By MARK TOWNSEND
Since the onset of Covid-19, remote and hybrid work has become the new normal in Zambia, as in many other parts of the globe.
Research* predicts the percentage of workers around the world who permanently work from home will double this year.
And whilst remote work can bring cybersecurity threats and other challenges, it has been shown to improve productivity* and create new efficiencies.
This is crucial for business at this time when Zambia is trying to recover from the 2020 recession and with slow economic growth anticipated for 2021.
So, how can businesses overcome the challenges of remote work and succeed at this time?
A custom approach
Ensuring your remote team have connectivity is essential, with the same quality connection they were used to at the workplace. Other than this, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for remote work – businesses’ needs and budgets vary tremendously.
We found that consulting strategically with customers right at the start, allowed us to fully grasp their goals and needs, and enabled us to develop appropriate, customised plans and solutions using an optimal mix of technologies.
It’s crucial to factor in how each individual operates remotely and what resources are available. Is the business beset by manual systems that don’t translate well to remote work?
Are they working on a cell phone, landline or wireless? Some workers don’t have an office and are operating exclusively on mobile. Take these aspects into account when putting together a suitable solution.
What are the business’s priorities and goals? Sales, engagement or supply chain management?
Assess the situation, then identify a custom technology solution for your business – whether it’s cloud-based solutions, a website, software, email management, voice, cybersecurity or IT support etc.
In these uncertain times, it can be difficult for businesses to consider new expenditure. A practical option is prepaid or monthly contracts to spread costs over time.
Digital transformation is a process, rather than a quick fix. You can layer on more digital solutions and create even more efficiencies as finances allow and your business grows or recovers. Digitisation levels the playing field for start-ups and SMEs that are now able to compete with larger enterprises.
Support and security
For remote workers and SMEs that don’t have access to an in-house IT team, secure, efficient systems and support help ensure workers remain connected and as productive as possible.
Cybersecurity is essential; cybercrime is on the rise and increasingly sophisticated. We haven’t seen major breaches in Zambia yet, but the threat is there.
It is crucial that connectivity is encrypted, and your cloud solutions sit on secure servers. Your people are the first line of defence, empower them to act as a human firewall by training them how to secure their – and your – data.
Since the pandemic, e-commerce is growing in Zambia; our rankings improved in UNCTAD’s B2C E-Commerce Index 2020 from 125 to 120 and the government is further developing an e-commerce strategy and reviewing its national ICT policy.
There are endless opportunities that can be grasped by remote – and on-site – teams. We’ve seen customers succeed and grow through digital marketing, advertising on Google and social media, leveraging their websites and email.
Today, wherever your workers are based, you can be available online and able to compete at a global level. There is enormous potential and it’s an exciting time.
Covid-19 has had a massive impact on internet adoption, the economy and how businesses operate. Many of these changes will be permanent, a digital world is our new ‘normal’. The businesses that adapt will survive and thrive.
It’s no longer about coping short-term, it’s about applying technology to create seamless collaboration, improve data security and stimulate future growth with emerging tech such as artificial intelligence (AI). Remote and hybrid work is the future, and the right digital strategy is the key to success.
For more about Liquid’s full-service digital solutions visit www.liquid.tech.
The author is CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Zambia.