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Second Coronavirus Wave & The Realities Of A Remote Workforce

Even though NOLA entered Phase II business reopening on June 13, flare-ups persist, largely due to crowding in specific industries. Already, local and regional organizations are weighing concerns based on emerging data and the potential decisions made by city officials.

Does Your New Orleans Organization Possess Managed IT Solutions to Handle A Second Wave of COVID-19

It wasn’t long ago that those at the younger end of the workforce were excitedly talking about work-from-anywhere as the “New Normal.” That trendy term has lost its flavor since the pandemic shuttered workspaces and even favorite offsite locations. New Orleans ranks among the hardest hit by COVID-19, and business decision-makers face uncertainty about critical next steps.

Even though NOLA entered Phase II business reopening on June 13, flare-ups persist, largely due to crowding in specific industries. Already, local and regional organizations are weighing concerns based on emerging data and the potential decisions made by city officials.

“Moving into Phase Two, we were very much focused on our economy and those industries that make up that community. Unfortunately, we have seen the negative impact that has had on the City of New Orleans,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell reportedly said. “What happens next depends on what we do right now.”

That welcome so-called New Normal may not be occurring in popular coffee shops or on park benches anytime soon. The reality of business success could be a matter of bracing for a potential Second Wave of coronavirus in the fall and shoring up the remote infrastructure for work-from-home productivity immediately.

Coronavirus Second Wave

Should Business Leaders Assume A Second Wave?

In many ways, the mayor’s words are prophetic for New Orleans business leaders. What you do “right now” will determine the success or failure of your fourth-quarter earnings. The decisions appear to be directed at local and state health officials providing enough insight to suppress the spread. However, the hard data points to precisely the opposite.

Louisiana has added more than 10,000 positive tests during the 4-5 weeks after entering the Phase II reopening. Industry leaders would be well-served to consider the following questions before placing their fall bets.

  • How Would a Second Wave Impact School Attendance?
  • How Will a Surge Impact My Employees’ Ability to Commute?
  • Is a Remote Workforce Sustainable?
  • What Next Steps Make Sense for My Organization?

Given the emerging pandemic data and current state of New Orleans social distancing, mask requirements, and restrictions on gatherings, it seems wise to err on the side of caution. A second wave would result in school-aged children continuing remote learning, and that upends the ability of parents to commute to your workspace.

While a COVID-19 vaccine may very well be available come fall, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other industry leaders didn’t garner success by playing roulette. That’s largely why a recent survey of 100 top executives points to remote infrastructure prioritization. According to the report, 30 percent of organizations plan to shift entirely to Cloud-based systems, and 18 percent have already transitioned.

Although others are keeping one-foot onsite and the other in remote capabilities, 57 percent plan to invest in additional Cloud-based infrastructure going forward. Another 22 percent are still unsure about next steps. Fact-based decision-making calls for increased reliance on remote infrastructure.

Challenges of a Remote Workforce

Traditional 9-to-5 operations may have experienced something of a culture shock as shelter-in-place mandates forced team members to do business remotely. For organizations that were ill-prepared, i.e., most companies, routine workflows were probably disrupted. These are common obstacles that managers confronted when overseeing newly-minted remote workforces.

  • Managing Projects to Completion
  • Collaborating on Tasks Remotely
  • Tracking Workhours & Individual Productivity
  • Maintaining Real-Time Communication
  • Conducting Transactions Remotely

Traditional operations that consider the in-person experience a high value will likely go through an awkward period. Gauging the enthusiasm and commitment of employees and clients may not necessarily be a matter of reading telltale physical signs. Fortunately, wide-reaching managed IT solutions exist to maintain a productive remote workforce indefinitely.

Managed IT Solutions to Negotiate a Second Wave

Pivoting to offsite productivity may have occurred out of pure necessity for many New Orleans organizations, but permanent offsite workforces were inevitable. Over the last 10 years, work-from-anywhere flexibility increased by 91 percent and 44 percent since 2015, according to online employment giant Flex Jobs.

Cloud-based connectivity and next-generation software solutions have made it increasingly possible to conduct tasks online. These are platforms that can adapt your remote workforce and resolve many of the perceived offsite challenging traditional businesses face.

  • Project Management: Microsoft Office 365 ranks among the world leaders in business software solutions. Its Microsoft Teams package allows managers to engage employees and stakeholders to collaborate and share files in real-time. Supervisors have the ability to check progress, request updates, and provide direction.
  • Tracking Workhours: Knowing that an organization is getting a fair day’s work for its employee investment is a real concern. A certain percentage of workers simply require monitoring to stay on task. Innovative remote work platforms are available that track time spent on company projects, note platform inactivity, and can even tell when someone is surfing YouTube and billing you for it. This type of automated oversight has never made a supervisor’s job easier.
  • Communication: Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, and many others provide real-time access to employees and colleagues any time and from any location. These products can include an entire workforce on a scheduled conference call with no one having to commute. Such communication solutions can be used on ordinary cell phones, laptops, and other standard devices.
  • Conducting Business: Leaders in the professional services industries typically have concerns about signature certifications and shuffling sensitive documents over the internet. The ESIGN Act of 2000 made electronic signatures a legally-approved process. In terms of security, it’s essential to equip your remote workforce with the ability to encrypt electronic document transfers so that only authorized people can read them.

What we are experiencing is anything but a so-called “New Normal.” Common sense dictates that the New Orleans business community stand at least ready to handle a potential second wave of the coronavirus. As a thought leader in your industry, you may be better served to take this opportunity to build a remote infrastructure that can withstand the next disruption. By leveraging managed IT solutions right now, your organization has the productivity protection it needs.

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