Dissolving the fear of working-from-home as we enter a new normal
As we all settle into becoming a five-generation remote workforce, the realisation has sunk in that it takes more than just a laptop and mobile phone to use Office 365 tools, workflow management systems and applications in order to stay connected and continue to be productive and empowered.
Throughout human history, when a group, society, region or global community experiences an unplanned, catastrophic event, the impact ripples in many directions, spreading fear along with it.
This can result in a vicious cycle of disruption, especially as the period of uncertainty continues beyond all reasonable expectations. This is the time that we all need to take a deep breath, disconnect from excessive sources of negativity, and remember that the human race is resilient.
Life goes on, and survivors recover from trauma no matter how long it takes. Wars end, governments improve, sickness is cured, industries adapt, and we survive. In the meantime, no matter who we are, we need to make the same tactical and strategic decisions we always entrusted ourselves with, the way we already have, not fuelled by fear.
From a business perspective, that is what we do here at Fusion5. We inhale and exhale with the market, economy, and technology trends, and make sure we keep our customers informed throughout the good times and the bad.
Four perspectives on the new era
1. Remote workers and employees
As the economy slows down and the pandemic continues, everyone is anxious about job longevity and stability. Mainstream media seldom paints a positive light on unemployment figures during times of crisis, so it’s understandable that everyone feels this way. And, inevitably, a portion of employees will pay the ultimate price of losing their jobs. When they do return to employment though, they will notice a change. Perhaps not immediately, but their new employers will have had lessons learnt from the crisis, as will the industries they worked in. And their managers will also have evolved in how they do things.
We have an unprecedented five generations currently in the workforce: Traditionalists (1900-1942), Baby Boomers (1943-1964), Gen X (1965-1981), Gen Y (1982-1997) and Gen Z (after 1997).
Naturally, the degrees of patience, empathy, understanding, and technological literacy will vary across these generations. As will their productivity when faced with technology challenges. While some are used to waiting for many hours (days perhaps) to get what they need, others need things done immediately and simply can’t or won’t accept the need to wait. When working from home, it’s even more difficult to get prompt help as we can’t just walk over to the person we need to chat with. Like most of us, ICT and security resources are also working from home.
Given the feedback from many organisations that — even prior to the pandemic — their ICT department was typified by slow response times, poor scores in satisfaction surveys, and a tendency to fight fires (reactive not proactive), it’s no surprise that the situation has now worsened. This has prompted an urgent re-think about how to support remote workers and get them help quickly.
One emerging theme during COVID-19 is the desire to do ‘more with less’. More-with-less will be the new goal for every team, department, line of business and organisation, and in turn will create a new wave of improvements, methodologies of managing business risk, and ways to empower employees to achieve the desired business outcomes.
2. IT and security remote workers
After decades of ICT functions being subject to continuous scrutiny and criticism for slow response times and being un-strategic cost centres, our IT and security professionals are seeing and feeling a change.
IT is an industry where bots and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking over. As we approach 2025, it’s projected that there will be 42 billion devices on the internet and generating ZETA bytes of data on any given day. Humans can’t process, manage, secure, or support this level of dynamic change of never seen before volumes.
These workers need to start aligning themselves with organisations that want to transform these functions into profit centres as opposed to BAU cost-centres. Such organisations understand that technology, innovation, and business continuity belong in IT, and can quickly change the DNA of an enterprise for the better to sustain growth, reduce risk and conquer new markets.
We are all familiar now with Infrastructure, Platform and Software as a service. The data centre is a big investment for all organisations and being able to secure, manage and optimise those virtual assets is a huge task. Edge computing is no different. Edge computing is all the computing that does NOT occur in the datacentre; it occurs closer to the users and devices. Anything from IoT sensors, to phones, laptops and smart devices issued by an organisation to their employees to do their jobs.
The new breed of technology required to cope with the anticipated explosion in Edge computing must have four key elements in one platform, one application, and one tool from an IT or security remote worker’s perspective:
Tell me! Translation: In real-time give me a single source of truth of all users and devices.
Show me! Translation: In real-time show me trends and answers to my questions in plain English.
Enlighten / Empower me! Translation: Give me all the tools I need to fix the problem, act, and do my job better, as well as provide me with recommendations.
Do it for me! Translation: Give me an army of bots that I can set up to assist me in my day-to-day activities and help me manage my huge work demands so I can focus on the important business needs.
All IT, service desk, and security teams should check out the new Ivanti Neurons platform with its four core capabilities. This platform will help you transition into this new era of Edge computing without leaving the single Enterprise IT services platform, where all your Enterprise IT resources share a common view of all users and assets in one place.
In a similar light, as managers continue to chase targets and results, there will be even less tolerance of unnecessary productivity loss due to staff encountering daily security or ICT issues.
Today’s managers need to find the right balance between human resources and bots in whatever they do. As we transition into the new era of working-from-home, technology fads are all around us and we need to refrain from making siloed tactical — and often cost-driven — decisions. The focus should be on working with business partners that have a broader and more strategic view of the landscape and associated ecosystems.
Fusion5 in Australia and New Zealand is such a partner. We work with small to medium businesses, Local Government, and the not-for profit and education sectors. We’re here to help, visit our Business Continuity hub.
As a manager myself, I believe that management is all about managing people and the challenges they face every day, beyond just direct reports. Customers, peers and decision-makers, or anyone we can connect with to do business, are facing their own professional and personal challenges. And this must be addressed first. All the artificial intelligence in the world can’t replace the ability to say the right things at the right time and prioritise matters in a ‘human’ way. AI sentiment monitoring is a great tool with many applications, but human sentiment can change in an instant. Understanding how people feel, and having situational/emotional awareness, and comprehending what people MEAN — as opposed to what they actually SAY — is one of the unique gifts the human race enjoys and will continue to enjoy for many more decades.
C-level personnel are typically extremely busy and driven individuals. They’re typically hard to get hold of as they are held accountable to profit and loss and are always on the go meeting targets or managing operational risk. It’s always a challenge to stay informed in any role, but it’s an even bigger one for the C-suite. So, it’s imperative that strong alliances and partnerships are established at a foundational level to reduce the weight and risk during decision-making processes around enterprise applications, innovation, cyber security and IT operations. Like never before, we see organisations assessing their business continuity strategies, their office spaces, and their ability to support their employees working from home for prolonged periods of time and doing so efficiently and securely.
The IT environment has become very complex. And having too many tools is not the answer, not strategically or financially. Enterprise Level Agreements (or ELAs) are financially attractive and should be considered where possible, however best-of-breed should also always be a viable option. Integration has become easier, cheaper and more secure. Some organisations like Fusion5 even offer subscription-based Integration-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings to eliminate the excessive risk and cost away from our customers when dealing with middleware and integration projects.
Our executives and senior leadership team are continuously bringing to market solutions and services that solve current C-suite business problems while providing strategic decision-making capabilities across all mission-critical pillars of an organisation. They are always available to have meaningful discussions and share with you how we have tackled similar problems or achieved similar business outcomes.
As I write this blog, one of the top initiatives we are helping our customers with is managing Azure consumption and Microsoft licenses. It’s a modern-day business applications issue, and we have solved it for many of our customers. Find out more about Fusion Marketplace.
In closing — and until next time — dissolving the fear of working from home as we enter a new era is possible. And our Enterprise Service Management team here at Fusion5 are here to help you get there in 2020, and beyond.
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