It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that the pandemic broke out, turning the world completely upside down. In a matter of days, travel stopped, teams dispersed, and most of the world went into lockdown to escape the pandemic.
Now year two of the pandemic has come and the fight against COVID-19 continues.
So much has changed in the enterprise communications space with the work from home trend that it’s worth taking a step back and analyzing its evolution.
Phase I: Utter Chaos
By the end of February 2020, it was clear that a global crisis was brewing. COVID-19 took about a month to set in, and by the end of March most businesses were on full alert and working from home. Offices were shut down, and workers were asked to log in from home or remote offices for health and safety.
The result was utter chaos, as most companies were unprepared to manage remote work at such a scale. Many lacked remote desktops, and had large amounts of team members accessing sensitive data and files from insecure home networks.
From an administrative perspective, there was little time to worry about such details. The main priority was transitioning to a remote environment to maintain operational stability, regardless of its impact.
Phase II: Staying Afloat
During the summer months, businesses focused on maintaining business continuity, and adding communications solutions to strengthen collaboration across remote environments. Concerns about the economy and spending caused budgets to freeze, delaying projects and resulting in widespread layoffs.
At this stage, many companies also realized they had glaring weaknesses in their remote communication and collaboration strategies. The enterprise communications space was highly fragmented, with users accessing a variety of freemium apps and cloud services to maintain productivity and communicate across distances.
Many critical problems began to surface during this stage. For example, shadow IT reached an all-time high as network and security teams lacked visibility into devices and home networks.
In addition, connectivity remained a major issue, as local service providers were unable to keep up with large amounts of at home users. It would take months for providers to catch up and make structural changes to support changing usage patterns, and even now there are hiccups.
Phase III: Reflection
By the fall, it was clear that the pandemic was not going away. For companies that were still standing, it was time to step back and reflect on the previous months and all the changes that had taken place and then to look ahead at what was still to come.
It was clear that the enterprise communications landscape was forever changed. For example, the standard 9 to 5 workday was ancient history. The shift to remote work created an always-on environment, with many employees choosing to work early mornings or into the evenings.
The way employees communicated had also changed. Voice calls were suddenly a thing of the past, with most interactions taking place over video. There was also a massive uptick in business texting, as employees switched to SMS and chat to stay in touch throughout the day.
Perhaps most importantly, a shift in mindset had taken place. Many business leaders began to see that remote work was not only possible, but advantageous. Teams slowly but surely learned how to work from home and maintain productivity and customer support. A lot of mistakes were made early on, and key communications lessons were learned, but ultimately enterprises emerged stronger, more connected, and more resilient than ever before.
Phase IV: Optimization
At this point, we’re in stage four of the work from home trend. The pandemic is still raging, but now many companies are anticipating opening offices again at some point in 2021 and returning workers to their desks at least on a part-time basis.
For many companies, questions are now arising about what the post-pandemic business environment will look like once the country is fully vaccinated. It’s still difficult to say when travel will resume and events will open.
In the meantime, businesses are sorting through key lessons from 2020 and looking for ways to optimize their remote work strategies. Once the pandemic is finally in the rear-view mirror, work from home will most likely turn into work from anywhere. As such, businesses are continuously seeking ways to enable secure, cost-effective, and reliable communication across all their locations. This stage is all about optimizing and enhancing communication and collaboration.
Take this time to think about how your organization is communicating, and consider whether your workers have the same communications and collaboration capabilities from their home networks as they do on-site.
Learn how Star2Star can help optimize your company’s remote strategy.