The Most Important Piece of Business Continuity: Your People and Their Experiences

Mar 19, 2020
Josh Olson

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Josh Olson is the Head of Experience Solutions - Americas at VMware. With over 20 years of experience, he is a recognized expert in the intersection of the employee and their workplace and work styles. He has an MBA in strategy and has held diverse senior sales roles at UUnet, EMC, and Oracle prior to coming to VMware. He developed and oversaw solutions ranging from internet backbone, remote access, data management, HR, Financial, Sales and eCommerce solutions. Today, he leverages his multi-industry, multi-discipline background to guide organizations on how they can provide the best customer, employee, and partner experiences to grow their revenues, profits and loyalty.

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In times of large scale global challenges, two things often happen. First, we tend to bond together as a society to face challenges together. We grow closer to our faith, family and friends. We reprioritize our lives around what truly matters. Second, we create new tools to help us address the challenges as “necessity is the mother of invention”.

Today we are faced with a global emergency causing companies and organizations to re-think their business continuance (BC) strategies. Years ago, I used to sell disaster recovery software. We often got into business continuance discussions. Customers wanted to know, “How can we keep the lights on when disaster strikes?” Companies wanted to ensure their data was replicated from primary to secondary data centers in case of a disaster they’d have their data. They wanted all their systems to always be available. They wanted to know their business data could survive if there was a flood or tornado that hit their primary data center. Times have changed, challenges have changed. We now want to ensure our people and businesses survive. We need new ways to address Business Continuance holistically not just from a data perspective.

Given all of the recent global focus on this global emergency, its no wonder business leaders are panicked. No wonder markets are spooked. We are in challenging times. And many companies know, they aren’t prepared, they don’t have the business continuance measures in place that they needed. It’s in times like this that I’m reminded of a quote from MLK.

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Martin Luther King

 

The Changing Nature of Work

Now with health concerns and social distancing measures in place, we’re gonna find out which normal meetings really should be a quick email after all. There is potential for information workers to get much more efficient. In an incredibly short period of time, companies moved from work as a place like “thou shalt work in the office only” to work as something you do and “go home, don’t even think of coming into the office!”. Not all companies were prepared for the rapid need to move to remote work. However, they should plan to see more of it. 

In a recent survey of American office workers commissioned by Zapier, 95 percent of respondents said they wanted to work off-site — and 74 percent would gladly switch jobs to do that!

Additionally, the Zapier study found that remote work is a highly desired perk with nearly 3 in 5 knowledge workers (57 percent) saying the option to work remotely is one of the perks they’d most prefer to be offered by an employer. In fact, remote work is more desirable than Free Daily Lunch (42%), Unlimited Vacation Time (39%) and Recreational Activities (25%). For comparison, 31% of Millennial knowledge workers, and 27% of Gen Xers work remotely full-time. Only 11 percent of Baby Boomers do today.

Knowing this pent up demand exists and its importance to employees, companies should enable information workers with Digital Workspaces that are intuitive and “frictionless”. Focus on modeling the digital workspaces across all devices so that it mimics the experiences that all generations have today on mobile phones. 

The key to successful Remote Work is having everything you need at your figure tips. No one likes it when files, tools, systems and red tape are getting in the way of progress. In the normal course of business, some of this may be overcome in a hallway conversation where someone overhears about a workaround to a cumbersome process. However, in a remote work scenario, you don’t have the preverbal water cooler conversations. Instead, you need a way to centralize and unify the diversity of experiences required to make work happen. 

Hub is your first and last security and experience control point. It’s where you provide single sign on access to all apps and content. It’s where you provide a Digital Assistant / Chatbot to enhance workforce productivity. Hub should provide a Remote Assistance capability which gives your Contact Center teams helping remote workers to see in real-time what the employee sees and talks them through challenges making them more efficient. Lastly, your Hub should include Notifications to alert users to workflows and actions they need to take and provide ways to tackle mundane, but required tasks, quickly and easily to get employees back to being creative. Humans are creative, some businesses forget this and those are the same businesses that lack innovation and ultimately lose customers and cease to exist.

Business Continuity is a Team Sport

When I talk about technology, organizations often think of IT. However, their employees expect HR to solve their employee experience challenges. They need HR to understand and be their advocate to drive change for their individual roles and jobs. They need HR teams to understand what it’s like to be each role within the company. It starts with Corporate Empathy and being a Servant Leader. The executives that understand they exist to better enable their employees to serve their customers see 4x the growth and profits vs. those who don’t.

Research conducted in partnership between VMware and Vanson Bourne shows that for digital transformation initiatives to work, HR and IT must collaborate as a team. In fact, the Employee Experience team needs to include Real Estate, Physical and Information Security, Legal and line of business members to really transform. R&D is no longer just a department. Innovation needs to be stitched into the very fabric that makes up the organization. Companies need to differentiate themselves to be successful. What do they do and why do they do it? Organizations need to empower, engage and inspire their employees toward a unified goal to achieve their “reason for being”.

Employees are ready now, are you?

What do you need to be successful remotely? Devices, network connectivity, access to apps and content? What about access to team members? Companywide sharing of information and building a culture for a unified goal.

How do you build a culture remotely? How can you assist employees when you aren’t able to look over their shoulder? How can you ensure they are working when you aren’t micromanaging them?

Business Continuance Includes EVERYBODY!

One thing I like to remind companies is that 80% of the global workforce is desk-less hourly. They can’t really work from home. Social distancing helps have fewer people in the streets or at the office but there still needs to be factory workers and truck drivers to make the world go around. It’s for this reason BC plans need to include helping desk-less workers be more efficient with their time. As companies move to a skeleton crew, they need automation that having Workspace ONE mobile flows and the AVA chatbot can bring. It also means Remote Assistance on the device is critical to have call center employees show a desk-less worker on their device in real-time how to leverage a new app or system.

Imagine being all alone and having the weight of being responsible for getting products and services to market or your colleagues might lose their jobs and your customers can’t get food, medicine or required services. That’s a lot of pressure! Good companies have a plan around systems, GREAT companies have plans focused on PEOPLE.

Workspace ONE experiences are created leveraging human-centered design. The team thinks holistically about the people the technology serves and how best to enable them and support them. We’ve “Software-Defined the Employee Experience (SDEX)”. By software defining the experience, we can quickly modify the experience as market demands change or as business needs to respond, react in real time to global regulatory and work style changes. The goal of our employee experience teams are to help your employees have brilliant experiences so that in times of prosperity your company maximizes its potential. Additionally, in times of hardship your employees are enabled with real time updates without delay so they can anticipate and provide customers with what they need when they need it.

Challenging times need us to challenge our legacy thinking and move to modern experience-led, more efficient business solutions now boldly and without hesitation.

 

What’s Next?

Each day over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a series of posts and resources around business continuity. We also hosted a business continuity webinar, Pandemic Preparedness and Response: How to Quickly Set Up a Remote Workforce for Success, that you can watch on-demand.

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