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Culture and technology: getting UK business’ through lockdown


The past few months have certainly been challenging for businesses all over the UK - from start-ups to established industry leaders. Organisations have found themselves adapting to the demands of a remote workforce virtually overnight, deploying communications solutions to enable their teams to engage with both each other and their customers. While it's true that this technology has been available for a while now, it has never been deployed at this scale before. This has presented a range of challenges when it comes to infrastructure, but these are only part of the picture.

With any new technological deployment, there is always a period of adaptation, particularly when teams - or in certain cases, whole sectors - have well-established ways of working that they are hesitant to change. Sometimes this is a question of compliance, where sectors have highly specific requirements regarding the handling and protection of sensitive data. Generational differences are also common, where there's a disparity between the older generation, who're accustomed to the traditional office environment, and the up-and-coming workforce, who expect their employers to offer a certain amount of flexibility with regard to remote working.

In light of this, it's no surprise that the overall uptake of remote working over the years has been relatively slow. However, the current pandemic has largely pushed such concerns into the background, as organisations have adopted these practices out of sheer necessity, in order to remain as close to business-as-usual as possible. We've seen this first-hand at Exponential-e, both with our own teams and those of our customers.

Consider the following statistics from our recent employee survey:

  • 94% of those surveyed cited the lack of a commute as a major benefit of remote working
  • 71% described an overall improved work/life balance
  • 53% found themselves becoming more productive, due to a lack of office-related distractions

Allowing teams to experience the potential benefits of remote working for themselves has led to a massive cultural shift in the way we think about our workspaces and infrastructure. Indeed, we are already hearing from leaders and stakeholders within our customers' organisations who are reconsidering the amount of physical office space they will require in the post-COVID-19 landscape, having witnessed the upsurge in productivity and identified the potential cost savings.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the technological backbone in place to support organisations' explorations of remote working. Beyond the UC solutions used to connect teams and customers, this has involved taking full advantage of the agility and scalability of Cloud solutions, along with security solutions that ensure critical data remains secure and is handled in a compliant manner, regardless of where teams and customers are located.

In this way, we're seeing technology supporting cultural shifts, which - in turn - are driving new technological innovations. There's no doubt that the workforce has evolved in recent months, but there is still much to be done if we are to establish a new standard of best practice around remote working and ensure teams can access the right tools, infrastructure and support as their requirements evolve.

This will require close collaboration between organisations and their IT partners, but the potential for enhancing productivity, morale and cost savings at all levels is enormous. We look forward to seeing what new developments the coming months hold, as we emerge from lockdown and settle into the 'new normal'.

Join our webinar on Tuesday 16th June at 14:30 to learn more about the challenges faced across all sectors when shifting to a remote workforce, and how we can be prepared moving forward to the future with a distributed workforce model and the 'new normal'. Register here to join our Managing Director, Mukesh Bavisi, discuss with our panellists Chris Christou, Director of Engineering, Mark Belgrove, Head of Cyber Consultancy, Afshin Attari, Director of Public Sector and Unified Communications and Jonathan Bridges, Chief Innovation Officer, discuss this in more detail.

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