Event Recap - Business is Personal: Maintaining Human Connections in a Digital World
Maintaining human connections in a digital world continues to be extremely relevant as we all navigate our new, ever-changing reality of living and working in a pandemic world. Adapting to COVID has been different for everyone, but what has remained universal is the importance of our connections and relationships with one another.
Topics of discussion:
- The impact of agility in a tech driven environment - how to shape and engage your distributed teams to thrive and achieve work/life balance
- Learn new ways to collaborate with your customers and your employees
- The relationship factor - how getting along with your team / manager can shape happiness, productivity and satisfaction
- Tips & Tricks that will simplify your work process so you can focus on your customer
- Tips on balancing productivity and burnout in the remote world
Senior Manager, Service Delivery
CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom
Vice President of Information Technology
Sullivan Family of Companies
C. Kimo Alameda, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Moderator: Steve Petranik
Editor, Hawaii Business
Like many other companies, the CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom workforce transformed overnight to the majority of employees working remotely, and we continue to do so. While we all have become very accustomed to virtual meetings, it’s the departments and teams who’ve continued to adapt how they use technology – who didn’t set it and forget it - who have the most engaged, productive employees.
Same goes for companies. The pandemic has seen many businesses close their doors. The ones that embraced technology, from innovative ways to keep serving their customers to virtual relationship-building tools, have not only survived but thrived in the new environment.
Foodland saw challenges in its tourism-related and other divisions during the pandemic but enjoyed expansion and strong sales in its grocery division. The way they navigated the many changes caused by the pandemic was through increasing their ecommerce locations. Knowing many people were reluctant to walk into the stores Foodland had increased their ecommerce locations from 2 to 15 in only two months after the pandemic had started. Foodland stresses customer service as the point of difference, therefore they made extra efforts in their customer relations. In order to ensure the same level of satisfaction as within their brick and mortar stores, Foodland offered pick up services and has increased their outbound efforts to conduct regular customer follow-ups.
Bay Clinic expanded during the pandemic. That meant more relationships to build with their new customers and new staff members. Again, technology was the answer. They installed “fever kiosks” to take temperatures and a special disinfecting air conditioning system to prevent spread of disease and make their patients and employees feel at ease. They also utilized a mobile clinic and embraced telehealth. While other health centers were closing or decreasing their services Bay Clinic ended up expanding. Moreover, because of the implemented solutions they now feel more prepared to respond to the next wave of the pandemic.
Of course, relying on technology is only going to be effective with a trusted service provider who is able to offer superb product and support. Successful integration of telehealth and mobile unit would not be possible without a reliable internet connection. The Bay Clinic recently announced a 3-year strategic plan. “This would not be possible without Hawaiian Telcom Fiber Network and their expertise,” says Dr. Alameda, “Technology gave us confidence to expand and to assure our board that in the next 3 years we will be ok.”
Clearly other companies also put their trust in technology. During the pandemic
CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom has seen a large uptick in video conferencing and chat related solutions. Prior to the pandemic we helped many clients implement solutions like Webex from Cisco for the sole purpose of video conferencing. When people started working from home they realized there was more to connectivity than just talking to each other on the video. People needed to be able to collaborate, share information, and be productive. "Microsoft Teams became more and more popular within our company and with our clients," says Silva, "While it’s not the same as being in the same building with each other, it still gives a bit of a team feel and offers more engagement at that level." Decentralized cloud-based solutions have been increasingly more utilized by the companies to enable remote workers and keep their data secure. Any technology that helps resolve these issues has become increasingly popular.
Keeping employees connected and engaged is another issue during this work-from-home era. At Bay Clinic, Zoom became everyone’s friend. Staff members have started to do “zoom huddles” 2-3 times a day. They are even planning on keeping this practice indefinitely, since the majority of employees have embraced it. Located on different parts of the Big Island, they can now avoid the commute and help the environment by jumping on a call instead. Other than work-related conversations, the team has been using Zoom for “Wine at 5” and even potlucks. With the current health protocols and restrictions, socializing on Zoom has become more engaging. It may even be preferable to getting together in a conference room where everyone has to wear masks, since on Zoom everyone can see each other’s faces.
At Foodland, not surprisingly, the use of teleconferencing and collaboration tools have increased as well. Another hit – instant messaging. While barely used before the pandemic, instant messenger have become another effective tool to catch up and stay connected. Since the employees no longer had drive-by conversations, Foodland encouraged employees to shoot a quick message to keep each other in the loop. But instant messaging was no longer limited to work-related topics. After years of being frowned upon, personal and entertaining conversations in a company’s chat became welcomed and even encouraged.
It is now clear that working from home is here to stay. It is time to accept this new reality and utilize the available tools to succeed. We can leverage technology so we can have more time to be human. We can automate a lot of aspects of our job but we can never automate human relationships - you have to spend some time to develop them. Focus your technology efforts on being more efficient at work and use the spare time building relationships.
Hawaiian Telcom University is an ongoing educational series with topics ranging from consumer technology trends to solutions for complex business issues. Hawaiian Telcom University’s aim is to help customers as well as the broader local community better understand technology and how it can be leveraged to improve business process and everyday lives.