Returning to work after an extended absence is stressful at the best of times. After a year-long maternity leave, for example, an employee can expect a certain number of changes and new stresses related to being away from their child or even job-related knowledge gaps. Add in the layer of returning to work during a pandemic and you have a whole new set of obstacles to navigate. While these challenges are top priority for employees returning from a leave, they are also concerning for employees who had to quickly adapt to working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many organizations had to rapidly deploy technology solutions to support remote team communication and collaboration.
Since returning from a recent maternity leave, one employee observed, “After a year of leave, I took on a new position working closely with colleagues I had never met. With the collaboration applications that were widely adopted during my time away, onboarding has been a breeze. Every time I meet with a team member, I feel like I am in the room with them, and the communication and collaboration tools used between meetings have definitely increased my productivity.” At ISM Canada, employees have expressed their satisfaction with the rapid implementation of the work-from-home strategy for over 750 employees, including the effectiveness for critical activities like client interactions through video conferencing applications.
Feeling like you’re in the room with team members does depend on the culture surrounding how the technology is used. It’s awkward when only one or two of the team members in the virtual meeting share their video, and over time, it becomes normal to not share video when working with certain teams, diminishing the “in the room” feeling. It takes a concerted effort to share video and create a new cultural norm.
The suite of Microsoft products included in O365, what the industry calls the modern workplace, have been widely adopted and are extensively used by organizations of all sizes worldwide. While many people may be relatively familiar with this group of products, the new capabilities might be surprising. For example, Microsoft Teams quickly became popular when employees across the globe were sent home to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its most well-known feature—virtual meetings—is just the tip of the iceberg. Less familiar are some of the advanced capabilities: integration with other O365 products, on-the-fly AI language translation in chat windows to over 40 different languages, the background effects (blur, custom backgrounds) and town-hall live events with up to 10,000 attendees to name a few. Microsoft Teams also integrates seamlessly with certified Teams hardware like desk phones, conference rooms and interactive smart boards.
And it’s not just O365. Many organizations now prefer to host their critical applications in the Azure Cloud to take advantage of the cost and time savings resulting from the pay-for-usage model and the peace of mind provided by this managed service solution. As an experienced cloud service provider, leading Microsoft partner, and long-time data storage company, ISM Canada understands the complexities of a cloud journey, and can make this transition with minimal business interruptions for their clients.
As employees return to the office, either from an extended leave or working from home during the pandemic, they can expect ongoing changes to the working environment. The impact of these changes can be minimized and improvements achieved by implementing and leveraging new technologies. Improvements are realized in part through a reduced number and duration of meetings due to the enhanced collaboration capabilities at employees’ disposal, decreased on premise software and hardware costs, and improved employee satisfaction.
Awarded one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for the past 11 years, ISM Canada cares about our employees’ work-life balance as well as their health and safety. By creating a modern workplace, we have enabled employees to focus on what matters most.
Product Development, Cloud Services
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