A look into how SMEs were challenged during lockdown
Nobody could have predicted 2020. A pandemic that swept around the globe locked down the world in an instant, catching most businesses by surprise. Remote working strategies were cobbled together, with many businesses simply not having the technology or knowhow to support the required rapid release.
We asked the leaders of our SME customers across a wide range of sectors, together with our own team of tech experts about their lockdown communications experience. We took the collective feedback and created a report, crammed full of interesting statistics.
Companies that had relied on face-to-face meetings or traditional communications, such as a single phone line or mobile phone, shifted almost overnight to homeworking, scrabbling to understand new phrases like unified collaboration, VoIP, video conferencing and team chat. Something they weren’t quite ready for after a year of mainly discussing BREXIT.
Employees were asked to create makeshift home offices wherever they had space. Bosses were happy to have the odd child, pet or partner appear in the background of a meeting in exchange for being able to keep trading. More challenging were the ad hoc solutions being used; the lack of experience and ability to train; running business grade communications tools across the poor, unstable connectivity of home broadband; and the mindset shift for employees to work a different way in a different environment.
Video conferencing solutions like Microsoft Teams and Zoom were quickly deployed to help with collaboration, often almost ‘sellotaped’ on to existing technology being used. But, however much this may not have been the most strategic approach, our survey results tell us that most businesses reported success with their initial deployment with the goal being to simply carry on working.
What was missing though was the in-person interaction that happens within office spaces every day. The natural conversations that spark thoughts and solve problems. When using video conferencing to hold meetings, people are more reserved; often quieter, not wanting to show their face on screen or wanting people to see their surroundings. But businesses still need that interaction and true collaboration – talking to participants identified only by their initials simply makes things harder. We’d never have to cry “You’re on mute” or “Can you see my screen” if we were all in the office together would we?
With so many technologies being deployed so quickly, both employees and IT teams felt the pain. In every company there are those that are tech savvy, and those that are less so. How can you remotely support the tech to ensure that it’s easy and enjoyable to use for everyone and is not causing unnecessary stress or having a negative impact on productivity? Emails and persistent chat went through the roof and work/home life started to blur. 2020 has been a challenging year for most, but the resilience shown in our feedback provides hope for 2021.
Our in depth report not only gives you the facts and stats of how other companies have fared this year, both good and bad, but it discusses the important issues of what you should be doing to move forward and grow next year and beyond.