COVID-19: The unexpected catalyst for embracing technology in the workplace

by | Jun 19, 2020 | Blog

Coronavirus has forced many of us around the world to rethink our daily lives from work to school and entertainment. In response to travel bans, school and office closures, and recommendations to not gather in large groups to maintain our distance from others, we have had to turn to digital means as a way of keeping some sense of normality.

It has therefore been imperative to digitally transform our places of work and education to be able to operate effectively. The companies that are able to use technology well to keep going and rethink their business model for the future by fast-tracking digital transformation will be the ones that stay ahead.

Before lockdown, 5%* of the population defined themselves as employees who worked from home. This quickly changed, however, as two months ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, firms had to rapidly embrace remote working overnight. One day, employees were in the office and the next, over 50%** of the population were working from home for the foreseeable future.

Driving Change

This unforeseen situation has forced companies to embrace technology and rethink their business strategies to transform their workplaces. Most business leaders have decided to launch digital transformation initiatives to keep businesses running as smoothly as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak and to better prepare for the recovery phase.

However, driving change during these unprecedented times is a challenge for both business leaders and employees.

In such a rapidly evolving situation, it is almost impossible to balance what is best for the company whilst protecting employees and still delivering a great experience to customers without the right strategy and tools. Additionally, businesses need to consider the fact that it is unlikely that things will get back to “normal” after the pandemic, and that this is an accelerated way of shaping the future of working life.

Become Risk-Proof

Becoming a risk proof business is the only way forward in a situation like this. It is essential to embrace the power of technology and stay ahead.

Dunkley’s Chartered Accountants are a prime example of a local, independent business who have managed to ensure they are risk-proof in light of COVID-19.

Over the last year, Dunkley’s have been working hard to embrace technology and transform the practice into a digital workplace. They have implemented a number of cloud-based solutions to not only help them become more efficient, but also benefit clients in receiving a better, more streamlined service and staff in their ability to be more flexible when it comes to working remotely.

The solutions they have implemented include a hosted platform enabling staff to work from any remote location, an online platform to produce electronic working papers, an online portal for sending, receiving, and approving documents and a cloud-based accounting solution that automates everyday business tasks including invoices, debt chasing and supplier payments.

Before COVID-19 hit, Dunkley’s had all their staff working in the office, no one worked from home. Overnight, this changed. On Monday 23rd March, like all other businesses the office closed its doors until further notice. With the solutions above implemented, Dunkley’s were able to react quickly and continue working to full strength in remote settings.

In recent years, Dunkley’s would have been, like a number of other businesses, scrambling to find ways and means of staying afloat when it came to COVID-19 as they wouldn’t have been able to just pick up from where they left off.

Having a risk-proof business model such as this has not only enabled them to continue providing invaluable support to their clients during this period but has also enabled them to work smarter and maintain a strong position in the market.

Director, Mike Dunkley states “by adopting these digital ways of working, we have found that the move to at home working has not affected our business. We have been able to embrace the digital tools we have and fully utilise them to ensure client expectations are exceeded. After all, keeping our clients informed, updated and happy is more important now, than it has ever been.”

Fellow director, Lisa White adds “as a business we have managed to create a resilient organisation that protects both our clients and staff through this pandemic. Even though we had to furlough some staff initially, we have been able to bring them back and move forward at full strength.”

New Possibilities

It is promising to see that local, independent businesses are able to quickly adapt and embrace this ‘new normal’. With this new normal, brings new possibilities as evidenced above. It is the perfect time to step back and look at the wider picture to see where improvements can be made to make a future-proof business.

Here are just a few possibilities to consider.

  1. Embrace technology. In these uncertain times, it proves anything can happen at any time. Is it time to take the plunge and embrace the digital world? Can taking this step help to streamline your business and not only enhance your business’ productivity but also help provide a better, more efficient service to your clients?
  2. Adapt and evolve. Having more time at home, gives everyone more time to think and reflect. Why not take this opportunity to step back and look at the wider picture? What can be done within your business to improve the services you provide and the process and policies you follow? Can they be simplified or differentiated to add value? What can you adapt and implement to take a positive step forward?
  3. Strengthen communications. It is always important to recognise staff and show them how their work impacts the business’ performance and drives it forward. Whilst working remotely, it is essential to enhance communications and boost the motivation within teams. What can you do to communicate and strengthen links between staff? This does not just have to be for the period of COVID-19, it can continue and help enhance the business as a whole for the future.
  4. Understand your workforce. Getting insights from your staff is vital when it comes to improving ways of working and implementing change as after all they are the ones it will affect. Listening to their views and asking leading questions will help to not only better understand their needs but also develop policies and procedures that bring out the best in them. Can your HR department take a leading role in influencing ideas and implementing change? What can you do to achieve better results internally? What will help staff to thrive and help the business recover after COVID-19?

If you need support or guidance on how to implement these for your business, feel free to get in touch with the team at Dunkley’s. They are here to help guide you on your journey to creating a risk-proof business. Call 01454 619900 or email today for your free initial consultation.

 *Office of National Statistics – Annual Population Survey, 2019
**Office of National Statistics – Business Impact of COVID-19, 2020

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