While there's still much left to play out in the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is clear: connections matter more than ever. Social distancing has presented businesses with extreme change, and it's redefining how they operate in the #neweconomy. Mitel CMO David Silke (@DaveSilke) discussed in our latest Twitter #MitelChats what he's been seeing and some steps he anticipates businesses will be taking in the near future.

What are the business impacts across industry sectors?

The impact to everyone, including businesses, has been significant. However, the specific effect on individual sectors varies tremendously. Dave expressed that in the weeks following the pandemic outbreak, Mitel has spent a lot of time talking to customers and partners, coming alongside them as they face different degrees of challenge.

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Although the impact differs across each sector, common to all is the need to find new ways to connect. #MitelChats participants said social distancing has made people more comfortable with video conferencing and team collaboration, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings. It has also forced businesses to find leaner ways to operate and made remote working an essential part of work culture.

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As part of this shift, contact center has taken a greater role—and will continue to offer an avenue for enabling greater customer interaction remotely.

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How has Mitel managed through COVID-19?

As with many businesses, Mitel’s initial response was to ensure the safety of its employees—and that involved sending everyone home. Although Mitel is well accustomed to remote work, making it an exclusive practice for the entire workforce was new territory and required some getting used to. But, once that was underway, Mitel focused on its partners and customers, shifting quickly into a four-phase approach to business continuity.

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How are businesses and people adapting and finding ways to move forward?

When the outbreak hit, Mitel initially focused on getting everyone home and on collaboration tools so they could connect to each other and the business seamlessly. With many other organizations taking the same approach, the workplace is rapidly morphing into one that embraces remote working. Olive Communications (@olivecomms) said it expects many businesses won't want to leave this behind once COVID-19 is behind them.

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The greatest lesson coming out of the pandemic seems to be a stronger focus on people. Work-life balance is paramount as individuals are forced to blend these two worlds intrinsically under one roof. And the result is the requirement for a dynamic work ecosystem that supports the array of different needs found within a given workforce. Businesses are having to rethink workforce planning, accounting first and foremost for the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and customers.

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The business transformation has already started to encompass contact center as a remote hub, and businesses are seeing immediate benefits.

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As we move into this recovery period, what technologies hold the most promise enabling businesses to reinvent themselves?

People are now becoming more comfortable with digital methods of communicating and interacting. Things like video calls, online learning and online shopping are likely to continue post-COVID-19. Dave says for this reason, any business technology that supports the "immediate and longer needs of the hybrid worker" hold the most promise.

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The right communications and collaboration solutions will hold significant importance in how a business reinvents itself. For example, some businesses are falling back to tried and true methods like voice. With others, creativity will play a critical role in the success of anything post-COVID-19. Dave says a blend of the two could see the traditional paired with the new and innovative, offering "some brilliant solutions" where "immersive interactions are likely to merge with virtual reality"..

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Cloud contact center and scalable services are also already making a difference.

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What steps can businesses take today?

As Dave says, the first steps have already been taken: lead the people to safety and productivity. From there it will be to better understand the business needs based on a market in flux.

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In a time when the initial shock of emergency has passed and people are starting to find the new normal, Olive Communications says it's a good idea evaluate what has and hasn't worked.

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Wherever in the process your business is, there's strength in learning from each other. Not one business has done this before, so your trials and triumphs can be helpful and inspiring to your peers.

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Keep the conversation going and check back for more great Mitel Twitter conversations coming up.

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