Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work, forever? 

Prior to the global pandemic, businesses were already investing billions into digital transformation. According to a report by the International Data Corporation, organizations were forecast to spend $1.18 trillion on digital transformation in 2019

Now, COVID-19 has fast tracked many businesses’ digital transformation. Projects that should have taken years to complete, have been implemented in a matter of weeks

Digital transformation has never been more important. In this article, we’ll share four ways to supercharge your digital transformation strategy, and help your business succeed, even in these difficult times. 

1. Automate your remote working admin

Even before the global pandemic, 99% of employees wanted the option to work remotely. When you consider the benefits associated with remote working, it’s easy to see why remote working has always been a popular choice. 

For many employees, working from home means a better work-life balance, working flexible hours, and less time spent on the morning commute. It’s also generally accepted that remote working is the key to a happier workforce

However, everything has its downsides. In particular, remote working can generate lots of time-consuming and frustrating administrative work. You may need to record your employees’ whereabouts for health and safety purposes, track their working hours, and ensure managers know whether their staff are coming into the office today, or working from home. 

As part of a successful digital transformation strategy, you can replace this administrative busywork with automated workflows that do all the hard work for you. 

Although automation may sound technical, its benefits aren’t restricted to your IT department. You can use a modern, cloud-based tool such as Power Automate to implement automation across your entire organization. Once these workflows are in place, your employees won’t need any specialist technical knowledge in order to benefit from these automated workflows. 

You can use Power Automate to add seamless automation to all your existing Microsoft 365 solutions, plus plenty of third party tools. This includes many applications that are perfect for remote working, including DropBox, Asana, Trello, and GitHub. 

To help you drive digital transformation, we’ve created a series of Power Automate guides. Each of these tutorials show you how to build a complete Power Automate workflow, ready to deploy across your organization:

Create an automated work tracker. When it comes to remote working, many employers have one major concern: how can you effectively monitor a remote workforce? In this tutorial, we show you how to build a complete work and activity tracker. Once you deploy this workflow, your employees will be able to record their location and activity, with the tap of a button. 

Automatically send a working from home email. Maybe your employees are splitting their time between working from home, and working from the office. This flexibility can be great for productivity and employee morale, but it does make it more difficult to keep track of your staff. Your employees can use this Power Automate workflow to send a Working From Home email to their manager, with the tap of a button. This promotes transparency across your workforce, regardless of their location. 

Automate your employee onboarding. You’ll want to get new hires up to speed as quickly as possible. However, with many people continuing to work from home, employee onboarding can be particularly challenging. If you let the onboarding process drag on, then it can prevent your new hire from reaching their full potential. It can also generate more work for members of staff who are responsible for the new hire, such as their mentor and your HR department. If you plan to hire any new staff, then we’d recommend taking the time to update your onboarding process for the current climate. This might involve creating a separate onboarding process for remote workers, or tweaking your current onboarding procedures so they adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, such as social distancing. Once you’ve updated your onboarding processes, you can automate it - in this guide, we show you how! 

Want more automation workflows for your remote workers? Check out our roundup of 3 Essential Power Automate Templates for Remote Workers

2. Enforce security protocols across all devices 

Remote working has enabled many businesses to remain operational throughout the 2020 global pandemic. However, without robust security procedures and policies in place, remote working can make your business more vulnerable to attack. 

Many employees have spent the past few months working from their own laptops and smartphones. This means your staff could be storing a tonne of confidential customer data on their personal devices. Hopefully, your employees are taking steps to keep this data safe, such as protecting their smartphones with Multi Factor Authentication. However, as part of your digital transformation strategy you should strive to close all security loopholes. 

By opting for a modern, security-conscious platform such as Microsoft 365, you’ll have access to a range of sophisticated security features. Rather than assuming your employees will uphold all your security best standards, we’d recommend making your security policies mandatory. By enforcing security policies and features, you can prevent staff from accessing your data and applications on any device that doesn’t fulfill all your security requirements.

Ready to take back control of your corporate apps and data? We’ve published guides on how to block dangerous legacy authentication protocols, blacklist common passwords, and even how to prevent your staff from using passwords altogether

3. Connect with digital transformation experts 

Throughout 2020, we saw countless conferences, expos, and other events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Google I/O 2020, and Microsoft Ignite. 

However, many organizations have adapted to this new normal, and embraced a “digital first” approach. Even if your favorite in-person tech conference was cancelled, there’s a wide range of digital events that you can attend. These events range from local meet-ups, to global events hosted by some of the biggest names in the industry. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can continue to network, collaborate, and learn throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital events aren’t just a substitute for their in-person counterparts - there are some areas where digital events have an advantage. In particular, you can attend a virtual event form anywhere in the world, without having to worry about expenses such as transport and accommodation. 

Ready to connect with digital transformation experts? At Systems Assurance, we’re proud to be participating in the Sheffield Virtual TechExpo. This unique, online-only event features a panel of expert speakers who will deep-dive into cutting-edge topics, including the latest developments in Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud services. This free event is dedicated to giving attendees the tools they need, in order to deploy emerging, innovative digital technologies across their business. 

As part of this event, Systems Assurance’s Kristina Bennington will be discussing the security risks associated with remote working, and the steps your business can take to keep your applications and data safe throughout the pandemic. 

The best thing is, Sheffield Virtual TechExpo is completely free! You can sign up for as many sessions as you want – although we’d highly recommend checking out Kristina’s Cloud Services: Secure work from anywhere. 

4. Invest in a cloud-based communication platform (if you haven’t already!) 

A modern, efficient and reliable communication platform is essential for successful digital transformation. 

By providing easy access to the tools your employees need to collaborate, you can streamline practically every business process, from onboarding, to deprovisioning, conflict resolution, and even day-to-day collaboration.

By opting for a cloud-based communication tool such as Microsoft Teams, you can ensure your employees always have access to the tools they need, regardless of geographical location. This is particularly important in today’s uncertain business landscape, where ongoing COVID-19 restrictions may force your employees to work from home, potentially at very short notice. 

Since the start of the pandemic, countless businesses have turned to Teams to help them remain operational throughout the global pandemic. In April, over 200 million people participated in a Microsoft Teams meeting in a single day, and Teams now has over 75 million daily active users! 

If you do switch to Microsoft Teams, then we have 6 productivity hacks to help you get the most out of your new communications platform. These hacks were specifically chosen to help boost productivity, promote transparency amongst remote teams - and ultimately drive your digital transformation. 

Sheffield Virtual TechExpo will take place on November 19th, 2020. Registration is now open, so don’t forget to reserve your spot!