Posted

 

by Patti Dismukes, VP of Professional Services

 

COVID created a once in a lifetime situation – Georgia issued a “shelter in place” which meant all non-essential workers and businesses must stay in their homes.  For most companies, this meant 100% work-from-home for all employees.  A large percentage of companies had limited or no work-from-home guidelines.  A herculean effort took place and CIOs and technology leaders quickly became the modern-day heroes driving digital access at lightning speed.  In most cases, companies didn’t miss a beat and rose to the occasion of keeping their companies operational. Most companies assumed their internet connections would just be there, work efficiently and be safe.  Tremendous efforts “behind the scenes” have been and are still happening to ensure this critical worldwide infrastructure is operational and secure. Imagine if this had happened 5 years ago.

How quickly our world has changed!  More than ever we are creative, adaptable and agile.  We’ve been challenged with and adapted to long days of virtual meetings, homeschooling our children, eating all meals at home, working more hours per day, giving up the daily commutes, searching for hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels, etc.  Now that we’re over 12 weeks into our WFH experiment, what do we plan for the remainder of the year?  How will companies reinvent themselves or change their culture to meet the new normal?  As Georgia begins to lift restrictions and encourage life to get back to a new normal routine, HUNTER Technical was interested to hear how our clients plan to move forward.  We’re all thinking differently about business models, clients/customer interactions, networking events, team building, etc.  This is a great time to gather information, learn from each other, and begin thinking about reinventing.

HUNTER Technical personally spoke with over fifty of our clients in Atlanta and Dallas.  As we navigate our model and new normal to better meet our clients’ needs and expectations, it’s important that we listen, learn and align.

There was unanimous agreement and pride from our clients that their individual companies did an incredible job getting their employees working from home quickly.  Most leaders started discussing and planning the weekend before the “shelter in place” order was issued.  Executing on the plan was a whole new frontier.  Most shared that they were impressed by the transition to remote work and how quickly they adjusted to this bizarre set of circumstances.  Due to the success of the transition, companies are rethinking how the work gets done and the necessity of going into an office.

During our conversations, we asked our clients about productivity over the last couple of months, and their plans to open offices and charting the path to a new normal as employees return.

Some of the feedback we received on productivity highlighted that work-from-home is here to stay:

  • The teams are staying productive, and the company is happy with overall productivity levels and pushing for many teams to stay remotely indefinitely.
  • Everyone seems to be “chugging along.” Most of the development teams have been very productive, but our sales teams are finding it difficult without client meetings and travel.
  • March was a mad rush to get everything set up to work from home. April and May data has shown that we are more productive, better uptime, through-put and delivery rates.  A high sense of “rugged individualism.”
  • For the most part, WFH has been very good. We doing regular check-ins calls with everyone and virtual happy hours to stay connected.
  • Working fairly well and no major impact to business.
  • Business is coming back (revenue down but volume is coming back). We are tracking productivity and find we are significantly more productive working from home.

When asked about plans to return to the office, health and safety are at the forefront of restart decisions.  Opening offices can only begin when a workplace is widely perceived as safe.  Most are looking at a slow phased approach.  Some of the information shared:

  • We will likely do a staggered approach, and non-essential employees will continue to work remotely indefinitely.
  • Some employees want to return to the office, but most don’t feel ready yet. We will allow a certain number of employees to return to the office at one time and they will need manager permission.
  • Planning for June 15, but that’s just an initial date. We will be closing all conference rooms and common areas.  No food allowed to be delivered.  Employees will be required to wear masks and temperature checks upon arriving at the office.
  • No plans to reopen the office currently.
  • Things seem to be going very successful as a whole working from home, so no immediate plans to go back to the office soon.
  • Determining what roles need to be the office. Will evaluate IT at the tribe level (all work from home or all go to the office).  No visitors, no conference rooms open, no common areas open.
  • Back on rotating basis – 10 people in office at a time. Desks are distanced and everyone has hand sanitizers, masks, gloves at their desk.  Changed fingerprint reader to key fobs for entrances.
  • We’re being cautious with everything. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all scenario.  Each location will be different.  The earliest there will be any return to the office will be July.
  • We’re back in the office as needed – arranged group-by-group funneling up to the global organization based on the local laws, needs, etc.
  • Unofficial plan is for teams to work from home until end-of-the-year.
  • We’re nowhere near going back. Open-ended time frame, too many restrictions on how to handle things.  Too much of a logistical hassle.
  • Company initially decided everyone would remote work through end of the year. Now shifted to surveying employees to ask what they want to do.

Clearly, opening offices will be driven by what is best for employee safety.  Working from home for the remainder of the year or a phased approach seem to be the two options most companies are choosing.  As employees return, it is fundamental that companies put protocols in place to protect their employees.

Company leaders are aware that uncertainty will remain for some time.  The success of remote work creates opportunities for reshaping the way companies do business.  The best news and biggest surprise are how quickly the world adjusted to this bizarre set of circumstances.  Rethinking how work gets done and the necessity of coming to the office are discussions all leaders are pondering.

Out of crisis comes tremendous innovation and opportunities.  We will continue conversations with our clients to ask how they are changing to new business models, accelerating business model changes already in the works, and how they anticipate consumer and business demands.  The next couple of years will be very interesting and challenging as companies work to get to the pre-COVID level of business and revenue.

We commend all the heroic IT Teams for being a key ingredient in keeping their companies operational!

About HUNTER Technical:  HUNTER Technical has been in business for over 22 years providing staffing and professional services solutions.  We have offices in Atlanta (corporate) and Dallas and provide highly skilled resources and services nationally.