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How to succeed in the "new normal" from leaders in tech

As coronavirus rippled across the world, businesses transformed the way they operate. Many organisations started remote working models, which are now here to say. While other companies allowed managers to give their staff more flexibility. Some businesses even learned of employees’ secret skills.

As businesses prepare to plan for the new normal, here are some insights from leading technology leaders on how to build agile, resilient and diverse teams.

Joshua Zerkel, Certified Professional Organizer and Head of Global Engagement Marketing, Asana: “I’ve recently read a quote that really resonated with me, saying that work is so omnipresent, it can feel like you’re not working from home, but instead that you are living at work. With the lines between home and work life becoming increasingly blurred, it’s critical that you are able to separate the two. As businesses seek to establish a work environment that supports employees whether they’re in the office or working from home, take the time to review how you keep your team connected and aligned. Doing so is critical to employee engagement, retention, and business success.

Create a supportive company culture that encourages both you and your team to take the time to switch off in the evenings and on weekends. This is beneficial to both your mental health and your work - use that time to recharge and relax with loved ones. Establish a safe environment where those tackling child or dependent care alongside balancing their work can share their concerns around how this is impacting them, and work with them to create solutions together. With a supportive company culture, employees are empowered to thrive.

Alongside company culture, businesses looking to define the new working normal of distributed teams need to provide clear goals for individuals, teams and the company as a whole. By providing this clarity across the organisation, everyone is able to understand how their work ladders up to company-wide goals, thus providing purpose and direction in their work. Now is the time for business leaders to establish the best methods for supporting employee engagement and business success - be sure to make these changes or risk being left behind in the new world of work.“

Benji Vaughan, Founder and CEO, Disciple: “While some businesses might see the current period as the time to reduce and streamline ahead of what has the potential to be a long winter, I don’t agree. Rather, brands should see these uncertain times as an opportunity to focus on building deeper connections with their core audience . At a time when in-person experiences are limited, maintaining and growing affinity with audiences digitally is more important than ever.

Connecting to users and customers in the right way is vital to future business success. We’ve all seen during the pandemic that the most successful brands were the ones invested into nurturing a sense of community with their customers.

To do this, they must look back to the essence of what captured the interest of their customers to begin with. With shared passion at the core of building meaningful online communities, brands need to capture this high affinity, positive brand-user culture to unlock the full value of their members with increased engagement and ownership.“

Tanzil Bukhari, Managing Director EMEA, DoubleVerify: “The pandemic has altered our behaviours in many ways - and how we are engaging with online content is no exception. This year COVID-19 has been at the forefront of complex and rapid international news cycles with fake news and inflammatory content levels also on the rise. Our new study ‘Four fundamental shifts in media & advertising during 2020’ with more than 10,000 consumers globally, found that the daily time spent consuming content has doubled globally since the start of the pandemic, from an average of 3 hours 17 minutes to an average of 6 hours 59 minutes.

In this context, ad opportunities are opening up but brand suitability is essential as over two thirds (69%) are more likely to look at an ad that is relevant to the content they are viewing. But, it’s not just about relevance and suitability. As we find ourselves in an increasingly complex digital world, businesses and their marketing teams must also ensure they are engaging consumers in a safe and compliant way. Investing in the right technologies - such as AI powered solutions - can help navigate the new normal to protect brand reputation and power performance, while complying with consumer privacy demands.“

John Morrison, SVP of Sales, International Markets, Extreme Networks: “There is still a level of uncertainty on what the future will look like and where businesses should best invest to future-proof themselves. But, one thing is clear and it is that long-term business success requires new levels of organisational agility, flexibility and security. So, how can businesses achieve this? It all boils down to their network, which is the backbone of all business operations.

If we’ve learned anything from the last year, it’s that not all networks can be infallible. It is crucial to bear in mind that the strain put on a network - from the number of devices to the amount of people using it - can have a detrimental impact on its performance and can result in teams being unable to work productively. As hybrid working will likely become more popular and businesses may find a greater need to use connected devices across various locations in their daily work, modern networks need to be able to support the changing and sometimes challenging connectivity demands of a distributed workforce.

The first question organisations need to ask themselves isn’t what technologies they should invest in but, rather, whether they have the right network infrastructure in place to begin with. The key to meeting the connectivity demands of modern organisations is the cloud. Compared to wired and wireless solutions, cloud-based networking solutions centralise everything into a single, secure, reliable and agile hub. These solutions also channel advanced technologies including machine learning and AI which can automate routine and monotonous tasks so that workers can spend time on higher-level projects that require greater intelligence, creativity and decision-making.“

Sacha Michaud, Co-founder, Glovo: “For business leaders in the “new normal”, flexibility and safety for workers should be front of mind. From the normalisation of virtual onboarding to the innovative use of technology to support remote work, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how we work in the future.

One such transformation has been the increased number of people turning to gig working. The flexibility provided by the gig economy should be taken into consideration by all business leaders moving forwards, whether it’s moving away from rigid working hours, or giving teams new responsibilities. While it has always been important, the ability to be agile will now be vital for business survival in the post-pandemic era.

Dr Tim Guilliams, Co-Founder and CEO, Healx: “As a tech company, we were able to transition to full remote working with relative ease back in March. With a solid foundation of supporting remote workers prior to the pandemic, and with established working practices of running meetings and projects with a hybrid workforce, we certainly felt some of the workplace challenges less acutely than others.

Amidst our existing practices, we recognise the benefits of investing deeply in our internal communications channels to ensure that information flow and cross-functional discussion remains high. Connecting teams and supporting collaboration across the company, no matter where everyone is located, is vital to success. Simple practices we have employed to support this include; moving to a weekly all-team meeting, utilising Slack extensions like ‘Donut’ to recreate those ‘water cooler’ chats, creating a ‘common language’ using semantic emojis on Slack, implementing regular well-being check-ins, and building in more contact time between leaders and teams across the organisation. All of these initiatives help to keep the Healx culture alive.

In tandem, continuing to expand and build your team has never been more important. For us at Healx, we were conscious to widen our recruitment beyond Cambridge, recognising that, for many, remote working is an option they now expect from their employers. As we continue to grow our team of experts, we’re implementing new onboarding and development programmes to remain ahead of the curve in this ‘new normal’. So be sure to not fall behind, invest in communication tools and practices to support your organisation’s growth.“

Sergei Anikin, CTO, Pipedrive: “One of the key struggles of the “new normal” (and 2020 more generally) is its unpredictable nature. This year has made working as a team more challenging - whether it’s the rapid shift to remote work, or having to make difficult business decisions in the face of change. But the fact is that this year will continue to be unpredictable. The best thing teams can do now to navigate this is to practice transparency - be that in everyday work or while discussing long-term business plans. This is not the time to make decisions behind closed doors or try to tackle problems in siloed teams. Business leaders must come to terms with and accept that many things are beyond their control - and offset this by taking full ownership of the aspects of their business that they do have a handle on.

Business leaders should also improve their ability to overcome change through agile reconstruction. 2020 has taught us the value of flexibility in periods of hardship - this is sure to remain a core for a long time to come. The new normal may be a daunting prospect for some, but by adopting a fresh perspective and leveraging new technologies, businesses can use this opportunity to not only survive, but thrive under unfamiliar circumstances. Now is the time to rethink old habits, welcome change, and reap the benefits of a reset to the way we work.“

Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor, Director UK&I, Procore: “Amidst the pandemic, technology has been instrumental in enabling businesses and individuals to continue with “business as usual” in both their home and working life. We’ve found that one notable industry increasingly realising the benefits of digitalisation is construction. With its work being conducted predominantly on site - and therefore face-to-face - construction is a sector which has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. So how can businesses take learnings from this industry and apply it to their own?

It’s all about adopting the right technology. Given the nature of construction being on site, but lockdown restricting any contact, digitalisation has become a necessity to maintain connection and safety amongst teams. Connecting business applications and storing relevant information all in one place, platform technology has offered a beacon of hope for many as it allows applications and tech tools to talk to each other. This means that everyone - whether they are on or off site - can have access to a single source of truth.

As companies look to support distributed working with teams increasingly being based across office and home environments, leaders must take on a similar approach to seek out technology which doesn’t silo information but encourage transparency. This will be absolutely critical to how we all work in the future.“

As organisations continue to navigate through the pandemic, adapting to new unprecedented challenges that may arise, they need to ensure the right technologies and business strategies are in place. Only then, will they achieve business resilience.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Technology Experts .

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