Have we really changed, or is digital transformation still happening in a parallel world?
COVID-19 has brought changes to the office world we could have only dreamt of 18 months ago. It has served up quite some new challenges, too.
Physical office presence in many companies across the globe has been reduced to a minimum; you may blame it on the office environment itself, including outdated technology, e.g., air-conditioning, and the necessity and medical requirement for physical distancing.
What did we do instead? We flooded ourselves and our teams with conference calls, mainly video calls. So much that by the end of 2020, “being zoomed out” has become as much of a common expression as “let me Google this” only a few years ago—with the slight difference that it took Google several years to become a verb. For Zoom, on the other hand, it took only a few months.
Phrases like “You’re on mute” and “Sorry I don’t have enough bandwidth for this” became phrases of the year. Their literal meanings are synonymous with how many of us are still feeling today; we’d like to be on mute sometimes, and we don’t have enough bandwidth for all this.
A recent survey published by the Harvard Business Review suggests that there is such a thing as too much collaboration, and it significantly reduces our productivity.
Ready or Not, This is It
Or is it? Is our work life digitally transformed forever? I really hope it isn’t. Mind you, I am used to remote working and telecommuting, but all in moderation. I fully agree with the HBR survey; too much keeping in touch kills productivity. When do you find the time to do your actual work when you’re on video calls all day?
In many cases, these calls are set up to make sure the team is working. But in the office, are you talking to your colleagues all day? You come in, say your good mornings, and off you go to your desk, head down, work, work, work. The odd meeting interrupts your productivity; calling and emailing your customers is your top priority!
And let’s be clear, remote working and conference calls are no sign of digital transformation. Instead, digital transformation happens in precisely two places—your head and your IT department. In both cases, there’s still universe-size room for improvement.
From Transformation to Renaissance
The printing industry has seen a somewhat surprising renaissance over the past months, coming back from the dead. Direct mail is making an impact again. Paper measurably makes the difference. Who would have thought? But don’t worry, paper isn’t back. And it won’t come back, to the office that is. It’s only a pleasant alternative to B2C emails and saves us from spending even more time online.
If there’s one thing we all should have learned from the past 18 months, paper documents—as we used to create/distribute them—are all history. The work of the knowledge worker has changed for good, and we should do everything to keep and advance these changes.
The Dealer Channel Challenge
Nothing can stop market consolidation. M&As are filling offerings gaps, and they’re even more specialty-savvy this time. Security, document management, device management, cost management, MIS—pick any of them, take all of them, and more. Without them, it will be hard to survive as a dealership going forward. So, those who are able are going shopping, while others who see their limits, pretty up and put themselves out there, ready to join another team.
There is a crazy number of new things to learn and embrace. Hardware, software, processes, security, (mental) health, diversity, inclusion, and trust are just a small selection.
And there are plenty of soft skills and software team management tools available to ensure everyone is productive, working hard, and making money in a secured, future-proof workplace. And then, there are software collaboration tools, registering online check-ins, productivity, encouraging collaboration without overwhelming teams with meetings, monitoring tools, daily work reports, and more.
It’s all looking good, and different, but really good. Let’s do this!
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