As we deal with the impact of COVID-19 on our personal and professional lives, it has become clear that social distancing guidelines may continue to affect how we live and work for some time. No one really knows how long this will last and it's obvious that adjustments will have to be made to protect ourselves as we try to get back to something that resembles normal.
On April 13, Mitel CEO Mary McDowell joined Dave Michels on the TalkingHeadz podcast to share her thoughts on Mitel's shift to a work-from-home operation, the Mitel team's experience working with other organizations making the same shift, and some of the ways Mitel is leveraging those experiences to ensure that what we offer is relevant to our customers' needs today and in the post-COVID future.
Firsthand Experience Provides Better Understanding
The single fact that keeps Mitel employees focused, Mary said, is that we are all struggling through this together. No matter where in the world we are and what our role, status, or age, we are living through a shared experience, whether country to country, region to region, or sector to sector. And in both personal and business interactions, people are relying on technology to work from home and stay connected with friends, family, and co-workers.
"At Mitel, we've seen firsthand how important those connections are," Mary said. "Like everybody else, we saw the first signs of the effects of the virus in Asia. We moved immediately to secure the health and safety of our employees in that region and lock down our supply chains. As the virus spread to Europe, the Middle East, and into the U.S., we were able to shift more of our employees to work from home.
"In some ways, the transition was easy for us because we have excellent remote working tools and we have a work-from-home orientation for many of our employees. But, the biggest shift for us was to make working from home the default for everyone. That was a little more challenging for our call center employees, for example, who were not set up to work that way before the pandemic. But we were able to make that transition work for them as well."
Ultimately, Mitel's experience making that shift provided more reference points to work with as it looked at what businesses need to adjust their operations to the current situation. Like many tech companies, Mitel received requests from organizations that had to make that transition overnight.
"The main challenge was how to equip employees who are used to going into the office every day so they can be successful at home," Mary noted. "We have helped a variety of organizations do that, from hospitals and first responders to schools. And even though there have been many challenges, we have been able to support them through the transition so that everyone has what they need to continue to be productive."
New Offerings for Today's Reality
Mary points to one of the first steps the company took to provide the tools organizations need to be successful. In April, Mitel introduced a video conferencing and collaboration solution to enable remote working and collaboration. MiTeam Meetings is now available for free on a 6-month trial.
Mitel also moved quickly to support customers who needed a quality cloud-based and secure business communications solution. New customers or existing customers who need to move to the cloud can make that transition for free until 2021 with the MiCloud Connect communication, collaboration, and contact center product.
"One thing that we have noticed with these and other offerings is that people are seeing that working from home has its advantages," Mary said. "Employees can be productive working this way. So, I believe we will see some companies make that shift permanent. They are going to choose to not have expensive office real estate and they are going to channel more investment into the tools that will enable remote workers to be productive."
One Mitel Moving Forward
For many people working from home now, life is a lot more intense, human connections are important, and sustaining those connections is an important part of every day. As we all move forward and adjust to the new blended lifestyle where productivity at home is normal, Mitel will continue to listen to its customers and provide the technology tools needed to connect, collaborate, and work with confidence.
"We recognize that our greatest strengths as a company are leveraged when we act as one," Mary says. "Mitel has a very broad portfolio, a very deep and rich installed base of customers across the globe, and services and capabilities that are going to be very relevant to the way people are going to want to work. We will continue to harness all those strengths through our One Mitel initiative to offer our customers and partners what they need as we all move into the post-COVID future."