The past 18 months have seen businesses around the world grapple with unprecedented changes.
And yet, despite these disruptions, staff who once endured long commutes have been able to strip away distractions and work comfortably and productively from home.
In Australia, the mass adoption of remote working saw companies increase investment in tools and technologies that facilitate remote working without sacrificing productivity or workplace efficiencies. However, remote working isn’t the only positive outcome of a lockdown-riddled world. The changes that companies have implemented run deeper than technology deployments, and there are a number of cultural changes—such as an increased focus on mental health or social responsibility—that businesses should maintain.
Moving into a new financial year, there are a number of processes born from the pandemic to consider implementing across the entire business more permanently.
- Champion hybrid working
With the immediate threat of infection becoming less of a concern for businesses and individuals, more organisations will look to implement a hybrid approach to office hours, where employees work in the office on occasion, but maintain the flexibility to work remotely as desired.
- Reiterate the focus on mental wellbeing
These hybrid working environments have an added benefit of improving mental wellbeing in the workplace, alleviating feelings of isolation that complete remote working can bring, while also acknowledging employees' commitments outside the workplace.
- Invest in collaboration and communication
The continued investment in collaborative and communicative technologies lets business leaders enhance communication among their workforces, no matter where they are based. Video communication platforms and digital workspaces like Microsoft Teams have been instrumental in fostering remote workplace collaboration.
- Continue to prioritise security and safety
With workplaces becoming less structured, having a clear understanding of who is onsite at any given time is crucial for businesses to manage the security, health, and safety of all on site. The implementation of digital visitor management systems that capture and store relevant information to a secure database has already proven fruitful in enhancing security processes and helping with contact tracing if needed.
- See the value in mixed communication channels
Despite the digital boom experienced by businesses throughout the pandemic, the importance of traditional communications such as direct mail shouldn’t be underestimated. For example, research by Accenture has shown that 81 per cent of Australians open and read their mail immediately and it is perceived more credible than email (34 per cent compared to 26 per cent). Businesses should consider the marriage of digital and traditional media and invest in technology solutions that automate their mailing processes for easy integration across different channels.
Moreover, as staff return to the office, investing in cloud-based solutions that leverage package receiving and tracking information can help reception and admin teams safely and effectively manage inbound parcels, resulting in increased productivity and reduce delivery errors.
- Find the right cloud-based solution for the business
Cloud-based software has become a key cornerstone for a functional and flexible working environment. Solutions range from collaborative tools and technologies, like video conferencing and digital workspaces, to streamlined parcel shipping and receiving solutions that let employees manage business mailing requirements regardless of if they’re working from home or in the office. Cloud-based software lets businesses scale and adapt, not just to remote working, but to overall growth moving forward. These cloud-based tools empower employees to be productive and collaborative from anywhere at any time.
- Embrace business automation for greater efficiencies
With the era of digital transformation here, automating business processes are critical regardless of industry. Adding automation to business processes will help eliminate human error, reduce potential risk, improve the customer experience, help a business comply with changing regulations, ensure data accuracy, improve productivity, and save time and, ultimately, money.
Researching cloud-based solutions that manage end-to-end mailing workflow, printing and distribution systems, or document management systems for instance can let business owners focus on the business, thereby increasing productivity and making it easier to identify future growth opportunities.
- Take advantage of renewed government support
The new financial year also presents an opportunity to leverage government support, particularly after the continued impact of COVID-19. The Australian government’s $1.2 billion digital economy strategy announced as part of the federal budget includes several spending measures, most of which will benefit the SME and tech communities. By leveraging new technologies and government support, SMEs can streamline their business practices and better position themselves for a successful new financial year.
- Commit to ongoing purpose and action
The events of 2020 have most notably demonstrated the value and importance of global and local communities. Organisations have become united in their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs as they aim to rebuild their local communities.
People are more likely to trust brands that don’t put profit first. Research demonstrates that Australians put more trust in businesses that provided support to people during the pandemic. It’s essential that companies learn from this and continue to live the values and purpose they promote in an authentic way.
Stephen Darracott is vice president and country manager of Pitney Bowes Japan, Australia and New Zealand.