Your business might be in crisis mode but the crisis will end. What you do now can make a huge difference in how well your business fares when the recovery comes. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads fear and chaos around the world many businesses have been forced to slow down. Some have even closed their business completely.
Fears of another recession are rampant and business owners are on edge, but here’s a fact; the crisis will end, and your staff will come back to work.
One of the recommendations being made by IT experts might sound counter-intuitive; increase IT spending rather than decrease it. Remote working is the new normal and preparing for it is the immediate task at hand.
Preparing now by increasing your IT spending and reinforcing your IT infrastructure simply makes good business sense.
1. Boost Your WFH Capacity by Procuring Additional Cloud Storage
No matter how many of your staff were working from home (WFH) before the pandemic, many more will be doing so after. For that reason, it’s vital that you increase your cloud storage capacity now.
This increase will enable your new WFH workforce to share the myriad of documents, reports, and videos that your business relies on. Keeping clients happy is paramount to ensure that your profit margins stay firmly in the black.
Having the correct amount of cloud storage capacity allows you to leverage the internet, secure your infrastructure and reduce enterprise network barriers to both capture and grow new revenue.
With your WFH workforce on the verge of explosive growth, you’ll need the extra capacity to maintain efficiency and productivity and, if done right, you should even be able to increase it.
2. Empower Your Employees by Investing in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS Solutions
For non-experts, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are the three cloud computing models that are used the most. All three of which are supplied and maintained by a service provider. A major benefit of the three models is that they are infinitely scalable.
For example, you can start with IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and, over time, move towards PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) without having to go back and suffer a mahor redesign.
There are a myriad of benefits all 3 offer to businesses increasing their WFH workforce, and to remote workers themselves, including;
- Workers stay secure, internet-wise, from anywhere they work
- Log-in and passwords can be monitored with multi-factor authentication
- Restricting access removes users quickly and easily
- Specific sites or functions can be easily blocked
- Stolen devices pose no threat as they will contain zero sensitive data
- An internet connection is all that’s needed to get to work
- Work apps will be available on any device
- Major savings as workers can provide their own computing devices
- Security costs, the major share of IT spending, is lowered significantly
- IT maintenance costs are lowered significantly
- Data is backed-up instantly and automatically
- Control is centralised
3. Increase Collaboration by Embracing Team Sharing Applications
One of the major drawbacks of having a large WFH workforce is that it makes collaboration difficult. When your people can’t get together face-to-face the lack of the creative juices and back-and-forth tossing of ideas is an issue. This can also be a morale killer at best and lead to a dearth of new ideas and solutions at worst.
Team sharing apps are part of the solution should be embraced fully in this new era of remote working. There are quite a few available today, from simple file and document sharing app Dropbox to apps that handle video-conferencing like Zoom and GoToMeeting.
It’s essential that you start your due diligence now, during the downtime that COVID-19 has created, so that when the crisis ends you have the app and its system in place and your employees are already familiar with how to use it correctly. This will increase efficiency and productivity greatly. Some of the best team sharing applications are below.
Video Meeting Apps
- SlackSkype for Business
- Cisco WebEx
- Google Meet
- Google Hangouts
Document Sharing Apps
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Docs
Two things to keep in mind about team sharing apps are that you should choose one that fits your particular business best and, most definitely, choose one that uses cloud-based technology. (See #3) Compatibility with the files and tools your business is using now is also important.
4. Plan For All Staff Members To Work From Home Once A Week
As WFH warps from being a possibility to a necessity due to crises like the coronavirus pandemic, rotating your employees to allow them to work from home at least once a week is vital.
The fact is, at some point in the future it may become necessary for everyone to work from home and so getting your people used to doing that and introducing them to the routine becomes more important than ever.
The good news is that there are quite a few benefits to job rotation that can increase productivity.
- Reduces boredom (Over 70% of employees are not 100% engaged at work)
- Gives employees a needed break from monotonous or strenuous duties
- Helps your business identify where a particular employee works best
- Encourages self-development
- Best of all, it gives your business a much-needed backup plan for the next crisis
5. Invest In Equipment and Devices for Your Growing WFH Staff
Using IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions, as well as collaboration and document sharing apps, will empower your employees to work from home nearly as well (or maybe even better) than they work at your actual location.
That being said, providing the right equipment and devices to do their job, and do it well, is important. The last thing your business needs is an uptick in worker’s back and neck injuries caused by imperfect chairs and desks. The same thing goes for outdated laptops and related equipment.
Some employees, depending on their job activities, might also need additional equipment like copiers, extra computer screens or a better smartphone in order to perform their job to the best of their abilities, and so purchasing these items and tools now is a solid financial choice. The list of equipment and devices includes;
- Desks and stand up desks
- Comfortable, ergonomically designed desk chairs
- Computer screens
- PC and laptop computers
- Paper shredders
- Internet xDSL modems
- Tablet computers
- Filing cabinets
Keep in mind that all of this equipment doesn’t need to be purchased at the same time but also that, if you purchase in bulk, prices will inevitably be cheaper per piece than if you buy one at a time.
6. Research, Find and Hire External Consultants
Here’s a fact; there are already millions of people working remotely, including experts in just about every field from IT to writing and every industry in between.
Many of these remote workers are freelancers who can and will work for anyone who meets their criteria and pays their price and can be found on a variety of service portals that have sprung up over the last decade or so.
Reaching out to find, vet and hire these people now is a sound business decision as it will allow you to familiarize your self with their work, their prices and their availability.
Some of the better portals include;
- People Per Hour
Online freelance worker portals like these are a great solution when, for example, you need to ramp up production, allowing for excellent scalability up or down when needed without the hassle or cost of hiring a full-time worker.
7. Invest in 5G technology For Key Staffers
For the uninitiated, 5G is the next iteration of the internet, promising the fastest speeds ever seen for uploading and downloading from the cloud. 5G allows for the transfer of truly massive amounts of data in a ridiculously short time.
The reason is that 5G delivers vastly increased bandwidth with low latency and significantly increased response times. This will allow your key staffers to accomplish tasks that would have been impossible to do from home before, and thus should be at the top of your ‘to-do’ list as far as investing in IT is concerned.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across a wide swath of businesses as we speak but, as with all things, it will end and business life will go on.
While we all wait for that to happen one of the most important tasks that you can accomplish is to prepare for the future, which all signs say will be one that significantly incorporates a bigger work-from-home workforce. That includes investing heavily in IT so that your business is prepared to move forward without delay.
If you need advice or have questions about increasing your IT spend to prepare for the coming WFH future, please get in touch.
And to all who are reading this article be safe, wash your hands and practice social distancing until the worst is behind us. Together we’ll get through this crisis and move forward.