Over the course of 2020, many businesses have moved and shifted their workforce to work-from-home positions. Per CoVID-19 many businesses have not had a choice due to regulations imposed by local government. As this shift has occurred, many positives have been gleaned from the experience. Perhaps the number one benefit is the reduction of overhead. Electricity, utilities, office space, time management—all of these areas have seen savings. Of course, working from home has posed some new challenges. Just as time management can be seen as a positive, it can also be seen as a negative. Not everyone does well working from home and staying on task can be a challenge. Additionally, we lose face-to-face interaction. Yes, Zoom, Facetime, and Teams all provide great opportunities to connect when the world is social distancing itself, however, it is not the same as the tangible energy in a room filled with people. Furthermore, companies have had to tighten their enterprise resource planning, distribution management, technology distribution, and software solutions, while still maintaining this work-from-home structure. How do we continue to run our business effectively, while also protecting our information and our products from the outside? Let’s delve into these a bit more.
Enterprise Resource Planning
Enterprise Resource Planning, aka ERP, is a type of business management software. Essentially, any corporation must collect, store, manage, and interpret data from its various activities. This becomes a bit more difficult when everyone is working from home. Plans are going to need to be put into place. What centralized system will be used to log in each day? Will it be a VPN or something like HorizonView or Silo? There are many different cloud-based browsers and networks that offer encryptions and secure logins so that people can begin working and sharing the necessary data. Then, from there, companies should have some sort of storage and data management system. That part has not changed so much with working from home, like the sharing and storing over a secured network has been impacted.
How do we optimize our resources and make sure that we have the proper workflows, especially now that on-hand warehouse staff is at a minimum? Do we have a decision support system in place that is going to help us and that can be effective through this distant working? Essentially our distribution management is an operational plan. One clear example is open enrollment. Think about every company’s benefits. We all know that benefits have to be chosen by the end of November (if on a traditional calendar year) and many companies host events such as benefit fairs, where vendors come in and attend. They bring goodies for the employees and they share the details. Now that people cannot mingle in large groups, that poses some problems. Companies are hosting virtual fairs. They’re hosting virtual help sessions and that brings up several different steps that require thought as to how they’re going to distribute the information and help their people. Distribution management has been greatly impacted by this virus. Companies have to be very detail-minded and organized with the distribution of their products.
Technology distribution has also been impacted. Companies are having to create sites where clients and employees can download the necessary information. This isn’t a big deal when we consider a global economy. Businesses have been interacting with clients around the globe, so many of these distributions are already in place. However, if a company hand-delivered to local clients or even its employees, that may no longer be viable. IT groups need to be able to set customers and employees up remotely and teach people to fish if possible.
How do we integrate platforms and share information amongst ourselves and amongst our clients? How do we protect that data and what happens when problems arise? CoVID has been a wake-up call for some businesses because they’ve realized that they don’t have secure enough software. They’ve had to acquire software solutions to beef up what they have and improve/protect that data and information. Especially in the medical industry and some of these industries where Personal Health Information (PHI) is being stored or shared this becomes imperative. IT groups have to be savvy with remoting into clients’ computers and their employees. Many businesses are turning to software solution companies that have software built with these capabilities.
We’re all learning with the pandemic. Working from home has many extraordinary benefits. However, it also poses many new issues. It’s definitely forcing companies to be more organized in their planning, to provide solutions and security that is top-notch. The amazing thing is that as companies are figuring out this new world, many are committed to not going back to old ways. Many of us will remain remote from here on out. Cheers to working from home!