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COVID-19: Kicking Digital Transformation into Overdrive

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While many businesses considered going digital, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a massive accelerant. Businesses have moved operations remotely, with 43% of U.S. workers working off-site some or all of the time. However, many are experiencing major disruptions due to the unexpected and forced adoption of remote work, as they must quickly scale to meet the demands of customers and a decentralized workforce. Here is how COVID-19 is kicking digital transformation into overdrive.

Many businesses are now realizing that investments into digital transformation are no longer simply an option; it’s vital to survival.

While digital adoption or moving to remote working conditions typically takes months or even years to implement — businesses of all sizes have been thrust into digital transformation whether they planned for it or not.

Businesses should devise contingency plans and strive to continually innovate to improve customer experiences and ensure steady growth. As remote work and reformed social practices are forced upon us, digital transformation is the solution to changed employee and customer expectations across all industries.

The New Digital Normal

In the new normal, digital will rule as the world operates with significantly less physical interaction. To sustain remote work, companies need to modernize outdated, overwhelmed tech stacks. Busines and equip themselves with a digital toolbox that facilitates communication, scheduling, project management, file sharing, and storage to drive success.

Cloud infrastructure and apps.

Remote work is largely enabled by cloud infrastructure and apps such as Teams, Slack, or Chanty for messaging. You’ll need a platform for your calls and digital meetings like Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype for video calls. What will you do for contracts? Get that set it up — Formstack Sign, HelloSign, or DocuSign for closing contracts digitally.

For companies that have not already established a system for digital work, this can be an enormous overhaul for operations and can significantly impede, and even halt workflow. It’s essential that you make your solutions easy-to-use and easy to understand and adopt. Help your team with any required technical skills — and use platforms and apps so even non-tech savvy users can learn and adapt quickly.

Use simple, practical solutions so your organization can quickly scale to meet the demands of a remote workforce and changing customer behaviors.

Some vital digital transformation steps include moving all paper processes to digital, automating workflows, and digitizing every customer and supplier interaction.

For example, business leaders looking to transition back into physical offices are monitoring cases of coronavirus across their organizations with a digital COVID-19 self-declaration form. Healthcare workers are using online forms and routing to streamline the drastic spike in COVID-19-related requests, prioritize those most at risk, and routing them to the appropriate people to triage.

Higher education administrations are using digital surveys to collect student concerns on the transition to remote learning and apply that feedback to upcoming school year planning.

Businesses are also re-evaluating what is essential travel and what can be accomplished through virtual meetings. In lieu of annual in-person conventions previously used as touchpoints and opportunities for networking and new business, companies will have to connect virtually.

The Shift in Customer Expectations

Unfortunately, organizations that refuse to digitize or believe they can “switch back to normal� after the crisis is over will be left in the dust. Companies that made the investments in automation and moving work to the cloud are meeting the touchless, digital customer’s needs and will ultimately earn the trust and loyalty beyond the pandemic.

Conversely, businesses that require in-person transactions will lose out to competitors that are making it easier for customers to transact digitally from anywhere.

Reduced in-person customer interactions are significantly impacting brick-and-mortar businesses. CNBC shared that U.S. retailers expect an enduring shift to ecommerce, meaning brick-and-mortar stores should prepare for potentially continued lower foot traffic.

But retailers aren’t alone. Businesses across all sectors – from healthcare to retail – must invest in digital, contactless experiences or services to continue to engage with customers. Smart restaurants are pivoting to offer take-out and delivery.

Healthcare organizations are turning to telehealth and virtual consultations. They’re doing what is necessary to respond rapidly to changing business circumstances and increased operations, and simultaneously changing customer expectations.

Now that customers are experiencing what is possible through digital offerings, they will expect these convenient services to continue long into the future. Organizations that fail to shift to digital or cease supporting digital processes post-pandemic will ultimately lose value to their customers.

The Future of the Workplace is Hybrid

Even after the world emerges from the pandemic, digitization and remote work are here to stay. Employees and customers will have experienced new digital processes and services and want to continue enjoying the benefits. Though physical interactions will always be valuable, all stakeholders are learning the value of digital transformation through this crisis.

Moving forward, it will be key for organizations to provide a hybrid offering that prioritizes efficiency, convenience and safety across in-person and digital services.

Digitization is necessary for businesses to quickly adapt to remote work, it will also play an important role in helping return employees to the office.

Forrester Research reported that businesses will be turning to technology to make the employee transition back to the office as seamless and safe as possible. With the delayed return to in-person education and child-care services, parents will be required to continue working from home, even as others may begin to return to workplaces.

Working outside of a secured office setting underscores the need to adopt secure and efficient digital solutions to support a partial, if not continued, remote workforce.

To optimize safety, businesses will likely reconsider office layouts to increase space between workers and install devices that scan temperatures. They’ll also need to monitor cases of coronavirus across their organization with a digital self-reporting system — and control the number of people in an office at once through staggered work schedules.

Another factor to be considered is how workers commute.

Those employees that rely on public transit may need additional flexibility to work from home to decrease exposure to high traffic areas.

Through all of these transitions — companies have learned that workers can work productively from home to sustain businesses. Businesses can use digital transformations and they are offering the most holistic solutions to address the multitude of issues the world is facing in this evolving environment.

An investment in digital will be the strongest way organizations can arm themselves to not only persevere the pandemic but also continue thriving into the future.

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5 Post-Pandemic Changes to Expect in the Workplace

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Disrupting businesses in every sector of the economy and infecting nearly 7 million people at the time of this writing — with 400,000 deaths globally. The coronavirus pandemic that sprung up December 2019 has had negative effects on businesses across the world, and the economy as a whole.

The stay-at-home orders that have been mandatory in several countries have caused our work lives to be affected in so many ways, from working in open offices and interacting with coworkers daily to working from home and having to rely on video conferencing apps for effective communication.

These many changes in our current work-life have left many of us wondering whether it’ll have any lasting effects on our work-lives once the pandemic is over and the current lockdown measures are eased. How will how our new work lives proceed from here?

The many effects the pandemic will have on our current work-life include:

  • Higher Prioritization of workers’ health.

The current attention that employee well-being has been garnered recently by organizations and employees themselves will surely increase. We will surely see employee health, wellness, and well-being being of greater importance in a post-pandemic situation.

We can predict more sick day allowances and health initiatives like the full health checks and examination of employees before they enter their workplaces.

After the pandemic and for a short period of time, signs may be posted to remind everyone to wash hands and perhaps limit how they give handshakes and hugs, and to maintain personal space.

To avoid overcrowding, keycards and sensors will monitor your whereabouts throughout the day and alert you whenever you’re in close proximity to another individual.

In the long run, contact-tracing apps for co-workers may also become part of the work-life experience to avoid the spread of future diseases and infrared body temperature scanners before access to the office building. These contact-tracing apps might even show areas with high coworker traffic similar to apps like Waze.com.

  • Remote work

The role in-office collaboration has to play in a company is overwhelming as it is important for building personal bonds and relationships between coworkers and boosting employee productivity, it is also essential for the creation of company culture, but what is more important is the safety of an organization’s employees.

The importance of remote working at a time like this has shown as many organizations have looked too remote working as a means of sustaining their businesses and to keep them up and running.

In a post-pandemic situation, it’s likely that we see the retention of remote working as a means of working for non-essential workers by organizations. However, office and in-house collaboration are surely not going away and higher-ranking workers may still work in-house.

  • Restructuring of office spaces.

The fundamental design of office workspaces and offices will surely be altered. More personal space, elevator capacity limits, and demarcating spots to stand in elevators to limit physical contact.

More space between desks with coworkers sitting on every other seat, partitioning may be installed to reduce the risk of spreading diseases, fewer chairs in conference rooms, private cubicles or offices, there’s an endless list of how the overall design of the office space might evolve in a post-pandemic situation.

  • Business travel and conferencing.

The coronavirus pandemic will definitely have a lasting effect on meetings as a whole, we should expect fewer conferences and curtailed travel plans in the post-pandemic era. Essential meetings will still hold, but ones with lesser importance will be moved to emails, phone calls, and video conferences.

We should expect employees will only have physical meetings when a project is crucial and cannot be done via video conferencing. Conferences, meetings, and conventions will be halted for the foreseeable future with meetings that aren’t necessary would now be done with video conferencing.

  • Work shifts and office hours.

Organizations will have gradual returns and might not require most people to come back until there’s widespread testing, treatment, or a vaccine. Work shifts might be put in place to ensure there’s a limited amount of employees in the workplace at any given time.

Limiting the number or set of people required to come to the office has been important for employee safety as it reduces the chances of them getting the disease. Only requiring essential workers to come to the office might be the norm in a post-pandemic situation.

In Conclusion

How business around the world is going to be changed due to the current global pandemic is unknown as we cannot predict the future with a 100 percent accuracy but by making educated guesses we might know how the impacts of the pandemic might shape our work life.

Workplaces may have significant changes in the long run, these may include new seating arrangements and the addition of building materials that discourage the spread of germs.

In order to reduce the risk of spreading future diseases, it’s a great time for new technology and innovation. We will need to be provided with access to rooms and elevators without employees having to physically touch a handle or press a button. Innovations in automatic door sensors, automatic sinks, soap dispensers, and maybe even voice-activated elevators.

Measures will surely be put in place to reduce the spread of any future diseases and pandemics to guarantee the general public and employee safety.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

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