We are now three weeks into the “work from home” era, sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced most businesses to shift to a remote workforce model that follows social distancing guidelines. Although adapting to remote work may cause short-term business challenges, there are far-reaching impacts that have yet to be appreciated. When social distancing guidelines are lifted and workers begin to return to the office, what will that “office” look like? How do businesses prepare for an unknown future? We have been talking with a number of executives about these exact questions, and below are several items to provoke thinking about the future workplace.
1) The Use of Data Analytics Will Accelerate
As decisions about the very life of business are raised, data analytics is taking center stage. Data analytics has already been on a steady march into smaller firms, and this will accelerate as companies are pressed to make decisions that will affect their viability. They are finding that QuickBooks cannot produce all the information they need. Right now, the only way to conduct a “what if” analysis is by creating home developed models on an Excel spreadsheet.
Using data analytics will inform future intelligent and effective business decisions. It increases efficiency and helps reveal important business opportunities. Companies may feel comfortable dealing with short-term trends and decisions, but it’s the longer-term analyses that will prepare them for the future.
2) Crisis and Employee Management Techniques Will Evolve
Business crisis management techniques tend to assume one crisis at a time. The current pandemic can already be broken down into multiple crises, such as insufficient capital and unavailable supply chains. Many companies may be too distracted to realize that the opportunity to exploit these events is ripe. Cybersecurity is on the rise, and IT attacks such as data theft, phishing, and malware have risen dramatically.
Having a decentralized system creates an environment where confidential data needs even stronger security protection. Although a remote workforce means a more challenging model for security and following compliance guidelines, by developing appropriate employee management techniques, organizations will be better prepared for future unexpected events.
3) Productivity and Security Will Be Addressed
Many companies may have yet to understand that corporate security is now a function of their employees’ home security. It’s important that education, supervision, productivity, and data security work together in a well-designed strategy. Poorly designed security measures may not only threaten an organization’s assets, but also limit productivity. Therefore, it’s essential for organizations to define acceptable risk and weigh these risk factors against productivity requirements. In addition, organizations will need to assess threats and develop appropriate remedies while educating employees on the importance and purpose of security.
Many organizations rushed to solve the short-term need of rapidly moving to a remote workforce. While these actions were necessary, the urgency of the situation might prevent organizations from thinking ahead to future challenges. It’s important for organizational leaders not to let near-term challenges distract from longer-term thinking. Without the vision to anticipate upcoming challenges and opportunities, organizational leaders will forever remain in a reactive mode.
Companies are going to come back from this pandemic and say, “Okay, we didn’t have the right tools, infrastructure, and training, and now we are going to move to make sure that this problem doesn’t happen again.” We need to fundamentally change how we work and start thinking about the future of business.
Your Partner Now and Into the Future
To survive the post-COVID-19 economy, strategies, plans and actions need to exist now. At Aldrich, we have a robust continuity plan in place and our hundreds of employees will continue to provide a seamless client experience. We are well equipped to work remotely through the use of technology and a variety of communications tools to support you.
If you have questions about how your organization can prepare for the future, let’s talk.