Wow! What a crazy year 2020 has been, and we are just now reaching the halfway point.
When we first started hearing about COVID-19, it seemed like something that could never directly impact us as it has. Pandemics are something that only happen in the movies, right? Well, apparently pandemics can happen, even here in Indiana, and boy are they disruptive.
It still doesn’t seem real that our economy base basically shut down, and in the middle of busy season. Who plans these things? And more importantly, who plans FOR these things? I can’t imagine most businesses that actually have disaster plans had really planned for something like this. It is unprecedented in our lifetimes to be told to stay home and shut down businesses to protect people from a virus.
Those who were lucky enough to be able to work from home and still earn a paycheck were fortunate, but not without problems, in many cases.
As businesses, we had to make quick decisions. How would we operate? How do we protect our employees? Is it safe to go to the office, and, if not, how do we make it safe? Can our staff effectively work from home? What about phones, what about mail? How will we meet with clients? If our staff can work from home, do they have the tools they need and access to all of their files and information?
There are so many technology tools available today, it can make your head spin. We are at a time where we can no longer ignore technology and say we’ll worry about it tomorrow. The firms and businesses who have proactively addressed technology have had a much easier time adapting to a sudden need to work from home or meet remotely with clients.
Now that our customers, clients and employees have seen what a positive difference technology can make, we can’t stand still—we must continue looking for ways to implement new technologies. They can save time and money in many situations. Granted, there are some start-up or implementation costs, but effective use of technology can have an extremely positive impact on business.
What can you do now? Depending on where you are with technology in your firm or business, it’s okay to start small. Look at things like Office 365 online. It would eliminate the need for an email server and give you ability to always be on the newest version of Microsoft office products like Excel and Word, and give you built-in cloud storage with One Drive. Within the Office 365 suite of products are many great add-ins like Microsoft Teams that would allow for collaboration and easy sharing of information with co-workers and with people outside your organization.
I would also recommend talking to your staff about what their pain points are. It makes it easier to look for solutions once you have a better idea of what people are struggling with or where they feel like efficiencies could be gained. Also, if you have a staff member who seems really interested in technology, consider allowing them to be your technology ambassador and let that person spend some time doing research and then presenting ideas along with the business case of how those solutions could benefit your company. Employee buy-in will be huge in making technology changes successful.
Additionally, talk to your peers to see what technology solutions they are using. Peers are one of the best resources for information on technology. They are not trying to sell you something, so they are willing to tell you the good and the bad about different solutions so you can make an informed decision.