How to use IT as a platform for business growth by investing in the right technology

Working from home

The Coronavirus pandemic has got us all working in different ways.  And it has many of us thinking about and using technology very differently too.

Some of the most positive news stories to emerge during these difficult times have been the stories that showcase the ingenuity and sheer gumption of the worldwide community and their willingness to work collaboratively to drive the response and find solutions – whether by 3D printing components for much needed PPE or cross-national cohorts of scientists working together to understand the science or to work towards developing a vaccine.

Mit Patel, Managing Director, Netstar explains how we can earn from their example to break down barriers and work more collaboratively and with greater pace and agility in our own working lives?

The role of IT & technology

For those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home during this time of crisis, technology has been the number one enabler.

Perhaps the steepest learning curve has been the video conference: perfecting the etiquette for “I think you’re on mute” and the right facial expression for those terrible few seconds it takes to close the call are some of the most universal “first world problems” of the pandemic.

Now we’re finally mastering these challenges, will we find it difficult to say goodbye to them?

It’s interesting to note that those firms that had already invested in enabling staff to work from home have found the transition less difficult.

Of course, it makes sense that the sudden new WFH life would be easier for those firms that had already given staff their own laptops which complied with corporate standards, had the necessary security tools in place, were recognised by the corporate network and could connect via RDS.  For those firms that had set up RDS access for remote workers.  For those firms that had rules and technology and processes in place to support their people who wanted more flexible working practices.  And it is they who have hit the ground running.

Others have struggled to catch up: allowing staff to pick the video conferencing technology – when experts have warned repeatedly about the security issues for apps like Zoom.  Wondering how to give staff network access without compromising security.  Or not giving staff simple advice such as: voice-activated assistants shouldn’t be in the same room where you’re hosting a business call if we’re going to comply with our data security policy!

Doing things differently in the future

In a strange way, the pursuit of more progressive working practices, of striving to enable staff to work more flexibly and to achieve a better work-life balance has reaped unexpected benefits.

We know that working from home can make staff more productive, help to ease feelings of stress and burn out, and boost job satisfaction.  But we could never have imagined that giving staff the tools to do it could possibly be enabling the new WFH reality in the way it is.

Will it be hard to return the genie back to the lamp when life eventually returns to normal?

Will we even want to?

How many of us will realise that we quite like working from home actually?  How many bosses will realise that locking staff to a desk in an office for a set number of hours each day is no indicator of productivity?

There would be fewer commutes, less pollution from traffic, fewer domestic and international flights made – the change might not only be good for staff who want flexible working, and for productivity, but also for the environment.

How should we be rethinking IT?

Can we learn anything from the advantages that progressive employers have enjoyed over the last few months?

While everyone else struggled to get all their staff set up at home, and then downloading the essential Office tools andusing the Teams app, they breezed on – business not as normal, but at least without too much disruption.

What if the laggards applied this progressive, forward-thinking approach to other IT challenges?  And became more proactive about our approach to security?  More aggressive in their threat discovery and management policies?  More immediate with patching, even?

Or perhaps treating asset management more strategically so that businesses avoid the costs of unnecessary downtime?

What if you stopped thinking about IT as a reactive service there to fix things when they go wrong, and began thinking about it as a proactive service?  One that really holds the key to transforming business for the better and making it more future proof – whatever that future holds?

It would mean new, more collaborative and dynamic relationships between companies and their IT partners.  One that is focused on strategic goals and that isn’t afraid to be disruptive.

In this way, companies and their IT partners can begin collaborating intensively on new business challenges; something we could probably all benefit from at the moment.

Here at Netstar, we’ve always worked proactively, and we haven’t been afraid to challenge our clients when we identify an opportunity to do things better.  But even we realise that there are enough business challenges arising from the current pandemic that could benefit from creative technology solutions right now.

When we finally get through the other side of this pandemic – and we will get through it, eventually – will we take this opportunity to do things differently from now on?

It’s possible that the experience of working from home under lockdown could change the way we do business forever – and, hopefully, for good.