Support in a pandemic: Lessons learned and looking ahead

Support in a pandemic: Lessons learned and looking ahead

A number of companies were represented at the first virtual local HDI Chapter held in June of 2020 meeting including US Bank, TEKsystems, SAIF, Samaritan Health, OSU, Legacy Health, CompTIA, BridgeTech, and Temple University.

 

Lessons learned

All organizations had to do quick expansion of work from home programs. Overall, 25% reported the shift to telework required “Hurculean effort” while 42% reported the process to be “easy peasy.” The remainder (33%) classified the work as requiring a “moderate effort.” All agreed that heavy reliance on collaboration tools has helped in the new paradigm.

 Contributions:

  • A significant differentiator for ease of transition to a home workplace was existing laptop inventory and percent of employees who already had laptops.  Some deployed desktops for use at home. Often without wireless cards, these were either cabled or needed external WiFi cards - and education for how to use them.
  • Work environments (specifically a call center) where people shared desks faced additional challenges.
  • Many found procurement of equipment for use with remote work to be a challenge (laptops, web cams, headsets, etc.) One of our members sourced laptops quickly by renting them.
  • Some organizations experienced challenges with VPN capacity. In one instance, ongoing demand is now 3x even the highest historical volumes.
  • Healthcare organizations experienced additional complexities empowering doctors to perform televisits noting challenges spanning from equipment to insurance billing.
  • Defining specific work-streams with different teams was reported to be very successful for one our participants.
  • For several, maturation of collaboration tools had to be fast-tracked. Teams was the most commonly used (83%), though Slack, Skype, Zoom and WebEx were also mentioned. Many expressed that this experience is likely to result in a long-term shift in functionality and usage patterns of the collaboration tool-set.
  • It was reported that bandwidth for video was found to contribute to sound quality issues. Disabling video helped improve audio quality.
  • One organization mailed coffee mugs to everyone in the company with an intent to boost morale. Even cooler – it had the side bonus of encouraging people to schedule “virtual” coffee breaks with each other.

 

Looking ahead

67% of participants have started planning for return to work, though none volunteered that their organizations were in a hurry to return to the office. Many acknowledged a potential for impacts to their organization’s financials due to the pandemic.

Contributions:

  • Most are finding the remote workforce to be productive. In fact, some are evaluating keeping segments of their workforce telecommuting. One is now 100% remote and evaluating permanent downsizing of facility space.
  • Several infection prevention approaches were mentioned as either being in place or considered. Measures included temperature checks, required training, written compliance agreements, workspace and terminal cleaning, mask protocols, and space planning to maximize physical distancing for desks.'
  • One participant said that they are working to establish plans to creatively address situations where folks who visit the IS team(s) but choose not to adhere to mask and other safety protocols.
  • For techs who travel to different desks, one organization is issuing keyboards and mice that can be swapped out before performing work and also promoting use of gloves.
  • Communication will be key to continued efforts. At one organization, the CEO is doing a weekly webcast to keep everyone in the loop on re-opening. Similar communication opportunities are in place at other companies.
  • Many are considering or addressing budget reductions that included careful purchasing, pay cuts, hours reductions, furloughing staff, and requiring use of PTO. One participant’s organization is using a “check out” approach for new equipment to reduce need for ordering.
  • It was noted that there are also some financial savings inherent in the current condition with reduction in in-office perks (team lunches, etc.), reduced mileage expenses, etc.

 

If you’d like more detailed highlights from the meeting, please  contact us

Many thanks to all of the fantastic contributions from our "virtual" participants!