Author: Gary Hibberd

Date: 1st March 2021


I have said from the outset that this current pandemic is a very real test for the world’s HR departments because the pandemic affected real people in very real ways. Quite rightly, over recent months, the focus needed to be on people and how we can support each other through these turbulent times.

Now that Boris Johnson has announced the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’, everyone within the organisation must be focused on what the roadmap means to them, their teams and their departments.


Real Estate vs Virtual Estate

One shift we expect to see is the reduction in people wishing to travel into a major metropolis, like London. This is filled by personal anxieties and the genuine understanding that many people can operate quite effectively in remote locations.

I spoke to one client recently who explained the difficulties they face.

“There will be people who are willing to come to the office (in London), others who are totally unprepared to, and those who sit in the middle and will be happy to go with the consensus. We are seeing a shift in attitudes, but what’s the point of 50 people coming into the office to then sit on Zoom/Teams meetings with people operating remotely? Also, how can we realistically achieve this? It would be something like a call centre, where we would need to arm every person with headsets and cameras! It’s a real dilemma but one we’re going to have to face head-on and deal with.”

Of course, every situation is individual, and every organisation must consider how operations are going to look in the coming months. There is no perfect solution, only YOUR solution.


Business Continuity and Resilience

For many years Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery specialists have argued that heavily populated cities are potential ‘hotspots’ for incidents and significant disruption. A problem with the transport network can bring a major city to a halt, for example. And the threat of terrorist attacks has been a constant topic for discussion and concern for any BC Manager for the last thirty years. 

Due to the recent pandemic, it has become apparent that many organisations are now looking at real estate outside major cities, like London. This is in a bid to reduce the risks they face and reduce the anxieties of team members who would need to travel to these densely populated locations. From an IT perspective, this includes moving Data Centres and storage from ‘on premises’ (aka ‘on prem’) to a more virtualised environment, including Public, Private and Hybrid cloud environments.

Reduction of an office’s physical footprint can be a major cost-saving, and moving that footprint to a virtual one located outside major cities is something I’m seeing people discussing at great length right now. But it’s not just based on cost savings that these conversations are taking place. It’s because organisations understand that there will be disruption to transport networks for some time, and anxieties about travelling into major cities from their teams will continue for some time to come.


A Cloud in the Country

As we all know, the beauty of a Cloud environment is that you can access it anywhere. But it’s worth remembering that the Cloud environment has to exist ‘somewhere’ in the world; Cloud, simply means someone else’s computer! For organisations considering a move to a more virtualised environment might want to think carefully about where that cloud ‘lives’, because not all clouds are equal, and not all clouds are located within the UK or even within the EU. This represents an issue for organisations who don’t know where their data is stored, ie. Which cloud does our Data sit on?!

Having a Cloud in the Country(side) might be the best solution right now for organisations looking to move out of the city to reduce costs or reduce anxieties. Whichever reason it is, there is little doubt that our working environments are changing, and this is in part because our attitudes to how we work have changed.

I still believe that this pandemic is a major challenge for the HR department, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. But every function now needs to carefully consider what the next 12 months will look like for them—None-more-so than the IT department.  As a business enabler, the IT department will need to come up with flexible solutions that work for everyone, including the home-workers and the commuters. Having a Cloud in the Country might be one way you can save money and stress. Either way, it’s always nice to have a Cloud you can visit.

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