WFH Series: 2020 is the Best Year of Innovation Yet.

Posted by: Stephanie Donahue on May 4,2020

NASCAR Innovation in COVIDI’m sitting here this weekend, watching virtual NASCAR.  First of all, please understand that we are not a NASCAR family, we are a sports family (football, basketball, lacrosse…doesn’t matter). However, it’s been weeks since live sports have been available on tv and so here we are.  My teenage boys are marveling at how cool the virtual NASCAR race is – you can see them race, much like you would watch a video game. They still wreck and have issues, so it’s pretty realistic to watch AND you’re getting the behind the scenes. You get to hear every word they say and let me tell you, their driving setup is pretty darn cool, it looks like the inside of their real car.  Typically, you can’t really see the drivers and their intense focus hidden inside their helmets, so that has also added a whole new element to the race too!

Why talk about virtual NASCAR? This is an organization that has very quickly made it work – they still have sponsorship, they’re still getting paid, and we’re still being entertained (and somewhere….their families are the happiest people on the planet given how safe this option is!)  Life has given them lemons and they’ve made lemonade. They are keeping interest in the sport and they are moving things forward as many other entertainment organizations sit and wait for things to open back up.

What about YOUR Organization?

Workplace InnovationSo, let’s talk about you and your organization for a minute.  Are you a leader in your organization?  What have you done lately to push things forward?  As someone who deploys remote-work tools for organizations, I can see a stark difference in those that are functioning well and those that are struggling right now as we wait for permission to leave our homes. 

  • Are you fighting VPN issues?
  • Do you have employees that take 15 minutes to join a basic conference call because they don’t know what they are doing? 
  • Is your IT focused on moving your organization forward or are they fighting fires trying to nurse 15 year old technology along?
  • Have you deployed remote-work tools like Microsoft Teams? 

It’s been really interesting to watch who is still moving forward on their projects with us. I can tell you the industry as a whole has seen a dramatic drop in “net new” business and a steady flow of new business from their existing customers.  Why is that?  Those that have already deployed remote work technology and cloud technologies in their organization already “get it”.  They have realized that remote work is how things are going to get done and they’ve leaned HARD into doing it even better. They aren’t just chatting and exchanging files in Microsoft Teams, but they are running projects, creating forms, and updating business process so that they can be fully functional online.  And everyone else?  Well, if you’re sitting there hoping you’ll be allowed to use the fax machine at the office, you’re going to behind by the end of all of this.

But…my employees won’t use it

We hear this all the time. There’s a fear that your employees won’t be savvy enough to use the technology if you roll it out.  You’ve seen it before with other software roll-outs right? I have two things to say to that

  • There’s no time like the present – people are far more open to trying new things right now. They have an understanding that working is different for the time being and they’ll have to pick up some new skills to keep things moving. What you may not realize is that they’ve already picked up some cloud-based tools to help with this work from home transition – are you sure you have control over the software they are using right now?

  • Training and support! You can still do virtual training – supporting your employees during a roll-out of new technology is so important and often overlooked. It’s as critical now as it’s ever been. Try to make it fun! (See our Joy of SharePoint webinar for fun tips and tricks to make the transition easier)

I promise you they can figure it out. We’ve seen world-wide companies completely transform their way of working. They’ve come from legacy intranets, sometimes no intranet at all, messy file shares, documents on the local desktop, users that have been with the organization and “done it their way” for 20 years.  You think you’re different… I think you’d be surprised how often we hear the same things over and over. You know what the difference is?  The leadership team that decides to move them forward.

Moving Forward Faster

Here’s the thing – it’s not JUST about the next few months.  It’s about what happens after life goes back to normal.  While you might end up relieved that you can be back in your office, sending your faxes and printing out your paperwork, others have seen a dramatic transformation.  They’ve enabled their employees to work anywhere on any device.  They’ve improved their processes to work faster and more efficiently.  They have taken a massive leap forward and will continue to make leaps now that they have the ball rolling.  

  • Implementing eSignature decreases the amount of time to receive a signature by a week or more – no more waiting until someone is back at the office to sign and copy a contract.

  • Implementing a basic electronic form and routing it online for approvals decreases approval times by weeks and increase visibility on where things are getting stuck.

  • Deploying remote work tools to your cell phone may dramatically decrease response times because you can quickly access people, files, chat, and focused content – all things that are far more difficult to do in a sea of emails in your inbox.

It doesn’t take much to get that ball rolling forward in an effort to make a significant impact. If you’re competitor had already started doing these basic steps a while ago and now they are leaning into things even more – where do you think they’re going to be when things go back to normal? They’re going to be ahead of the game compared to everyone else.

Where do you want to be?

Where do you want to be?So, what’s it going to be for your organization?  Are you going to sit on the sidelines and wait this out?  Or are you going to make it YOUR year of innovation? We all know things are difficult, budgets are tight, and there’s a big learning curve ahead – but where do YOU want to be in a year or two when we all move forward?  What do you think your competitors are doing?  I guarantee that many of them are making the leap to using tools like Microsoft 365.  It’s a matter of deciding where your priorities are for the future.  You can sit and wait, or you can do something about it.

This pandemic might be a tragedy for many, but it’s also a period of some of the best innovation we’ve seen in a long time. It’s a time for learning, for thinking, and for being creative to make up for what we’re missing. It’s time to step up to the challenge and to innovate your business into the next decade. If you aren’t on board, you might just find your business left in the dust of your own race.

Topics: Microsoft Teams, Intelligent Workplace, Digital Transformation, Planning, WFH

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