With so many people sheltering in place, this unique period is giving many companies the opportunity to completely re-think the processes that they have traditionally used to accomplish their mission. Many companies are realizing that work-from-home can be in fact very effective, and can significantly reduce their overhead costs. Companies are coming to the realization that cloud-based services which facilitate communications and other vital corporate functions have matured substantially, and are now perfectly able to provide effective, efficient support to remote staff. Teams no longer need to be co-located in the same physical office space. With the right tools, team members can be empowered to work effectively from a distance. This realization is allowing companies to re-think the need for offices and traditional conference rooms in the first place.
While this awareness is not new to many advanced technology companies, such as those based in Silicon Valley, businesses all across America are now discovering new opportunities to streamline operations and reduce costs through access to advanced cloud-based technologies.
Some examples of the many areas impacted by this shift include:
- Video conferencing instead of in-person meetings
- Corporate chat and messaging services which can effectively substitute for most formal and informal meetings
- Cloud-based time management, project management, and task management systems which provide an alternative to traditional face-to-face reviews and updates
- Distance learning systems which provide a viable alternative to in-person classroom-based teaching
In addition, a number of services that were typically provided to employees in the office are now able to be provided remotely, often at much lower costs. The advent of universal broadband services, combined with ubiquitous mobile access, is the foundation which allows a wide range of cloud-based services to be deployed. A perfect example of this is the typical process for acquiring photo ID cards for a newly-hired staff member. The traditional process involved the employee going to the HR department to get his photo taken and card printed. This might only take half an hour if the employee is in the same building as the HR department, but could take up to half a day if the employee needed to travel across town to accomplish this basic task.
Companies are now realizing that it is faster, and cheaper, to use a cloud-based service to produce photo ID cards. Employees can submit digital photos online, and authorized HR staff can simply order the card for delivery to the appropriate office, or even to a home address. Companies are realizing that his kind of service, which was previously thought of as a quintessential face-to-face procedure, can be re-thought. Today, during the onboarding process, it is easy to build in a step to order the ID badge online, and have that badge delivered the next day, or in a few days, to the address where the employee will be working from. This eliminates much of the cost in down-time for the employee, not to mention the expense of running a badge printing service in-house.
With more people working from home, and only able to come to the office occasionally, or even not at all, companies are seeking alternative solutions to their traditional work methods. Fortunately, this coincides with the rise of reliable, inexpensive SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions which in many cases obviate the need for the employee to travel at all. And once adequately tested, these services often prove to be far better, and less expensive, than the previous methods which involved direct human contact.
So, during this period of “social distancing”, we see a silver lining in in the dark cloud of the pandemic. The advantage of being able to test and implement cloud-services to replace the previous methods of doing business will help companies streamline their operations and improve their operational efficiency.