As COVID-19 rapidly transforms the way we work, Velrada offered solutions to WA business leaders to help fast track digital transformation and support virtual teams.
The long lunch is a staple of business life – a chance to press the flesh and swap ideas. But with the coronavirus outbreak imposing social distancing and forcing many to work from home, WA business leaders are embracing technology to keep top level conversations and col- laborations going.
A cross section of Perth’s business leaders held a virtual boardroom lunch meeting with Business News to share their strategies for adapting to the lock- down and what the world of work will look like once the crisis passes.
Logging on from their home or remote offices, the group was led by Velrada, a Perth-based technology innovator that has been optimising remote workforces for many years through its partnership with Microsoft.
Velrada’s chief executive Rob Evans told the group that instead of seeing COVID-19 as a temporary disruption to their usual ways of operation, businesses should grasp the future of work through remote digital platforms like Microsoft Teams.
“It’s an interesting shift though because it’s not just a technology shift, it’s a way of working and it engenders a series of other questions around how informa- tion is managed, governance around information, and a different working style,” he said.
“When something like this hits, it cer- tainly focuses the organisation beyond the need to get those things happening.”
Velrada leads the way for remote work revolution
Velrada has seen an upsurge in demand for its services to help busi- nesses pivot to digital services. The company does this by bringing true business context to the Microsoft stack, with software solutions allowing com- panies to optimise remote working seamlessly.
Velrada chief innovation officer, Dan Hookham, told the meeting that COVID- 19 is changing the way the world works, and businesses that embrace digital workforce solutions will be in a position to thrive.
“It’s not just about taking a laptop home, as I’m sure you’re all finding for your teams right now,” he said.
“It is a mindset shift, but it’s also about how do you deal with some of the more soft skills or activities that your business does, workshopping, team manage- ment, leadership in those particular events. There’s a number of pieces of software we focused on, such as devel- oping capability packs that enable businesses in that regard.”
Microsoft national lead for civilian government Andy Wood was also on the call to tell the virtual boardroom that its global software corporation is moving swiftly to meet huge demand for its ser- vices through partners like Velrada.
“That’s been evidenced by the growth in Microsoft Teams in the space of a week, increasing by 12 million users up to 44 million users. That has been abso- lutely massive,” he said.
“So the thing we’re actually focusing on at the moment is rapidly enabling remote working through collaboration tools and virtual workspaces. So that is being able to say, right, how can you do the things that you need to do on a daily basis in a different way from a different location?”
WA business sector digitally adapts to COVID-19
Throwing the discussion open, Mr Hookham invited the group to detail their organisation’s responses to the COVID-19 lockdown. Gary Cox, the chairman of intellectual property group Wrays, said its employees had to move swiftly to adapt to working remotely.
“We’ve sort of moved from one end of the spectrum, where I’ve had full teams of offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, to having what is effectively
– as of this Friday – completely moving the business into the virtual environment, which was something I never really expected would happen so quickly,” he said.
WA state manager for AGL Energy, Jackie Shervington, told the online group the company has embraced Microsoft Teams as it implements remote working for much of its workforce and continues its business’s mission.
“It’s very much about trying to under- stand where the opportunities are to keep growing…as well as knowing where are the weaknesses, where are the pain points, and how do we support those people who are in pain?”
Jody Nunn from the WA division of the Australian Institute of Company Directors said her organisation has been forced to suspend many of its development courses, but was pivoting to offer more online content.
“We had over 2,000 people logged into our webinar on the COVID-19 pan- demic and how boards can respond. This will be followed by a program of timely webinars examining business turnaround strategies; boardroom deci- sion-making in a crisis; and the board’s role in business renewal,” she said.
Acknowledging these quick adapta- tions, Mr Wood said COVID-19 was a ‘once in a lifetime event’ that requires digital solutions like those offered by Vel- rada. He said the Western Australian Police Force had just rolled out a digital remote working tool in record time with Microsoft’s help.
“A highly complex organisation had the urgent need to be able to deploy a collaboration tool set across their entire organisation, so eight and a half thousand employees generally,” he said. “From my previous experience in the public sector and the general norm, that sort of project would be about 14 to 18 months deployment from go to whoa..They successfully did it in four days.”
Velrada offers help for WA business sector
With so much demand for remote working solutions, Mr Hookham said Velrada is ramping up its efforts to help businesses across Australia turn COV- ID-19’s temporary disruption into an optimised way of working for the future. “For 10 years, we’ve been helping optimise remote workforces, in terms of getting the most productivity they can out of being not at a desk. That has been out in the field, that has been at home, that’s been in different locations across the planet.
“We took that particular aspect and we’ve accelerated that. And we contin- ued to help organisations, with assisting them in moving to a remote workforce, and with a focus on optimisation around productivity,” he said.
The need for many workers to retain centralised elements of their jobs and have access to digital solutions was a major discussion point. Trevor Whit- tington, chief executive officer of WA Farmers, said whilst most agricultural work is classed as an essential service, the sector is increasingly reliant on dig- ital connections.
Tom Griffiths, Managing Director of the South West Group, said councils he works with are juggling the need to pro- vide services and stay within the rules of the lockdown.
“There are certainly different arrange- ments for different staff across the member councils depending on their role and service area.
“I suspect that by the end of this week or next, councils will shut down their offices to the public and a greater pro- portion of staff are directed to work from home or are redeployed to other service areas.” he told the virtual boardroom.
With Velrada, Mr Hookham said innovative solutions like Microsoft’s tech- nology stack are used to integrate the needs of both frontline and remote workers, allowing each to support the other. “We don’t consider remote working to be something that just impacts desk workers by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
“We see technology around things such as mixed reality as a great opportunity here for adoption in that particular area to drive productivity with frontline workers.”
Velrada’s positive vision for the future of work
COVID-19 has had a severe impact on economies around the world. Leadership WA’s chief executive officer, Dominique Mecoy, told the virtual boardroom that her main focus was helping their Alumni, program participants and other WA leaders navigate the virus’s many challenges. But she’s also keen to see the business sector lead the community’s recovery.
“There are going to be organisa- tions who are going to say: ‘As well as our survival, what can we do to rebuild our community? What can we do to respond? What can we do to recover?’ That’s where I want Leader- ship WA to be, and that’s where I’m hoping a lot of other organisations can see themselves.”
The ultimate point of any long business lunch is to build relationships and foster cooperation. Summing up the virtual version of this business ritual, Mr Evans said Velrada is ready to help usher in the future of work today with innovative workplace solutions.
“Microsoft has opened up access to technology to small and mid tier organ- isations and we can certainly help with that, and those things are not expensive or time consuming and we can develop a lot to enable the mid-tier.
We’ve packaged out some of that IP and knowledge that we can share and I think for the long term, I’m optimistic.”
Seeking ways to use technology to improve your business performance? For more information call 1300 835 723 or visit www.velrada.com