Managed Services - Their place in the Future of Work

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Back in the last century, I got interested in business recovery when my bank actually tested its disaster recovery plan and discovered that the telephone service in the village which hosted our hot-recovery data centre, couldn’t cope with the volume of business our dealers did. But we had no problem recovering our databases and they performed very well with low volumes of business transactions, resulting from only a few people actually being able to log into them.

Such issues are becoming higher profile again as a result of COVID. It is becoming obvious that flexible workplaces are a useful insurance against all sorts of contingencies affecting a business, including another pandemic.

But some things haven’t changed. Plans for business continuity in the face of contingencies have to be thought through in advance, not put together in a panic as the contingency looms; and they must be thoroughly tested. The problem is that such planning is often hard to prioritise over immediate issues especially as it requires different skills to those needed for routine operations, which may not be available in-house. It is too easy to address the technical issues and neglect the less well-defined business priorities.

This means that outsourcing the provision of serviced business workplaces (offices) is worth considering. The provider should have the expertise to advise on the services required, from a business point of view. This fits well with a world where (as recent IDC research, commissioned by Sungard AS has highlighted) “three-quarters (75%) of organizations can be considered unprepared for a significant organizational disruption. Organizations too often lag in either DR (disaster recovery) planning or workplace recovery planning – or both”.

One advantage of a managed service is that one can see what will be offered in advance and validate the addressing of employee welfare issues (rest rooms, food provision, transport facilities etc.) that the employer is responsible for, but which may be overlooked in a technology-focused business continuity effort. It is too late to find out what you’ve forgotten when a contingency bites – and pretty disruptive of the business even if you find out in the middle of a pre-planned migration.

We see four scenarios, in order of urgency, where the availability of a managed services facility, validated in advance, could be a valuable part of the Future of Work in a company:

  1. Bringing people back into the office after a period of home-working dictated by COVID. People may not all wish to come back to the office and/or working office hours, but some of the issues with relying on home offices (space, distractions, technology provision, workplace quality, health and safety) may have become apparent.
  2. Competing with other companies working more flexibly, and giving better customer service, than is possible from a central office in a single physical location. We may be moving into a new era of distributed working.
  3. Providing a continuing business service in the face of a contingency (fire, bomb, police cordon, transport disruption), affecting access to or operation of a central office location.
  4. Planning for the next pandemic. This might be in the wrong position in the list.

We wouldn’t go so far as to say that managed workspaces will dominate the Future of Work, but they might, and IDC’s finding that “Despite a clear and intuitive need for workplace recovery, most organizations simply don’t have it” is worrying. In any case, we think that managed workspaces should be assessed as part of planning for the Future of Work and Business Continuity protection in any organisation.

This post is part of our Future of Work series. You can read the previous post or find them all in our Future of Work section. If you’d like to discuss how we can help get you prepared for the way work and business is changing, then please contact us.