Since the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the global outbreak of the COVID-19, people around the world quickly scrambled in response to quarantines and social distancing orders. It is clear that the world was and still is not ready for an isolated world, all hope is not lost however, with crisis comes new opportunities and the society under COVID-19 adapts in response with technology and the internet. How the post-pandemic workplace will operate is not a distant future out of reach but an imminent reality and it is evident that changes brought to businesses by the impact of COVID-19 are no longer transient and the many of them are far from ready.
Remote work will become more and more popular
The social distancing policy brought by COVID-19 gave many people their first taste of remote working. As a manager, it is very easy to assume that employees will become lazy and lose productivity because no one is around to monitor them. The fact is the exact opposite of the popular belief, a 2020 report compiled by GitLab discovers that roughly half of the respondents find themselves to be more productive and efficient.
It is no gut feeling either, a 2017 study spanning over 2 years published by Stanford found that remote working leads to a 13% increase in productivity. Another 2020 survey conducted by Buffer suggests that 97% of the respondents (including both employees) and employers would recommend others to try remote working. A 2019 report published by International Workplace Group indicates that flexible workspace policy boosts productivity by eliminating long commute time, as it only takes 20 minutes of commute time to increase mental stress. Hong Kong is relatively small and despite having one of the best public transport networks in the world, research shows that on average, employees take 1 and a half hours to commute or roughly 276 hours annually. Imagine spending those extra 10 days on actual productivity instead of stressful daily commutes!
Cloud computing and moving business online
What exactly is cloud computing? In the simplest term, remote clusters of computers available on demand. You might say, “Okay…? That does not answer the question of why and how will it benefit my business.” Simply think that they are networks of computers available for use whenever and wherever you need them as long as there is an active internet connection.
Many companies choose to migrate their systems onto the cloud these days to cut maintenance costs, especially to companies not in the IT industries. Not having to hire a large amount of people to maintain the servers, paying less electricity bills for cooling and running the servers are attractive incentives to make the transition. The flexibility to allocate the right amount of resources at the right time also allows your business to minimize overhead costs and allocate more resources to focus on the primary goal.
It does not mean cloud computing only benefits businesses with a sizable amount of digital assets. As businesses gradually develop their presence online, it is very likely their services will also be available online making them more accessible to the customers.
Accelerated growth and heightened digital literacy (and higher digital literacy requirements for employees)
Contingencies accelerate technology advancements at a rapid pace. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic created an immediate need for the society to adopt new tools and technologies. The working force is no different, employers expect them to be able to learn and use new technologies. For example, video conferencing software and VPNs were often seen as specialized tools used mostly by professionals, however at the current times, the ability to use these tools are no longer an advantage but a must. Doesn’t help the fact that in the next 5 years, over half of the working population will be millennials, the generation growing up using computers and other technologies.
How to transform and upgrade your business to adapt these changes
How ready is your business to embrace these changes and what are next in the parade of constant obstacles? Changes brought by the pandemic are not transient but a permanent one, future-proofing your business is not as a colossal task as it seems. Obviously not all businesses can be completely made online (e.g. construction companies) but some part of the business can still make the transition.
Factors to consider
What is the primary purpose of the transformation?
What is your business model?
How much is the budget?
Are most of the daily tasks repetitive and predictable?
Can these tasks be done more easily with a computer? (e.g. bookkeeping, reservations, orders)
How many of these tasks require the employee to be physically present in the office?
Does your business require a large amount of computing resources?
These factors determine what kind of cloud service is suitable for your business, most of the smaller businesses are already using SaaS, while bigger companies use IaaS to cut costs.
IaaS, FaaS, SaaS… what? How do I choose?Confused? Jargons are esoteric as they sound. Let me explain and help you choose the one suitable for you.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS is usually accessed via a web browser. SaaS is the most uncomplicated form of cloud services since only the vendors have control over the backend configurations: runtime, network, servers etc.. GSuite(Gmail, Slides, Document etc.) for example is the one of the most used SaaS. Does your business require a large amount of computing resources? If the answer is no, it is probably the most suitable type of cloud computing for your business.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
As the name suggests IaaS provides the base infrastructure such as data centers, virtual machines, storage, security etc. IaaS is akin to having your own data center, you can control the amount computing power is needed. IaaS offers the most control out of all the options but also often the most expensive option. If your business requires running programs or other tasks traditionally done by a server, IaaS is your choice. Compute Engine in GCP, EC2 in AWS and VM by Azure are some of the primary examples of IaaS.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
PaaS provides a platform for the user to deploy, run and manage applications, however unlike SaaS, instead of configuring manually, PaaS manages the platform for you. Google App Engine, Heroku, AWS Beanstalk are some of the primary examples of PaaS.
FaaS (Function as a Service)
Can the task be broken down into short codes? If your answer is yes, FaaS may be most suitable for you. FaaS allows the user to deploy, run and manage application functions. For example, recently I worked on a project involving pulling logs from a virtual machine and put them into a Google BigQuery bucket. The Node.js code is triggered every time the scheduled log push routine in the log server is finished and automatically creates a BigQuery bucket with data in it. Google Cloud Function, AWS Lambda are some of the primary examples of FaaS.
In the age of the rapidly changing world, it is very important to remember that none of these types of service are mutually exclusive, so mix and match to meet the requirements and needs!
Figure a way to communicate effectively and addressing trust issues in your business
While this article is about workplace management, company policies are also an important factor to consider when making the transition. The biggest resistance against remote work is communication and trust. According to the survey by Stack the biggest challenges of working remotely are collaboration, communication and loneliness which account for a combined 58% of the respondents. Considering communication and collaboration issues also commonly exist in physical offices, it is not surprising the same problem exists in remote work.
Communication problems aside, company policies more or less reflect how much the employers are willing to trust the employees. Generally stricter the policy the less trustful is the business is to its employees. A 2015 study found a very strong correlation between trust and workplace performance. According to the study, the more the company is willing to trust the employees, the better they will perform.
To maximize the benefits of remote work, companies must be willing to and ready to make changes.
Ready to make the transformation with us?
Hopefully this article gave you a better idea on how to prepare your business for the post-pandemic workplace. Are you ready to make the move? Master Concept is the winner of Google Cloud Specialization Partner of the Year in Work Transformation in 2020 and a long-time Google Cloud Premier Partner. We provide clients one-stop work transformation solutions tailor-made just for your company. With offices in multiple major cities around the world, we can customize and localize the solution for your company.
Not only did we successfully transform the business of over 300 companies of different sizes in the APAC region by integrating Google Cloud solutions, we are the Top 3 Google Cloud Partner in Asia and Top 20 Google Cloud Partner in the World, winning multiple prestigious awards against the best system integrators around the world.
What are you waiting for? Call us at (852)3589 6700 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.