4 things 2020 taught us

remote workforce

I’ve been waiting a long time to say it: 2020 is over.

Throughout the year, we learned many lessons to keep our businesses running. There were ups and downs as COVID-19 forced us to look at the ways we do business, how we interact with our teams and how we focus our time and attention.

For some, it was a year of growth, as they found themselves in a prime position to serve their customer base. Others found themselves having to reinvent the way they think about their business in order to serve their customers safely.

Here are four ways 2020 had a powerful – and lasting – impact on the ebbs and flows of business.

1. Cloud is not an option anymore; it’s imperative

Yup! You read it correctly, the cloud is no longer optional. 2020 showed us that utilizing the cloud helps your organization survive, compete and most importantly, grow during a global crisis.

Tech evangelists have predicted the supremacy of the cloud for years now, telling anyone who will listen about the benefits of being able to access your data anywhere, on any device.

Despite the obvious advantages of moving to cloud-based platforms, some business owners have been a little cynical about the change. Obviously, that cynicism is much reduced today. Cloud proponents certainly weren’t banking on a pandemic to prove their point, but the point has been proved nevertheless.

Knowing what we know today, keeping all shared information on cloud-based servers is a must-have, as opposed to a nice-to-have. A day when no one can go to the office is no longer hypothetical; for many, it’s their everyday reality. Without full-featured cloud functionality, employees end up wasting countless hours trying to find and share the information they need to get work done.

From improved security and agility to simple upgrades with the very latest versions of solutions, for enterprises already operating in the cloud, disaster recovery wasn’t such a disaster.

2. Workplace: Home/Office/Hybrid

It was all quite a debatable topic this year: What will the workplace look like during a pandemic? How are we going to adapt to the new environment? What is going to happen afterward?

For organizations that adopted remote work in response to the pandemic, the requirements of the new workplace were overwhelming. Many of these companies had to make drastic changes, so they quickly adopted digital transformation initiatives that looked good on the surface, but ran into issues as they tried to ramp up remote workforces.

But, as with organizations already using the cloud, organizations that were already prepared to utilize a remote workforce – or were already on their digital transformation journeys – had fewer difficulties.

The big issue was the transition – because to keep their businesses going, organizations had to adapt quickly. Therefore, many of them cobbled together functional ways of working, even if they were less than optimal, according to Juliet Funt, a CEO, global keynote speaker and Fortune 500 advisor who specializes in unburdening talent from low-value busywork and unleashing its full potential.

The key, Funt says, is liberating talent to work more efficiently. remote workforce

Going forward, that’s going to be extremely important, as the next normal extends beyond the business continuity measures we’ve had to instantly adopt in every industry. Rather than a temporary measure, like many thought at first, among CFOs and finance leaders, 49 percent say remote work will become permanent for some roles, according to a recent Forbes article.

Looking at the options and the way business has changed this year, we can have a hybrid home/office model that will allow employees to save travel time and also allow their organizations to save infrastructure cost and maintenance. Spending less time managing on-premises systems also allows firms to focus on setting their talent free to provide the best products and services possible.

But the key to it all is not just easy access to information, but using it to make more-informed decisions.

3. Understand what’s important and train employees for the digital world

Perhaps the most obvious effect the pandemic has had on businesses was a massive acceleration of the process of moving to digital. This is a transformative moment for businesses globally, as digital transformation is no longer a long-term goal or a notional abstract, it is happening right now, in a very Darwinian model.

For example, Hyland took its workforce remote in less than a month. What’s more, we’ve sent out surveys and are working with employees to see what kind of hybrid model we will utilize as soon as it’s safe for people to return to our offices. Since we were already utilizing the cloud, this adjustment was much easier than if we had been relying on on-premises systems.

From employee management to productivity enhancement, and from product development to software deployment, organizations need to streamline their digital strategies to keep up with changing times. Some business will no longer exist in their present forms and some will slowly come back, but new models will surface that were born in a remote working environment. Whatever the post-pandemic world looks like for the enterprise, it will probably look a lot different than before.

So understanding the importance of digitalization and training your resources is a must-have strategy to grow during the next normal.

4. Support, wellness and diversity

2020 also taught us that support and wellness just might be the most important topic organizations need to address. As individuals, we’ve all gone through a tough time; indeed, the entire work culture has changed. For the time being, we don’t have colleagues sitting near us, it is our family members or roommates we are surrounded with – or those otherwise in our “bubble.”

For many individuals, this has been a blessing in disguise. But others long for a return to the camaraderie of the office.

At Hyland, support and wellness has always been important, but over the past year, we’ve become even more focused on mental and physical health. We’ve encouraged employees to come forward if they’re struggling to meet expectations during a time of upheaval – but the goal is always to offer solutions.

For us, work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a part of our core values. And a big part of that is diversity.

“A practitioner of nonviolent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The future depends on what you do today.’ So, today, we commit to listening and working closely with our employee diversity groups to determine how we can evolve as an organization to better support our people and communities,” wrote Bill Priemer, CEO and president of Hyland. “Today, we will identify and align philanthropically with organizations focused on social justice and equality. And today and always, we will stand true to our values in support of change.”

It’s important. And it just might have been the biggest lesson we learned last year.

A learning experience

2020 is now in the rearview mirror. Our goal shouldn’t be to forget it happened; we need to learn from the experience.

And standing true to our core values is the way forward. Together.

Ankit Kumar Shaw is a solution consultant for Hyland. A digital and analytics professional with more than six years of experience in cloud computing, data science, machine learning, deep learning, business intelligence and content services. He’s also a specialist in cognitive science, BI and emerging technologies. He lives in Kolkata, India.
Ankit Kumar Shaw
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Ankit Kumar Shaw

Ankit Kumar Shaw is a solution consultant for Hyland. A digital and analytics professional with more than six years of experience in cloud computing, data science, machine learning, deep learning,... read more about: Ankit Kumar Shaw