Yesterday marked 100 days since the UK went into lockdown in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus. It has been a busy but very productive few months here in the inTec Business Group…
We have taken a moment to reflect on the lockdown period via a chat with our Group Managing Director, Simon Peck. We started by asking Simon how his own team adapted to full time remote working overnight at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown:
How well equipped was inTec for allowing all of the workforce to work remotely?
“Fortunately, being in the technology space we had already adopted quite naturally the flexibility of remote working. By having our email and file services already in the cloud meant we could work from anywhere.
Also, already being users of Microsoft Teams for inter-company & cross project working meant we didn’t have learning curves to quickly climb.”
Did you face any issues or challenges at the start of the lockdown in regard to remote working for you and your team?
“For some teams within the group, typically the help desk areas, having them take their work PCs home with them where they didn’t have laptops was more of a logistical problem for these people at home when they were so used to 100% coming into the office to work. People very quickly adapted and new working/home patterns were quickly discovered.”
What were some of the key concerns from inTec’s clients at the start of lockdown?
“Like most companies the biggest concerns were loss of company data, their ability to service their customers and if their productivity would be maintained.”
How did you help pre-existing clients move to remote working, in some instances, overnight?
“In a number of cases we placed quite a substantial amount of large orders of laptops for our customers to enable their employees to work from home. Our IT support teams also worked around the clock in the first week to move on-premise workloads and services into a position where they could be accessed remotely for the majority of clients. It quickly became apparent that our customers who thought they were geared up to work remotely hadn’t really planned for it, so we had to very quickly work with them to put the correct technology and practices in place for them.”
Did you receive an increase in requests for home working technology solutions from other businesses?
“Of course. On top of providing laptops to their employees, a large number of our customers didn’t have the appropriate telephony solutions to allow the handling of calls outside of the office. Quickly spinning up a number of hosted voice solutions, and demonstrating the advantages of collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams meant our customers were operating as close to normal very quickly.”
How did inTec manage this demand?
“This is what we do. We handle the end-to-end process for our customers, from correct solution assessment, deployment, configuration and support. Our teams worked increased hours in the early days to ensure all our customers were working, but this settled down into normal business as usual as our customers became used to the new solutions.”
How are your clients coping now, 3 months on?
“Very well. After the initial shock and rapid running around to ensure their businesses could operate effectively, our customers are now looking at how this way of working can become part of their normal operating model. There is some remedial work to be done as some fixes had to spun up very quickly and maybe weren’t the most optimum, so we are working with them to make sure there are operating in the most resilient manner.”
How else have you helped other companies or organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic?
“We have done a number of things within the community, including giving free Microsoft Teams usage and best practice sessions to NHS departments and charities, as well as guidance and advice on remote working and collaboration to a number of care homes and health practices.”
How do you think the Covid-19 lockdown will impact on the way in which businesses work in the future?
“Quite dramatically actually. Going to work will now mean what you do, not where you are. I believe now companies have witnessed that remote working hasn’t meant a dramatic fall in productivity, and people are now comfortable with video meetings there will be less insistence of people being ‘in the office’. In fact, the term ‘in the office’ will mean something very different, more like available for work rather than in a location.The demand for office space will be less. We are already hearing of companies scaling back their plans as they now believe they can work effectively with less space. The old adage of the first meeting is best face-to-face I think has now changed as situation has meant that first meetings can be done via other means such as video. This has led to greater efficiencies as subsequent meetings which may be face-to-face are now qualified and less time is wasted travelling to ‘nice conversation’ initial meetings.”
What do you think are the top three key advantages of a flexible, remote working environment in any business?
“These would be my top three, though this isn’t an exhaustive list as there are other benefits to the business and employee: increased productivity and performance; more engaged workforce; and lower operating costs.”
Are there any points you would advise businesses to be aware of when establishing a long-term home working setup post-lockdown?
“From a technology perspective I’d make sure that proper secure access can be established to people working environments, including the connectivity, phone systems, email and business systems, on all devices able to access work content, not just the laptop. From a people perspective I’d ensure that everyone is aware of what’s expected of them, that it’s the output/outcome that’s more important than if it is done 9-5. Establish regular team/department/company meetings to keep everyone engaged and not feel disenfranchised. The technology is the easy bit, adapting to this new way of working takes effort from the top to make sure everyone is included.”