Coronavirus Diary: overcoming the remote working hurdle

We all saw the clouds coming, and then a proper thunder hit us all – country by country, industry by industry. Remote working in the coronavirus era is now the reality.

Our strategy had always been to have a workforce that could work remotely and mobile, with applications and tools available from the cloud, but the prospect of all staff working remotely was certainly a real live test of that capability. What are the possible scenarios? What could be an issue? What are the ‘gotchas’ that going to prevent any of our teams from working remotely? These have been the questions I’ve been constantly reviewing with my team.

Our decision to migrate all staff to remote working was made very quickly. The first challenge came on the first day – we noticed that performance via our VPN connection was suffering at a lower capacity than expected. This could have posed several threats. Thankfully, the IT team have been great, they rallied quickly, expanded the infrastructure and the issue was solved.

It’s been a bit of an obstacle race – one of the other issues we have faced, and it’s been outside of our control, is with the individual staff members broadband connections. There is only a little business can do, here we can only advise steps to operate and effectively use the capacity available.

I work between our offices and home anyway, so personally, it’s no change for me and my team are used to me being at the end of the video line. But I know it’s been much harder for some of the team members.

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The key of communication

Technology set-up is one thing, but communication has been more important than ever. My team have had to adapt to being remote from their own teams, usually, they interact with our business colleagues personally, in meetings, workshops and fix issues physically. In the last couple of weeks, it’s been about keeping them active, ‘on plan’ and feeling sup-ported, engaged and motivated.

My team is hugely important to me, but we have to think about business as well. There is a lot of uncertainty and we have to adapt. A number of our clients and projects have very specific infrastructures, networking and methods of working, we had to look at every single one to ensure we had the options covered to enable remote access. With clients around the world, from different sectors, this has been time consuming, whilst the clock was ticking, we had to act fast to make sure our customers remain happy.

At the same time, as a result of the situation, we’re getting new requests from various customers, some of them, we’ve never dealt with. We are actively looking at how we can work with all our customers to be a proactive partner through this unprecedented period. To adapt is one thing, but the key is to look forward, predict and come up with proactive solutions.

This really is an unprecedented situation. You need to work out the remote tech, thankfully, I work for a tech company, so this hasn’t been that challenging. Then make sure your staff are happy. Then think about ‘how to safe your business’ and ‘what’s coming next’.

After a few weeks, I can say that it’s been a huge learning curve. Every challenge can pre-sent an opportunity. One opportunity that has come about internally, is the reliance on tools to support working processes has risen and people are now exploring new features of our enterprise systems. Having bullet-proof remote working set-up and improving engagement and remote communications are definitely positives which we are taking from this experience. For now.

Written by Steve Scott-Douglas, CIO, Ciklum

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