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6 Tips for Preparing for Whatever Comes Next


Working from home
Image: Jacob Lund -
At this point, we’ve heard time and again that COVID has radically changed how enterprises communicate and collaborate, and things that were “nice to haves” before coronavirus are now crucial to supporting business continuity.
Cloud adoption and other industry milestones that were projected to take years to achieve are now happening in a shorter period of time. More precisely, maturity and adoption of cloud UC, collaboration, and contact center services have accelerated by 24-36 months due to COVID-19, Steve Leaden, president and founder of consulting firm Leaden & Associates, said during his keynote address kicking off week two of the Enterprise Connect Virtual Bootcamp. (For more on the bootcamp, which also includes live and on-demand webinars and loads of other assets to help you manage today’s new reality in collaboration, click here.)
And Leaden has seen this acceleration first-hand, helping enterprises across sectors such as health care and manufacturing make the work from home (WFH) switch, which typically included a move to cloud services and away from on-premises systems. During his presentation, Leaden shared his experience working with enterprises to enable WFH and provided some recommendations to prepare for whatever comes next.
Making the WFH Switch
Just as enterprises have a range of technology requirements, COVID-19-readiness varied greatly. One benefits group with over three million members was ready to support a remote workforce because it had embraced WFH years ago, Leaden explained. Prior to COVID-19, the staff worked remotely about 30% of the time, but now they are doing so up to 50% of the time. To meet the increased demand for remote working capabilities, the enterprise recently added Teams to their Microsoft 365 service and deployed Zoom for everybody, Leaden said.
While this benefits group was easily able to broaden its support for WFH, some enterprises weren’t as fortunate or as well prepared. Leaden shared another example of a healthcare provider that had a 30-year-old Centrex voice system prior to COVID-19. To meet the need for quick mass communications during COVID-19, Leaden worked to deploy a freemium Singlewire service for mass emergency communications. And to ensure that users could connect remotely, the enterprise went with LogMeIn Pro Remote Access, Leaden said.
And while some enterprises might have been hesitant to make the WFH move because of productivity concerns, many are finding that point moot now. One enterprise in the manufacturing sector actually saw a 10-15% boost in productivity because of WFH, Leaden said. It accomplished this by activating Microsoft Teams for video meetings, using Cisco UC for voice, and still relying on traditional services like voicemail, Leaden explained. While WFH is being pushed across the enterprise, the IT department is also seeing productivity benefits and looking to WFH to save on travelling expenses.
What’s Next?
In interviewing and working with 20 different clients, Leaden came up with recommendations for ensuring enterprises are ready for whatever comes next. Some of the top recommendations are:
  1. Use the COVID-19 experience as a benchmark for business continuity plans
  2. Understand contact center needs and consider how callback and artificial intelligence (AI) services can help ensure service-level agreements
  3. Create short instructional videos and cheat sheets to help users with WFH technology
  4. Prepare laptops ahead of time when you think there might be a surge in demand
  5. For many enterprises, one size doesn’t fit all. An enterprise might need more than one videoconferencing solution to be able to communicate and collaborate freely and openly
  6. Make sure you can scale your services when the need arises and that your providers can handle it
Ending his presentation, Leaden reminded us of the reality we are living in and how “COVID-19 part two” might just be right around the corner. Knowing rough times might be ahead, Leaden stressed now is the time to evaluate partners and plan for whatever comes next.