For over 14 months now, the world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Late in 2020, things had started normalizing in India and most offices had reopened. However, with the second wave hitting the country, the disruptions and lockdowns have again become the order of the day. In such a constantly shifting scenario, it has become essential for business organizations to adapt operational processes which mitigate the impact of any change in the ground situation.
Modern workplace needs and purpose
The key to successfully running business operations lies in enhancing productivity and efficiency with greater integration of technology. Given the current scenario, the majority of the workforce in most businesses is likely to work remotely in the near future and therefore, the focus will be on the various needs of a modern workplace.
- Enhancing employee experience: The human resources of any organization are the most vulnerable. Companies need to ensure a safe and superior employee experience while working remotely to ensure productivity and output quality.
- Expediting digital transformation: In the initial stages of the pandemic last year, most companies looked at the disruptions as a short-duration challenge and adopted stop-gap measures. However, now it is apparent that the ‘wait and watch' strategy needs to be replaced by policy changes and undertaking a long-term digital transformation. Today, we are facing the second wave of the pandemic, and experts are already forecasting the third wave. There might be further disruptions in the years to come and the smart thing is to take steps now for such scenarios. Securing remote logins, enhancing digital capacities and bandwidth, and adopting robust cybersecurity measures are a must for all enterprises now.
- Innovation, not cost-cutting: Disruptions have caused a decline in annual revenues for most companies in the last year. This makes it all the more important to invest in innovation instead of cost-cutting for greater revenue generation and operational efficiency in the times ahead.
- Collaboration through tools and technology: Remote working must be enabled through the right technology and collaborative working tools in place. For on-premise employees, there should always be technical support in place to dynamically switch to remote working wherever required.
Modern digital communications in the new paradigm of work
One of the most important and drastic changes in the ‘new normal' has been the advancement of digital communication. In-person meetings have been replaced by online video and teleconferencing solutions (Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, etc), and collaborative working tools.
Having on-premises IT infrastructure can actually bring down the efficacy of a remote workforce and the legacy systems make it difficult to scale dynamically. Irrespective of the location, employees need to connect their devices to data networks, digital tools, and apps safely and conveniently. In this regard, managed services offer effective and quick access to mobile data, cloud-native identity management, device management, assured connectivity, and security services in the simplest, most effective, and efficient manner.
Since the internet is essentially the only network needed to run the business, it is important to reconsider network requirements. Fast, resilient, and uninterrupted connectivity that is location agnostic has become an essential requirement today.
Best practices to secure smart working in a distributed workforce
Advanced options such as two-factor authentication are crucial in ensuring endpoint security today. The multi-factor authentication is carried out using OTP technology, certificate-based USB tokens, smart cards, and various other advanced security technologies. It pays to implement a stringent and comprehensive BYOD policy and exercise extra caution before allowing employees to use personal devices. The absence of security policies can reduce control over access to information on such devices which becomes riskier once employees leave the organization.
Data storage and consumption need to be regulated through applications. Employees should be allowed to store content only on the official cloud or web-based storage software which has options of file sharing and editing online such as Cisco Cloudlock.
Another critical area of focus is to ensure network security by using a proxy connection to the device. Email and storage using on-device security apps such as Proofpoint and Datamotion should be implemented. There are various set-and-forget email encryption tools available in the market that offer end-to-end protection and manage everything from scanning to encryption. The security systems also deny access to devices that try to connect using public WiFi.
As all businesses have learned since the pandemic outbreak, it pays to have a contingency plan for risk management. There could be a situation where a device such as a laptop or a smartphone with crucial information is lost or stolen. Risk management tools can then help in tracking the device or remotely delete sensitive information from it.
Building High-Performance Agile Teams
The key to setting up high-performance and agile teams is the creation of a strong foundation of engineering practices. The best option is to create smaller teams as it makes communication and collaboration more streamlined and enhances performance as well as output. There has to be continuous mentoring and clear communication about the goals and purpose of the team. Another key aspect of agile, high-performance teams is that they comprise cross-functional experts. Each team has to be led by a full-time Scrum master or product/project owner. The biggest boost to such teams comes from the autonomy and authority of decision-making entrusted to them.
These are the key attributes and realities of the new normal that can bring about transformation and success to organizations that display the agility of digital adoption. It is no longer a choice, but, an essential requirement!