WFH is here to stay, it seems: how resilient are your employees’ home offices?
The pandemic forced a rapid change in working styles as millions of employees were forced out of offices to work from home (WFH). Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, a top-end US head hunter, calls it the “biggest societal change in America since World War II.1 IT teams performed miracles, and somehow even call centres, typically using teams located in specialised locations, began to operate in this distributed model.
Everybody was sympathetic, and customers were quick to forgive their service providers for the inevitable service lapses. For a while, a kind of “blitz spirit” prevailed, a sense that we were all in this together.
No longer. Some semblance of normality is returning, and people are returning to work. More importantly, your customers will no longer be cutting you any slack. If service is poor, you will lose them.
However, there’s little doubt that the improved productivity and greater freedom employees enjoyed over this period means that most companies will adopt some sort of hybrid work policy. The details of each WFH policy will vary from company to company, but the key point is whether any WFH resources you might have are fully empowered to deliver the right levels of service to customers going forward.
There are many angles to this, including cybersecurity, but the one I’m specifically calling out is resilience. Most corporate business continuity plans deal only with the risks that could impact office-bound workers, and how to mitigate them. But if a significant proportion of the workforce could be working from home at any given time, that effectively means that those employees’ homes are a “branch” of the company, and thus need to have some level of resilience.
In the context of South Africa 2022, the most significant risk that a home-based employee faces is, of course, load shedding. It is thus vital that employees working from home have backup power in place; connectivity is an issue as well because power outages can bring down routers as well. It’s a sad truth that, in my experience at least, companies have put solutions in place for executives, but ordinary employees are typically left to fend for themselves—even though any shortcomings in their arrangements will directly impact the company’s reputation negatively.
One can see that there is a need out there by the way in which Internet service providers and telecommunications suppliers are adding options for batteries and inverters to their contracts. We have even begun to see more elegant and sophisticated “all in one” solutions, but will organisations set aside the budget to provide them to employees?
Companies need to update their business continuity plans urgently to ensure that employees working from home can continue to deliver the right levels of customer service when the lights go out.
As they will, time and again!
1 “25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by end of next year” (7 December 2021), available at https://www.theladders.com/press/25-of-all-professional-jobs-in-north-america-will-be-remote-by-end-of-next-year.