Thursday, 12 March 2020

The Kids Are Alright

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy
or LinkedIn here

If the scientists are to be believed, in the current Corona Virus / Covid-19, the kids will be alright, its just us of working (and retiring) age, who have to be concerned.

To follow the press, we could be heading into a mass human extinction event (possibly of the climate change deniers🤔).

Every client I am working with currently seems to be having meetings, dusting off the ‘Business Continuity Plans’ and trying to plan for a bit of an uncertain six months or so. Some are doing real-time, real-life simulations of working securely from home. Many are definitely filling offices with max strength hand sanitizers and not filling them with lots of strange visitors.

On this blog I have written a few times over the years about how flexible working from home and away from the office, these days is mainstream, not the exception. The days of managers assessing success of staff dealing with workload, by the assurance of seeing their bums on seats through core or working hours, are surely now over.

In the last week or so in the UK, many have discovered the following three things to be true:
  • The job you were told couldn’t be done remotely, often can
  • Many disabled workers could have been doing more working from home and many always could have
  • Decent speed internet access, is not a luxury, it’s an essential utility

One view from JHB, recalling
her lazy typing pool days
Laggards, directors, managers who have deliberately dragged their feet about giving staff flexible tech and building a culture around flexible and agile working, are now starting to feel the pinch.

I understand the security concerns, many of which have in the past (quite rightly in some situations), have been cited as ‘why it cannot be done here’. In truth though, the technology exists and is not quite as expensive as it once was, to provide secure two factor authentication, ability for staff to use their own tablets etc, securely with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution. Telephony allows way more flexibility than in the past, facetime, Skype, teleconferencing is enabled by pretty much all our everyday tablets and smartphones. Barriers if they persist, still often are in the minds of managers.

Of course, most of our staff having to work from home, might well for a few months at least, have to become ‘the new normal’. Culturally, work needs to be done with people on this aspect. Teams do need to get together as a group from time to time, its healthy, as I have seen working with software houses that generally have staff from all over the nation, on projects. This will be a challenge and interesting to see, what else my suffer from lack of regular ‘in person’ meet-ups.

Of course we should expect that infrastructure that usually only sees, 20-50 remote workers, now encountering 150 - 400, might well stretch ICT resources & capacity. ICT staff clearly will feel the pressure and from what I see, will come through it well, as they are true professionals. Staff/users will need to get used to the odd glitch/outage, client-server applications dropping out in a worse manner perhaps than a browser based solution and maybe some slower response times. Not that the latter is a perfect place to be either. A lack of connectivity is just that, whatever type of applications are in use. The latter certainly generally recover better, that's very true. How many kids in your street streaming films in HD might be a bigger factor on the speed side. 

If managers will struggle assessing how diligent and busy staff are when working remotely, you have to question if they can manage to do it when the bums are on seats, in the office. How is throughput and success with workload monitored and measured now? I don’t mean that to sound unnecessarily harsh, employees are not machines, I don’t mean to imply that, but they are employed (mainly) to complete essential tasks. How many organisations implement workflow and allow certain teams or staff members to just ignore it. Who in your team has a digital work tray and when you click to open, it extends like a toddlers nappy?

No need to panic, politicians have now got The Professionals in
We can trust most staff to work remotely and be conscientious and efficient, if there are some that we can’t, we should have helped or dealt with them already, when they were in the wrong roles or had mis-matched skills for the job.

Remote, mobile and agile working will not save the economy from the inevitable downturn and tough times ahead, but it will soften the blow. If your organisation hasn’t embraced it yet, this is the best time ever, to get on the bus.

Related Post: Is it time to bring on the mobiles (BYOD)?


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

The Who - The Kids Are AlrightThe Who - The Kids Are Alright.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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