For many of us, it is the first time that all our media channels – personal, business and public – alongside our home and social interactions, have had a truly common theme.  The Coronavirus pandemic has led to changes in every aspect of our lives and is likely to influence how we live and work for a long while to come. Business owners and IT teams have had to step up and adapt to the changes thrust upon us, and we’ve seen that remote working has kept businesses in-business.

Over the past few months, IT teams across the world have taken herculean steps to react to urgent calls to change how businesses operate. Large swathes of the global workforce have been enabled to work from home, collaboration has moved online and while supermarkets have seen online demand rocket, other retail markets have vanished overnight.

These changes have required rapid responses – decision making has been agile, current solutions extended and new capabilities quickly deployed. Processes developed over many years have been put to one side for change to be achieved. It has been a time where the phrase “if we don’t get this into place quickly, we may not survive…” will have been uttered across many boardrooms and widely cascaded.

Cloud, digital workspace technologies and remote working have kept businesses in-business and employees working

This scale of change, pace of innovation and demonstration of agility across all business functions to achieve the levels of success we have witnessed, would have been inconceivable in January. The nature of the global technology landscape with scalable cloud solutions, robust virtual desktop platforms, cost effective and high-quality video conferencing services, and high-speed home broadband among many other services, has been fundamental to making remote working a reality. 

As governments start to look ahead, we are moving into a phase where controls on our working environment, while not as restrictive as lockdown, will not support a return to 2019 practices and are likely to persist for an extended period.  For many organisations there is a new reality where flexible working, reduced office footprints, reduced travel and increased work life balance have been proven to be feasible without the need for analysis and debate. This presents the opportunity to return to a different way of operating for the long term, with potential to support the environment as well as the balance sheet.

IT teams must look ahead and ensure solutions are fit for the future

The solutions that have been quickly deployed will continue to be key dependencies for this next phase. While it is highly likely that core functionality has been proven through ongoing business use, it now becomes a priority for IT teams to ensure that they are fit for purpose and brought under normal operational support practices. Activities to be carried out include reviewing configuration against best practice, confirming security controls, validating access and permissions and right-sizing contracts and pricing.

Alongside this, businesses need to ensure that they have the right skills and organisational capacity to manage these new services and ensure that they continue to deliver the best performance in a secure and robust manner. These actions will ensure that these new business dependencies are robust for the near term and can be further evaluated for long term adoption as business strategies evolve in the light of new guidance and changing market dynamics.

For many years, a business continuity event closing an office or requiring employees to work from home for more than a few days has been a standard line item for Risk and Compliance Teams, routinely classified as “Unlikely”.  Around the world, we have together entered a new era where proven solutions, able to be activated at short notice or used as part of normal working practices will be a mandated requirement, not an option subject to risk appetite.

There are many IT service providers who have the skills and knowledge to support customers through these activities, and unfortunately a small number who will oversell their capabilities to take advantage of the urgency of the situation. It is key to test capabilities, talk to reference customers and look for robust examples of prior delivery – do they truly understand the steps required to protect your environment?

To summarise, the previous ground rules changed in an instant and the impact will be felt for the long term. Businesses have reacted with speed and to great success by applying complete focus and, where necessary, relaxing processes and controls to support rapid delivery.  Yet, these interim solutions may not be as robust as they need to be, and plans are needed to manage and mitigate the risks that have been introduced. Whatever your plan to navigate the coming months we wish you and your colleagues a safe and successful passage.

Xtravirt offer a range of consulting services designed to future-proof your digital workspace.  To find out more check out this Guide to Xtravirt’s Digital Workspace Packaged Services, or request a call back from one of our team.