Keep human connections in a changing digital world
Maintaining human connections in a digital world continues to be extremely relevant as we navigate our new, ever- changing reality of living and working in a pandemic world. Adapting to COVID-19 has been different for everyone, but what has remained universal is the importance of our connections and relationships with one another.
During a recent Hawaiian Telcom University event, we explored the effects that technology has had on local businesses and how they adapted to a new way of working. We focused on ways to evolve business practices and use technology to strengthen personal relationships with customers and employees.
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
>> Learning new ways to collaborate with customers and employees
>> The relationship factor: how getting along with your team/manager can shape happiness, productivity and satisfaction
>> Tips and tricks that will simplify your work process so you can focus on your customer
>> Tips on balancing productivity and burnout in the remote world
Our speakers included:
>> Jordan Silva: senior manager, service delivery — CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom
>> Bryan Cooper: vice president of information technology, Sullivan Family of Companies
>> C. Kimo Alameda: chief executive officer, Bay Clinic
>> Steve Petranik (moderator): editor, Hawaii Business Magazine
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 accustomed to virtual meetings, it’s the departments and teams that have continued to adapt how they use technology who have the most engaged, productive employees.
The 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 it navigated the many changes caused by the pandemic was through increasing its e-commerce locations. Knowing many people were reluctant to walk into the stores, Foodland increased its e-commerce locations to 15 from two in only two months after the pandemic had started. Foodland stresses customer service as the point of difference. Therefore, it made extra efforts in its customer relations. In order to ensure the same level of satisfaction as within its bricks-and-mortar stores, Foodland offered pickup services and has increased its outbound efforts to conduct regular customer follow-ups.
Bay Clinic expanded during the pandemic. That meant more relationships to build with its new customers and new staff members. Again, technology was the answer. It installed “fever kiosks” to take temperatures and a special disinfecting air-conditioning system to prevent spread of disease and make its patients and employees feel at ease. It also utilized a mobile clinic and embraced telehealth. While other health centers were closing or decreasing their services, Bay Clinic ended up expanding.
Clearly, other companies also put their trust in technology. During the pandemic, CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom saw a large uptick in videoconferencing and chat- related solutions. Prior to the pandemic, CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom helped many clients implement solutions like WebEx from Cisco for the sole purpose of videoconferencing, but during the pandemic we saw that shift toward full collaboration suites like Office 365 with MS Teams. 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. Decentralized cloud-based solutions like “Workspace as a Service” also have been increasingly utilized by companies to enable remote workers and to keep data secure.
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” two to three times a day, and they plan to keep this practice indefinitely since the majority of employees have embraced it. As employees are located on different parts of the Big Island, they can avoid the commute and help the environment by jumping on a call. Other than work-related conversations, the team has been using Zoom for “Wine at 5” and 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.
It’s clear that working from home is here to stay. It’s 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 many aspects of our jobs, but we can never automate human relationships, as 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.
About Hawaiian Telcom University
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 processes and everyday lives.
Jordan Silva is senior manager of service delivery at CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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