COVID-19 forced companies to shift their workforces like they never had before.

Restrictions on gatherings made working in one physical space impossible and companies quickly adjusted their capabilities.

Research by AppDynamics, an app performance management software company owned by Cisco, provides some indication of the extent of impact.

Over 80 per cent of organisation technologists globally believed the COVID-19 shift created “the biggest technology pressure for their organisation they have ever experienced”.

Around 64 per cent said demands they were facing were beyond anything they had ever had to deal with before. And 61 per cent felt under more pressure than ever before.

Some of the biggest problems included managing spikes in traffic and managing mean time to resolution (MTTR) on issues.


From forming to storming

While the radical shift occurred weeks ago, there is still the uncertainty over what will happen next.

And one expert thinks more change is on the horizon.

Nathan Knight, general Manager at Lenovo DCG — the division of Lenovo that manages data centres, believes the next shift won’t be as rapid, but it could be just as challenging.

Pointing to Bruce Tuckman’s model of group development, Knight said the forming stage was complete and the storming stage loomed.

“Organisations have gone off and said ‘OK we need to stand our remote workers up and get them to a point where they can actually provide simple core capability to the business’, I think we’re absolutely at that stage now,” he told Stockhead.

“The next challenge we’re going to be having is that storming space. The discussions we are having with a lot of our customers is the productivity discussion.”

The problem is that while workers are doing more than ever before, it isn’t necessarily being done in a productive manner, according to Knight.

“I don’t know about you but I’m spending a significant amount of my time on calls, in collaboration tools like [Microsoft] Teams. I am doing a lot but I would suggest I’m probably not as productive as I was,” he noted.

“So I think technology is going to be the key area that allows us to move from a storming stage of ‘we are there’ to a productivity stage.”


Companies need more data

Knight thinks businesses will look more to analytics to judge the performance of their remote workforce. He believes while some may return to the office, a significant proportion will not.

“I think there is a new norm. I would suggest that within our organisation we might have 50 per cent of the people we had in the office going forward that will [return to] operate in our office,” he said.

“Different types of things we’ve initiated are measurements that allow us to understand the productivity of our organisation.”

Knight said Lenovo looked at things like number of quotes generated and tracked activity reports to guage the level of activity of its sales team and how the company was tracking with its sales pipeline.

“So we are looking at data a lot more than we would’ve if our people were sitting in our office, sitting next to their manager and their manager would have managed it a lot more organically,” he explained.

“There’s a real requirement for data insights and more analytics to be able to manage our teams.”