Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise offers advice on preparing teams for isolation
Over the last couple of years, we’ve begun to discover just how detrimental feelings of isolation can be for our teams. Even employees who might have assumed they would be comfortable “working alone” in the past have learned their creativity and productivity can suffer out of the office.
Unfortunately, for many companies, periods of lockdown and government-imposed restrictions may mean you have no choice but to require your teams to work from home in certain situations. When this is the case, companies need to be properly prepared to assist their employees in operating effectively from home.
I spoke to Toni Galo from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise about his suggestions for surviving ongoing isolation in today’s unpredictable world. Toni is the Cloud Solution Marketing Consultant for ALE, with years of experience helping to drive and initiate business transformation efforts.
While most people didn’t expect the shift to hybrid and remote working practices to happen as quickly as it has, there are definitely benefits to the distributed workforce. Allowing team members to work, at least partially, from home, can improve their productivity levels, reduce the costs of in-house staff, and even enhance overall business performance.
The benefits of remote and distributed working are why so many companies have begun implementing long-term hybrid working strategies. However, the threat of isolation is why the majority of companies are focusing on “hybrid” work, rather than all-remote operations. For many employees, there still needs to be some connection with the standard workforce in place. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible during periods of isolation.
During previous lockdowns in 2021, Toni published a blog about the importance of building strong collaborative foundations to protect against isolations. Today, he says further work needs to be done to prepare for ongoing isolation. “With the incidence numbers of infection in the world beginning to steadily grow again, many countries are edging towards another lockdown. The demand for caution on a greater level means many people will soon be isolating both professionally and privately again.”
According to Galo, companies going into the next isolation with the same lack of preparation exhibited during earlier lockdowns risk significant issues. “Productivity will start to drop, and engagement will fall again, pushing companies further behind on targets.”
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has been one of the many companies helping brands of all sizes make the transition to a new world of work in the current landscape. The company, and Toni Galo has learned a few things over the last couple of years.
“Perhaps the most important lesson to learn is there needs to be a real strategy in place. People in recent lockdowns have simply responded to the issue as best they could when it happened, rather than having the right strategies in place already. While we didn’t expect to have to suddenly shut down companies and work remotely the first time the lockdown happened, we have more time to properly plan and consider our options this time around”
Toni noted that without preparation, there’s no chance of maintaining the levels of productivity engagement most companies need to thrive. In the previous lockdowns, half of the working world saw losses in productivity simply because people weren’t prepared to work in a new environment.
“We need to make sure the right strategies are in place to help all employees – particularly the ones who have spent decades working in the office and following specific routines.”
When I asked him which tips, he would give to companies facing upcoming lockdowns, Toni reiterated the most important thing for companies right now is planning. The faster organisations can begin examining the market and looking for the right technology and tools, the better off they’ll be.
“People need to start thinking about how they can genuinely provide the best possible working experience for their customers. We need to look at how we’re going to keep people feeling engaged, happy, and connected with the team when they’re at home, and how we’re going to continue encouraging high levels of productivity and efficiency.”
The key to success, according to ALE, isn’t simply responding to issues as they present themselves and doing your best to solve emerging problems. Companies need to consider the future and the long-term strategy they’re going to have in place for flexibility.
“There are certain things that are going to be particularly essential going forward. For instance, first and foremost, the applications and tools you choose to enable your workforce are going to need to integrate well with the current services and systems you’re using. Flexibility is going to be essential for any business hoping to evolve.”
Toni also suggests looking for stability in future tools. Though any communication system can suffer from problems, stability can be improved by interacting with the right vendors and partners to support you when you’re transforming your workplace strategy. “Stability in the form of reliable and ongoing support when you need it most will be crucial.”
Finally, Galo says companies will need to start listening more intently to their employees. Creating an open channel of communication in an evolving workplace will be essential. Not only will being “listened to” make employees feel less isolated – but it will also help companies to collect important information about what their staff really need too.
“Creating an internal channel for strong communication will be a must-have to prepare for ongoing isolations. You’ll need to find multiple ways to collect customer feedback and ensure you’re accessing the right tools for their needs. If you try to implement technology your employees don’t want without their approval, this is where problems start, and shadow IT begins.”
While any sudden and unwanted transition can be a complicated experience for a business, companies have the opportunity to prepare more effectively for changes in the years ahead. Toni and ALE’s tips should help you to get on the right track.