As we move cautiously into a post-pandemic world, reviewing the past events is only natural. It may be hard to see at first, but there are many positive points floating around in the gloom of the last couple of years. Neighbourhoods started to pull together in a way they hadn’t before, the general public adjusted surprisingly quickly to a new behavioural norm. Workplaces evolved at an amazing pace, driven by worker health concerns and a desire to protect the population as a whole.
Travelling less and making contact with others less often became as important as wearing a mask, or washing your hands regularly.
To facilitate the new nation-wide approach to work practices, there were substantial changes across the board. First off companies had to decide how to approach the new situation. For many, if not all, this was a trial and error process.
If you remember way back to the start of the pandemic, many staff were furloughed, and many were unfortunately let go. There was a palpable fear, as we collectively realised we were officially in unknown territory. Like small children lost in the woods, we were, as a society, looking blankly around us and trying to find our way. There were tears, panic. No-one knew how to behave, or what to do. As we looked further afield, to other nations, it became apparent that they didn’t know either. We started to play a dangerous game of follow the leader, when the leader was lost too. As rumours and news stories told us of various success stories, a darker truth invariably emerged days later. Figures were skewed. The technology used measured ‘x’, when it should have been measuring ‘y’.
The technology advanced, however, as did the role it played in tackling the problems. Track and Trace, Pingdemics and Remote Working all became daily mentions in the various news feeds we were glued to. Covid may not be the world’s first pandemic (the last pandemic recognised as a world-changer was ‘flu in 1918), but it is (to my knowledge) the first one to occur in our modern post-industrial age.
A large portion of the steps taken to curtail the spread of the virus relied on technology. As did many of our responses. There was the ability to track the population as a whole, and send alerts. As a VoIP Provider, however, we are more interested in how communications technology helped the workforce.
The first advantage is obvious to those familiar with VoIP. But the advantages were enormous, possibly bringing us closer to coping, and certainly reducing the impact of the virus on society and the business environment.
As VoIP uses an internet connection to deliver your calls, so it can be deployed almost anywhere. All you need is a good internet signal, and you can set up an office wherever you want. Regarding the pandemic, this meant two things. Firstly, businesses were not tied to a physical location. To move staff from working in an office, to working somewhere else, then the possibility of moving staff and communications has to be possible. VoIP allowed this. Staff could move to anywhere there was an internet connection.
The second advantage becomes obvious, when you consider the first. Companies could carry on their communications with customers as normal. It didn’t really matter that your contact at a company was working from home. There wasn’t any real difference. In this way, a lot of companies made it through with a minimal loss. They didn’t lose orders, customers or good will.
The third advantage to touch on here was the flexible work practices offered by VoIP to smaller businesses. Just because a company had a small staff, maybe even one or two people, didn’t mean it had to close its doors when the office shut.
Many of these people were already using a VoIP service, as it offers a lot of telecoms features for little outlay. Many turned to VoIP as the pandemic kicked in, and we all had to make provision for a new way of living. Attending an office was not possible if you were self-isolating for instance, or if you were caring for someone vulnerable. However, this didn’t mean you couldn’t operate with some semblance of normality.
The ability to use a softphone allows for communications ‘on the go’. Likewise, Call Forwarding allows you to have your calls reach you no matter where.
The final advantage to discuss is Conferencing. To many, pre-pandemic, Conference calls were dreaded. They put you ‘on the spot’. There seemed something odd about discussing things with a room full of people at a distance. However, we have all adjusted to a new set of norms, and Conference Calls are now a fact of life.
They meant we could effectively hold Team Meetings, without meeting. They helped workforces stay together, both from a work and from a personal point of view. Having a weekly Team Meeting became important when everyone was working from home. A return to the old office banter. Sharing jokes, gossip and opinions on things. Conference Calls were not just about work projects. They were just as likely to be about Game of Thrones, or who had stock-piled the most toilet roll.
We’ve covered a few ways in which VoIP helped our work-force, business sector and population as a whole cope a little better with the situation. It’s worth noting that life continuing with some semblance of normality for employees and employers had a much wider social impact. For many, it was a link to a world we knew. When everything around was confusing, at least work was as it should be, more or less. The phrase ‘same old, same old’ encapsulated a certain reassurance. Amongst the news reports, general worry and uncertainty, a steady routine almost became a luxury. Staff meetings were a chance to chat to others. Phone calls from customers took on a new, deeper meaning, as we sought to reach out to our fellow humans. In short, I think we started to value contact and communication more.
Kipling said, in his famous poem “If”:
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two imposters just the same”
To me, this has always meant that there is always some positive in negative events. Maybe the pandemic allowed us to realise how important our relationships in and with society actually are.
Which takes us back to the starting point of this article. Regarding the pandemic, there are positives out there, if we look hard enough. Friends, relationships, society as a whole, our workplaces, our technology. All of these pulled together. So next time you’re asked to participate in a Conference Call, or spend 5 minutes on the phone with a confused customer, try to look at it in the context of our post-pandemic normality. And maybe, you’ll see it for the positive event it actually is.