Covid-19 a turning point for remote working

Aidan Furlong, country manager at Avaya Ireland, believes the situation surrounding Covid-19 could be the turning point for many businesses in Ireland. 

As the worldwide response to COVID-19 continues to scale up and governments look to implement self-isolation in major cities and towns, businesses are preparing their staff to work from home for the foreseeable future as we ride out the pandemic.

Around the world companies are doing their part to help businesses tackle this global health challenge. But it’s not just businesses. To keep our schools going, we are offering our online collaboration app, Avaya Spaces, to all schools for free, worldwide. Crucially, it’s easy-to-use (as who has the time for training just now?) and needs no installation or downloading. Non-profit organisations are also included in the offer.

We’re all hoping that 90 days, or three months, will be long enough to keep us in good health and come out the other side. Businesses that use Avaya contact centre solutions can take advantage of our 90-day free trial and quickly set up their workforce to become Remote Agents, handling calls from home without compromising either the customer and employee experience.

Remote working as the norm

But whilst social distancing will mean that many more people are working remotely, doing so has additional benefits to slowing the spread of COVID-19, and it could be that this is the turning point organisations needed in order to put a proper ‘working from home’ plan into action for their employees.

Aidan Furlong says now is the time for businesses to explore remote working

Having the opportunity to work remotely is one of the key benefits millennials are looking for when job-seeking and for employers, having a remote working policy is therefore becoming a must-have. According to research conducted on behalf of Avaya by Davies Hickman Partners, 70 per cent (pc) of UK employees say better internal collaboration between customer service, the back office and others would improve productivity and happiness at work. Furthermore, 77pc believe collaboration technology, e.g. desktop sharing, video conferencing, IM, phones and software can help boost their productivity. It’s also worth noting that in the same survey, 61pc of UK employees said they get frustrated when their employer doesn’t use technology which improves productivity.

Remote working policy

A written remote working policy should already be in place that governs remote workers with clear and uniform rules. This policy should make clear that all company policies still apply – in addition to those specifically for remote workers. The focus should be on job responsibilities, organisational and departmental goals and objectives, customer impact and employee’s work performance.

For all workers transitioning from traditional in-office roles to a remote basis, even if temporary, reinforce your policies and practices regarding customer sensitive information and data protection – the rules still apply.

Personality plays a part

When it comes to communication, not everyone is the same. Where one person might thrive on the physical presence of colleagues, another might perform better with a bit of distance and formality. Providing alternative ways to communicate, such as online chat or messaging as part of an instant collaboration tool, shows support for employees who might experience anxiety or stress when asked to express themselves verbally or under visual scrutiny.

Reducing emissions

Quite aside from the current health emergency taking place, it is also worth addressing that remote working is a way that we can all reduce our individual carbon footprint. Cloud-based collaboration tools can allow for seamless video-conferencing which can reduce the need for commuting in to large cities and even in some cases, reduce the need for excessive business air travel.

By providing a way for employees to be productive from any location, businesses no longer have to look to hire staff living within the commuter belt of their offices, meaning they are opened up to hiring the very best people, wherever they may be based.

Relationship building

With the advent of social media, we’ve seen that relationships can be developed between humans, no matter where they are situated. Employers need not worry that their teams will be unable to develop important relationships with clients, colleagues and other stakeholders if they only interact digitally. Whilst it’s ideal to be able to meet in person, video collaboration still enables the bonds of fellowship to be forged and allows relationships to be maintained on an ongoing basis between physical meetings. In many cases, users find that by adding video conferencing tools to their arsenal, they feel more in command of their own workload and engaged in their interactions.

By Aidan Furlong,

Aidan Furlong is the country general manager at Avaya Ireland. Avaya elevates communications to the next generation of engagement, connecting organisations to their customers, workforce and communities.

Published: 19 March, 2020