ITSM is sure to play a significant role in businesses adapting to the ‘new normal’. What can ITSM teams do to survive and thrive post-pandemic?
As we begin to emerge from the surreal depths of lockdown, and businesses whir back to life, talk of a ‘new normal’ is inescapable. The way in which we live our lives will, for the time being at least, be largely defined by the scientific fundamentals of epidemic control. The way we work, relax and socialise will have to be shaped around the limitations of social distancing, of reduced social contact and of an overall increased awareness of public health.
In this transition to a ‘new normal’, the role of IT is bound to be significant. As the threat of COVID 19 became ever more real, employees were urged to work from home, forcing many organisations to adopt a way of working previously seen, by some, to be the reserve of trendsetting tech startups. Working from home is one aspect of a multitude of disruptions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, of which IT will play a key role in mitigating disruption and helping businesses take advantage of the opportunities the ‘new normal’ might bring.
So, what can IT Teams do to successfully adapt to a ‘new normal’, and to help businesses navigate disruption not only to survive, but to thrive? Here are some of our thoughts:
Provide a comprehensive & accessible knowledge base
Organisations should begin building a comprehensive knowledge base both for colleagues and external entities. The importance of knowledge during uncertain times and an ever-changing future cannot be understated. Through the furloughing of key team members or through parental leave, thousands of organisations will have seen knowledge walk right out of the door; with no ability to call upon these specialists to aid the resolution and fulfilment of IT activities. I’m confident that every organisation reading this will know of individuals in their organisation that are imperative to their success and delivery of services, or are aware of their own lack of knowledge/documentation around their practices. By implementing a consumable knowledge management solution, a significant amount of the ‘unknown’ that has impacted businesses throughout the UK could be alleviated. This comprehensive approach to knowledge will ensure that people are well informed and confident when fulfilling their role, in everything from how to use particular software or equipment in the event of staff having to work remotely, or how to temporarily fulfil an absent colleagues role.
Decentralise and mobilise the workforce
Through our engagements, we’ve heard from clients regarding investments in laptops to mobilise their workforce; in the majority of instances, doubling up on IT assets to enable a newly formed Business Continuity plan. Decentralisation and Mobilisation of organisations through adjustments to infrastructure, and investments in collaborative/cloud solutions such as Microsoft Teams or Slack would ensure that employees are able to work from anywhere, free from reliance on any static tools or fixed locations. Employees are too often hemmed in by the inflexibility of the tools they use, creating a working environment liable to disruption, and preventing a truly workable business continuity plan. Investments in cloud-based technologies that offer real-time collaboration would provide greater agility and consumption of services without the need for VPN connectivity which can sometimes come at a hefty price. With all modern technologies providing a plethora of integration options (which only becomes easier with secure cloud solutions); the opportunity to enhance existing processes and project productivity gains is a real opportunity for IT to elevate and improve their services and offerings.
We touched on the investment implications of this in one of my previous blogs on WFH. For many organisations, moving to a much more decentralised approach will require significant resources in the move to cloud based work, and a much heavier reliance on collaboration software; and while this will no doubt be a daunting prospect for some, it could well be that this increased investment is offset by a fall in fixed costs associated with the upkeep of an office and other assets.
Focus on health and wellbeing
Lastly, organisations need to focus on the health and wellbeing of their workforce. This might sound obvious but sometimes it’s not until you read something that you step back and think, in this case about how you’re reviewing and assessing the wellbeing of your workforce. The value of people to organisations can never be underestimated; whether a technology-based company that relies on their developers or a retail company that relies on its design, distribution and retail staff; without a productive and motivated workforce, every organisation will fail. When we return to normality or the ‘new norm’, the health and wellbeing of our workforces are of paramount importance. With organisations now starting to evaluate their work from home policies; encouraging regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy working environment and having regular communication between team members will ensure IT teams and organisations as a whole remain efficient and rewarding places to work. We all have a social responsibility to help others, and this isn’t exclusive to team leads or managers.
Lead the way on environmental matters
Some of the statistics regarding the environment during the pandemic have been nothing short of staggering. During strict lockdown in the UK, Nitrous Oxide pollutant levels across the country were 60% lower than the same time last year. According to the AA, the number of cars on the road fell to levels not seen since the 1970s, and reduced electricity consumption meant the UK went over 2 months without coal fired power stations needing to produce any of our electricity, with renewable sources making the majority. But as we emerge from lockdown, there is a real risk we simply return to our existing ways.
IT can help play a role in using this unprecedented time as an opportunity to create long lasting positive positive change in the way businesses consider the environment. Moving away from printed material and onto digital will help to reduce emissions and deforestation for paper production; and allowing for at least some home working will help to reduce the number of workers facing long daily commutes by car. And a comprehensive knowledge base could also be a great way of guiding employees on how to create a reduced carbon footprint, long after lockdown has ended.
Focus on the opportunities for improvement and innovation
Every problem is an opportunity to shine and prove your value; we need to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, even when we’re faced with extreme situations such as the one we find ourselves in now. Organisations should look at this pandemic as an opportunity to assess and improve, building a more efficient workforce, a better working environment and a more reliant service offering, unchained from internal proxies and in-house servers.
Want to learn more about the impact of COVID 19 on IT, and business as a whole? Stay tuned for our extended resource on preparing for the new normal.
Written by Jaime Ponting & Kevin Baker