What Do Businesses Need to Do to Support Homeworkers?

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • In COVID-19 times and the aftermath, enterprises need to think about both collaboration and connectivity.
  • Businesses should consider talking to their telecoms and/or IT providers about developing a new digital transformation strategy.

The COVID-19 crisis looks set to carry on into at least the early part of 2021, and with new restrictions coming into place in many countries to prevent a ‘second wave,’ many employees and employers could easily be facing another six months of staff working from home. Furthermore, many large global enterprises have already indicated that homeworking will be the norm for the long term. So, how should enterprises respond?

Rolling out collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex has provided more than a stopgap solution, and it seems that enterprises are waking up to the value that these cloud collaboration solutions can offer to their businesses. But many of these platforms have been deployed in haste, and while the platforms themselves have demonstrated admirable resiliency, user experience has been mixed.

Enterprises now need to consider how they can improve their IT estates to deliver an improved experience. The first area that businesses should consider is whether they have provided the right feature sets to the right employees. This works in two directions: making sure that employees have the tools they need, but also ensuring that premium features are not being paid for to support employees who do need them.

Enterprises should now be auditing their employees to ensure that they feel fully enabled to do their jobs. The initial ‘make do and mend’ attitude has largely faded and minor frustrations that were tolerated may now be eroding employee morale. On the other hand, most collaboration tools can generate usage statistics for individual employees or groups of employees. These statistics will allow businesses to see which features are not being used. This may mean that the employees do not need certain features and could lead to cost savings. It could also mean that employees are not making full use of the platforms and further training would be beneficial.

Examples of features that may or may not be needed include advanced conferencing services and more sophisticated call routing features. Many employees will not need these functions, but those who do may not know they are available or may need help configuring them.

Another key piece of the puzzle is connectivity. Employers cannot, in most instances, provide high-grade internet access to all employees. However, they can consider how their corporate network is either helping or hindering the performance of key collaboration and SaaS platforms. Working with network providers to ensure that SD-WAN and application performance enhancement capabilities are being delivered as close to the edge of the network as possible is likely to deliver benefits. For key employees, there is also the option of deploying ‘nano SD-WAN’ CPE solutions such as Palo Alto Networks CloudGenix’s recently launched small form factor ION 1000 SD-WAN CPE (list price $490).

Most service providers can offer consultation on digital transformation that will help businesses to develop new strategies for the changing world. They also offer IT audits and a range of user training programs that will ensure employees are making the most of IT tools they have available to them.

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