The Place of the Human in today’s challenging business situation
The sudden, and life-changing, arrival of the health crisis pushed us all into a new reality. The term “unprecedented” has almost lost its meaning in this ever-changing landscape, with companies and consumers both constantly struggling to adapt to new situations. Overnight, many employees were asked to stop coming into the office or apply unusual social distancing measures.
At the same time, we’ve been forced to adapt and change the way that we interact with colleagues, business partners, friends and family members too.
Adapting at an incredible pace
In almost no time, companies with employees that could work from home opened the doors to remote working. Organizations have quickly done everything possible to ensure that people could remain connected, efficient, and available from a distance. Businesses have swiftly discovered new ways of serving customers and clients remotely to try and preserve the human link that is so important in our professional and personal lives.
Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t been business as usual. Since the lockdown, we’ve all been forced to adapt at an incredible pace, and many of us have never been more efficient. At first, the focus for many businesses was finding a way to quickly preserve operations. After that, companies began to recognize the need for putting the “human” back at the center of the story.
Almost instantly, social distancing and isolation has prompted altruistic behaviors from businesses and consumers alike. We’ve all jumped into this mindset of being in this together. To move forward, we’ll need to keep our focus on preserving human relationships.
Collaboration and communication tools in the cloud have revealed their true value during this difficult time, not just as a tool for preserving business operations, but as a way to aid human and business resilience.
How are companies responding to this new landscape?
With collaboration and communication tools to help them, companies have joined minds remotely to deliver objectives and accomplish goals as never seen before. We’re all working together to ensure that this landscape succeeds, because we all have a common enemy to overcome.
As an example, here are various examples of how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is operating in this new environment, thanks to Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow™, our cloud-based communications and collaboration solution:
• Jumping on video conferences to solve problems and give remote teams more authority for making decisions
• Replacing face-to-face interactions with video meetings keeping business relationships from stagnating
• Getting together in project groups with people from different departments all contributing to the same goal
• Using “discussion bubbles” with the management team for help in handling the challenges of isolation
• Implementing remote online support teams to help people less familiar with remote working to stay productive
All the while, top management and leaders are engaged and keeping their fingers on the pulse of the company. Employees from all functions and backgrounds are learning how to operate more smoothly in a remote landscape, using the tools that are available on the cloud.
Will attitudes about remote working continue to evolve?
The last couple of months are evidence of the durability and resiliency of the human spirit, and the ability of employees to remain efficient. A lot of enterprises have begun to realize that remote working can be just as efficient as asking people to come into the office.
The companies that have subscribed to Rainbow are telling us that they are discovering new roles that they didn’t realize could be done remotely. In the “return to business” period we are entering, these companies are finding ways to cut costs by keeping team members remote and lowering office overhead. They are in the middle of a significant mindset change towards remote working.
Going forward, the way companies will embrace remote working will depend on their situation, and the individuals involved. Not everyone has had the same positive experience with working remotely, and some people will struggle with this “new normal”. Time needs to be spent planning how enterprises can continue to offer remote working in the future, but we foresee an increase of people that will be working at home in the months to come.
Is the demand for cloud communications increasing?
The number of subscriptions to Rainbow has grown at an incredible rate over the past few months. And, the numbers are going to continue to increase as decision makers see first-hand how successful the right cloud technology can be. Business leaders are discovering that thanks to the right, highly secured cloud collaboration and communication services, they can work better and faster than they ever dreamed possible, all without having a physical office.
More than any other event in history, this crisis has revealed the importance of communication and collaboration between people in a company to maintain business continuity. Now that we’re evolving beyond our immediate response to this dramatic situation, it’s important that all organizations continue to use the lessons they’ve learned as a source of enduring competitive advantage.
Looking to the future
No-one knows exactly what the future will hold at this stage or how long it will take businesses to restore. However, one thing is for sure – in any situation or crisis, COMMUNICATIONS are key. And today, communications will remain critical in overcoming the adverse effects of the past months of confinement and to thrive in a different environment from the one we used to know.
Companies are likely to focus mostly on the tools and technology that will help them to move forward. This could include increasing investments in cloud solutions, adding AI to support teams, and automating specific paths. It all depends on what these companies believe will help them serve their customers best while saving costs.
The important lesson to take away from this experience is that the human-to human connection will always be a critical component of any business. More than anything else, ensuring that people can continue to communicate and collaborate in times of crisis helps ensure business continuity. If we can maintain communication, then we can learn how to adapt to almost any situation.