While COVID-19 continues to reshape society, how we work, and socialize, we pause to look back on what has changed and what we might expect going forward.
This blog post may be entirely premature. With cases still on the rise in various parts of the world, COVID-19 continues to have a grip on the world. However, in California, there has been improvement in the COVID-19 numbers, and we have seen many businesses reopen with lesser restrictions. So, we have to ask the question, what have we learned over the past year and will the changes we made since March 2020 have a lasting impact?
Kiefer Consulting has been supporting both the private and public sector since we opened our doors in 1988. Traditionally speaking, we would support clients using a hybrid model that allowed us to work both off-site and on-site. It was common to have a team of Kiefer employees in our Folsom office, working on client deliverables, collaborating, and even meeting with clients at our location. The energy in our office was great. We have a snack cabinet, coffee, soft drinks, and would frequently celebrate new contracts with huge platters of tacos from Angel’s Kitchen.
In March, that changed. Many of our customers looked to Kiefer to help them figure out how best to support them using collaboration and communication tools that would enable remote work. Many of our customers are state and local government clients that are essential workers and would work right through the pandemic and not miss a beat.
We had to be flexible, creative, and highly coordinated in our delivery. And we were. We demonstrated that the tools that we’ve promoted over the last 20 years were the right tools to enable remote work and that organizations could quickly with the thoughtful deployment of these tools. We picked up several remote clients (Illinois, New Jersey, Washington), and realized that the demand for our team to be on-site had become less important. This was a reality that was only realized when our team being on site was simply not an option.
We saw that our team found ways to stay connected amid the significant changes that prohibited us from working alongside one another. We began to coordinate virtual get togethers and happy hours via Microsoft Teams. We came up with games like Pictionary, Family Feud, the Match Game, and Bingo to play on Microsoft Teams.
But, it wasn’t all fun and games. Our team proved that remote project delivery using tools like Microsoft Teams and SharePoint was possible. We even made believers out of clients that had in the past insisted on an on-site delivery model.
We also found ways to keep our team informed using tech briefings and the Kiefer intranet. These tools help to ensure team members know where to go for information and expertise.
One thing that has changed over this past year is attitudes about traditional workstyles. Microsoft even went on record expressing a desire to offer employees more flexibility.
On October 9, 2020, Microsoft announced that they have issued new guidance for remote work. Microsoft has garnered a great deal of attention by going on record and stating that they want to offer employees “work schedule flexibility,” giving employees more freedom to choose the days and hours they choose to work. In addition, employees can choose when to start and end their workday.
This statement is a direct result of what Microsoft learned during COVID. A culture shift.
We at Kiefer have always tried to respect the work-like balance. Our company was even recognized as a finalist by the Sacramento Business Journal as one of the best places to work in the Sacramento region. During COVID, we did an outstanding job of supporting clients without interruption, while still recognizing that the pandemic was a challenging time for families that or individuals that are caregivers. We learned that flexibility was important to our success over the past year.
The future is unwritten, however, there are some things we did learn over the last year that we will carry with us for a long time. We will leverage what we’ve learned during these challenging times to better serve our employees, clients, and partners.
If you’d like to learn more about how the indispensable tools of the modern workplace, download our free eBook. And, if you’d like to better leverage the tools of Microsoft 365 to support a distributed and remote workforce, give us a call. We can connect you with our team of experts!