2020-09-01

Settling into the New Normal

Andrew Gericke, Managing Director at AG Computer Accounting

After 30 years in the industry who would have expected that the business world as we know would be thrust into such unchartered territory as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the space of a few days at the end of March 2020, employees had to make space for and work out how they would work from home, their spouses or partners work day, children and home schooling and even the family dog barking all suddenly had to be factored in to the work day. Employers had to suddenly provide an infrastructure they had never before thought of as necessary beyond a few executive work-a-holics, and had to equip their teams with laptops, VoIP phones or softphones, webcams and headsets for Zoom meetings. The technology world as we knew it got turned on it’s head in the three days after President Ramaphosa announced a lockdown that would commence at midnight Thursday 26 March. I myself remember racing around buying and dropping off headsets for Zoom meetings with my own team right up to the last few hours on that Thursday.

What was to be 21 days of lockdown has turned into a new way of living and working and I dare say most of us have become rather adept at scheduling and jumping from one Zoom meeting to another, answering our phone extensions as if we were in the office while at the same time screaming at the dog to stop barking (at least that’s how it goes in my house).

However, one thing that has and continues to surprise me is that almost everyone I have spoken to over the past few months has without hesitation told me how much more productive and efficient they are while working from home, this despite the home schooling and the family dog.

I suppose, thinking about it, the obvious one is the saving on travel time, no more unproductive time sitting in traffic driving and watching your stress levels rocket on your fitness band. Then there are the inevitable interruptions, be it watercooler chats about the weekend, or just general interruptions from colleagues who now have learnt to “work it out” themselves.

So, level two of lockdown means most of us can return to our offices, but will we ever? Has WFH become the new norm given some of the advantages both employees and employers have experienced in the last several months?

I honestly think there has to be a balance, that the days of every employee having a fixed desk and working in a typical office building from 9 to 5 are over. Will businesses downscale their office space - yes. Will employees work from home some days and from the office other days - yes. Will technologies like Virtual Private Servers, Zoom Video Conferencing and VoIP softphones continue to grow - absolutely.

As humans have an amazing ability to adapt, and 2020 is certainly proving that.

Now, I am late for my next Zoom meeting, but if you have any questions on WFH technologies like Virtual Private Servers, Video Conferencing solutions or VoIP phone systems with home extensions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on andrew@agca.co.za.

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