The Isle of Man found itself in something of a unique position throughout the COVID pandemic. Due to factors ranging from geography, size of population and the agility of the Government in making quick, concise decisions, as a community we have fared better than most and have been able to enjoy the majority of our freedoms much sooner than people in many other areas around the World.

Key to maintaining these freedoms is retaining a focus on the policies which have facilitated them, as well as our responsibilities as individuals which have allowed these policies to be formed.

Businesses as well as individuals played their part with many acting swiftly and responsibly to ensure the safety of their work force and reduce the risk of any spreading of the virus. Many organisations have seen a return to pre-lockdown working conditions for their staff but many others, for a number of reasons, have retained elements of working practices deployed during the lockdown period which range from socially distanced work spaces, a split in working patterns and, as will form the subject for this blog, a reduction in travel and face to face meetings as well as working from home.

An enforced reduction in business travel has, in fact, hastened a trend that Government would like to have seen grow as part of its green agenda. Whilst a general focus on climate issues, so prominent prior to the COVID outbreak, has somewhat waned during it, the issues have not gone away. What the enforced lockdown has done is expose us and our businesses to the technologies which not only provide us with a greener way of working, but also reduce the costs incurred by having people travel for work.

Due to the speed with which the spread of the virus lead to lockdowns, many businesses and their staff hastily found solutions which enabled them to interact with colleagues and clients alike. With the benefits of these solutions becoming clearer now might be the time to form strategy and policy around what technologies are used and how they are deployed.

During April, at the height of lockdown across the Isle of Man and United Kingdom, Microsoft released a statistic stating that use of their Teams platform had risen 70% with some 75m active daily users leveraging its benefits. Could this be part of your longer-term business strategy? Could utilising the Teams platform make your business greener, see productivity rise and overall expenses fall? According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, one particular day in April saw 200m meeting participants on the platform. With the right policies and accompanying technologies in place, could Teams be a key asset in your longer term business strategy?

With the adoption of any technology, there are considerations that should be factored in. Some of these include:

Are you licensed correctly to use Microsoft Teams? A number of Microsoft’s subscription plans include Teams, find out which plan best suits your organisation’s needs and work out if the operational cost of any subscription is going to deliver real value to your business and staff.

What is the connectivity in to your office or user’s homes like? The best applications in the world can be impacted by poor connectivity.

Do your security processes factor in home working? There are many implications around the security aspect of a wider deployment of a new technology, your IT Team or IT Service Provider should be consulted in what these are.

Are you able to effectively conference? With groups of people now working together again, do you have a reliable, fit for purpose conferencing facility within your business? Could the savings made in a reduction in travel be utilised in providing a robust, professional conferencing solution for you organisation? Does this platform work across a range of platforms, such as Teams, Zoom, Webex and others, giving you the ultimate flexibility?

Do all staff know how to use the technologies effectively? In many instances users get by using only small percentage of what platforms such as Teams can offer. With the right training could your monthly user subscription provide even greater value to your staff and business? Would effective training help? As a Microsoft Partner, Argon Business Systems has a large, experienced and skilled team who can help you through each step of your process as remote working, collaborations through technology or a shift in your working dynamics cements itself within your business strategy. Please do not hesitate to contact your Relationship Manager to discuss further. The benefits of successfully deploying these technologies inside your business extend way beyond your organisation itself.