We’re all waiting to hear how the government plans to lead us out of lockdown and get life back to normal, but it’s already clear that businesses can expect major changes in the way they operate in the months, and even years, ahead.

This means you’ll need to have the agility to quickly adopt new working practices in the office to maintain social distancing requirements, adjust to the differing expectations of customers, and prepare for any future restrictions.

Reacting to an evolving workplace

There have already been a few suggestions as to the type of working conditions we may see as a result of the lockdown. For example, the signs are that a more flexible environment that encourages home working will be a key part of many firms’ strategies going forward.

But even when people do come into the workplace, they’re likely to find a much-changed environment. The days of the open-plan workspace where people work in close proximity may be over, which means firms will have to rethink how their teams communicate and collaborate.

For instance, it may be necessary to significantly reduce the number of workstations in use at any one time to comply with social distancing guidance. This means potentially running a rota system where employees are split into different teams that come into the office on alternate days, as well as staggering breaks to prevent people gathering in large groups.

To cope with this, it will be vital firms have the right tools and technologies in place. Unified communications solutions, for example, will be essential in coping with a mixed environment where people in the office and those at home need to collaborate.

It’s also essential that workers are able to pick up from exactly where they left off if they are frequently moving between home and remote working. Cloud tools that allow key applications and data to be easily and securely accessed from anywhere will therefore also be in high demand.

Adapting to a more digital world

However, it won’t just be office-based staff who have to adapt their routines and move to new ways of operating. Customers too are likely to change how they shop as a result of social distancing rules, as well as retaining new habits they may have picked up during lockdown.

This means there’s likely to be a much stronger emphasis on digital channels in the coming years, for selling, customer service and events. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure you have robust solutions to handle any increase in activity.

For example, a phone system that can be easily scaled up as demand rises will be a must, while features such as easy redirecting of calls to support remote workers will be key. Upgrading other options like live chat and ensuring contact centre staff have easy access to key applications such as CRM systems to better serve consumers over the phone or online is also vital.

Current solutions that aren’t able to easily add new features or users as demand for digital services grows may, therefore, need to be replaced if businesses are to keep up with the evolving needs of both employees and customers in this new environment. While the future remains uncertain, acting now to deploy the right tools means you’ll be well-placed to cope with whatever the coming months look like.

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