The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major shift in the plans of every North American business, with suggested self-quarantines and social distancing guidelines causing unprecedented uncertainty. Companies are trying to continue conducting business as close to normal as possible, and this typically means implementing remote work policies. Many companies are not very experienced with facilitating remote work on a large scale; now is the perfect time to learn how many traditional in-person tasks can be easily accomplished away from the office.
For example, these seven common business interactions can be conducted almost seamlessly remotely, in many cases with technology companies already have, or can easily acquire—even during this pandemic.
- The walk up: An employee approaches a fellow employee or current or potential client to initiate a conversation. In a remote work environment, those same interactions can take place from a distance in Microsoft Teams, with interactive chat, video and document sharing capabilities.
- The sales pitch: Traditionally a company will present capabilities in face-to-face meetings with a prospective client and present a proposal. In a remote workplace, companies can leverage Teams for video meetings with prospects, and use Microsoft’s Word, PowerPoint and OneDrive for Business to create and communicate qualifications and proposals.
- The working session: On any given day in the office, employees collaborate and meet with clients to outline strategies and concepts. In a remote scenario, people can have the same interaction through Teams Meeting and the Microsoft Whiteboard applications.
- The monthly business review: In every business, stakeholders periodically gather to review key business metrics and documents. Several Microsoft platforms can effectively simulate these reviews, including Teams, Power BI, Word, Forms and Meeting Notes.
- The final review: Near the conclusion of a project, people often pass a document around the office for one last review. Employees can replicate that behavior with Microsoft Outlook or Teams.
- The employee review: At certain points of the year, employees typically meet with superiors to evaluate job performance. This too can be performed within Teams, with possible support through Microsoft PowerPoint and Power Apps.
- The water cooler: One of the difficult side effects of self-quarantining for many employees is the lack of social interaction. However, organizations can hold virtual social hours through Teams to facilitate connections between officemates and regain some of the normal office camaraderie and communication.
Clearly, with some creativity and flexibility, these seven interactions can be adapted and accomplished within a different environment.
If a business has Microsoft Office 365, the majority of these solutions are already purchased and available. If a business does not have Office 365, Microsoft has given individuals and businesses free access to the suite of applications and services for six months, to ensure that companies can continue to work together and get things done remotely.
While the coronavirus has forced a significant shift toward mandatory remote work for many middle market companies, it can actually be a transformative step for the business. Once the pandemic has subsided, companies that are comfortable leveraging technology to increase remote work capabilities will be well-situated to enhance access and visibility, and extend the capabilities of the business to more efficiently meet customer and employee needs moving forward.