By: Dhruv Dhumatkar, Director of Solutions Engineering, Australia/New Zealand at NetApp
Business leaders and organisations around the world are adapting to the ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19. For some organisations, this was only a minor calibration, but for others, COVID-19 has severely disrupted business as usual. Whatever the case, business leaders find themselves in unprecedented circumstances without the clarity needed to form a long-term outlook.
Where are people’s heads at?
It’s safe to say that we live in an age of information overload, and this is further exacerbated in times of crisis. Government and health authorities are talking about the rapidly expanding tragedy, while economists lament reduced business activity in many industries.
As there’s no way to determine when things will truly return to normal, leaders are forced to address questions like, ‘how do I keep my workforce safe and avoid layoffs,’ ‘what is our business continuity plan during this time,’ ‘how do I keep my employees productive, motivated and connected to the wider team,’ and ‘what tools can I use to keep the wheels turning.’
There is no easy answer to these questions, as each business has its own set of circumstances, but there are some simple measures business leaders can take to gain stability during uncertain times.
- Be honest and transparent with your employees – now is the time to rally together. Leadership needs to shine during times of crisis. Employees are stressed for their families and job security. People may be grappling with circumstances at home that are completely foreign, such as home-schooling their children, helping elderly family members, or supporting friends and family with their mental health. Empathy is our greatest resource at this time.
Make sure employees know that we are all in this for the long haul, not just the 9-5. Embrace community initiatives and make sure your team is staying connected to their co-workers and the wider business. For example, many companies are holding more frequent all-hands meetings to maintain morale and increase collaboration. Most importantly, don’t assume everything is always fine and be sure to ask how people are going and what they are experiencing. Simply talking about things can be a great relief.
- Plan for your next thirty days, until the situation stabilises. Right now, it’s impossible for business leaders to plan long-term. Government and health authorities can’t make any promises on how the situation will evolve or when things may start returning to normal. What business leaders can do is plan for their next thirty days. Start with the business continuity plan, predicting disruptions to the sales cycle and analysing technology capacity trends, including cloud and on-premises infrastructure. Identify applications that are in heavy demand, or are likely to be, and storage systems that are overburdened. There are a range of hybrid cloud tools that can help you accurately protect, optimise and gain visibility into your infrastructure.
- Keep employees focused by supporting them with the tools they need to work. Over half of HR leaders surveyed in a report by Gartner indicated that ‘poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working is the biggest barrier to effective remote working.’ Technology underpins the new normal, one where reliability, performance, security and the availability of data are key to supporting remote workers. There are a number of technologies that can support remote working, no matter what the use case.
- For organisations that need to get up and running (and fast!), cloud-based EUC and VDI applications such as Windows Virtual Desktop and Citrix can be easily implemented and are ready to support thousands of users.
- For businesses looking to support a large number of users and/or more complex workloadssuch as 3D applications or band-width intensive tasks, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) provides added flexibly. HCI provides scalable compute and storage options that can be adjusted as, and when, they are needed.
Availability and access to data underpin all of this, especially as data is moved between on-premises storage and the cloud.
Will we reimagine work?
While it remains uncertain as to how long the crisis will continue, we can look to the future of work – how will this experience change our perception of what work can be? For one, we will value our face-to-face time with our co-workers, customers and partners even more. It’s amazing how virtual conferencing has become so integral to our day-to-day, but there is still something special about that in-person interaction.
From a technological standpoint, many business leaders will see the value in someone at home being able to fire up a corporate standard desktop, access information and share resources. This is something that many people knew existed, but perhaps didn’t realise how seamless remote working can be with the right technology.
Lastly, business leaders need to take stock of how quickly (or slowly), and how effectively, the business was able to adapt to the situation. These learnings should form the basis for the new normal and be built in business continuity plans.
It’s worth remembering that COVID-19 was not the first, and won’t be the last, widespread disruption to business. Natural disasters, unforeseen government regulations, technological disruptions – any number of these factors can ‘reset’ business as usual. Staying ahead of the curve and having a comprehensive business continuity plan in place before disruption hits is crucial for long-term success.