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InfoDeskApr 1, 20206 min read

Maintaining your information highways to cope with remote working in a time of crisis

With the unexpected arrival and upgrade to pandemic status of COVID-19, a lot of us, globally, have had to adapt to working from home for the foreseeable future in a very short space of time. 

Working from home full-time is not easy (at least, when you’re not expecting it) and brings with it a lot of challenges, from the simplest: there may be no printer at home, you have no set office space, there’s no stationary; to the ergonomic challenges: the chairs at home aren’t designed to be sat on for hours upon hours, you only have a single monitor to work from, the dining room table is a poor substitute for your office desk. And last, but certainly not least, the attention-span challenges; your house is now a shared workspace for you and all of your housemates, you need to manage the kids while trying to work, the constant noise of the internet and news updates distracting you from your task. And on, and on… we know, you’re probably familiar with them all by now.

But, after a few weeks, the shock wears off, this starts to become the new norm, and you adapt and find the strategies right for you to manage all of the quirks that come with working from home. Suddenly, you realize that what you once thought were the greatest hurdles to your continued productivity, are actually rather trivial. It’s not the lack of a home-printer or the kids distracting you that really matters, it’s the fundamental flaws in your information infrastructure. Staying connected, being able to share information, and maintaining the ability to collaborate –  these are the things that really matter and are now more crucial than ever.

At InfoDesk, we’ve spent the past 20 years building solutions that enable users to stay connected to the insights that matter, wherever they are in the world. We thought we’d share our 3 top tips on information best practices, that you can implement today – perhaps when you need it most:

1 – Connecting your team to the right information, not all the information

Information is critical in this trying time. The problem is that the breadth and velocity of information can easily become overwhelming. COVID-19 and it’s other moniker, Coronavirus, have been mentioned 2.1 billion times (as of March 13th, 2020). Its next closest rival is HIV with 69.5 million mentions… HIV has been in the common lexicon since 1986! We don’t call this the “information age” for nothing.

In a recent blog, we talked about the difficulties faced by Competitive Intelligence teams in this world of information – but it isn’t by any means a problem faced solely by them. Most facets of business are affected by information overload, the cost of which can be much greater than you might think.

Information overload is universally overwhelming and never has that been more true than when facing an unprecedented global crisis like we are today. With information evolving so rapidly, it is now harder than ever to cut through the noise to the critical information you need. The best response is a combination of technology and human expertise that we, at InfoDesk, refer to as Semi-Supervised Artificial Intelligence (AI). This brings together the latest in AI and Machine Learning (ML) to handle the breadth and velocity of information, with the best of human expertise to draw out the insights critical to your end-users, and delivers these in a way that suits their individual workflows; providing the right information, not all the information

2 – Making sure that valuable insights get to the right person on time

Over the past few weeks, as we’ve all been getting to grips with our new working conditions, a lot of our clients have been talking to us about the need to make informed decisions efficiently – now more than ever. From senior executives through to junior staff, each has a varied and disparate set of information sources critical to their workflow. The challenge is ensuring that your information infrastructure, that is crucial to your ability to make decisions, doesn’t become inefficient in a remote working environment.

Think of all the information sources you utilize daily – internal SharePoint, email, company servers, news sites, internal newsletters, websites, online journals, premium subscription content, the list goes on. How do you ensure your team can access all of these information sources in a manner that suits their workflow?

By bringing all of your information sources into a single location that is globally accessible, your team can ensure they have the information they need, when they need it. The second facet is distribution methods; each of the aforementioned personas has a different level of information granularity required to meet their objectives. While an analyst is seeking raw data and ‘unpasteurized’ information, a C-Suite executive needs to find out the crux of the information in as short a time as possible. This combination of information centralization and a range of appropriate distribution tools is the key to ensuring that your entire organization can operate effectively, particularly when working in a remote environment.

3 – Collaboration is critical (and so are the tools that enable it)

Collaboration is one of the single most valuable processes that can be encouraged by organizations. It is much more difficult to encourage and facilitate collaboration virtually, but it is by no means impossible. At InfoDesk we operate globally, and oftentimes remotely, so have built up a whole arsenal of tools and techniques that we use to encourage and nurture our collaborative spirit, team culture, and internal relationships. We’ve shared them below to give you some inspiration:

  1. Google Drive 
    • The ultimate in remote document collaboration.
  1. Google Hangouts
    • Another of Google’s tools – but probably the most crucial. Because of Hangouts we’ve all been introduced to the insides of our colleagues’ homes…
  1. Lunch and learns
    • Just because we’re apart doesn’t mean we can’t help educate one another!
  1. Virtual workouts, quizzes, meditation, games, and more
    • Trust us, they’re just as entertaining as their face-to-face equivalents.
  1. Coffee calls
    • It’s not like you really need a cafe anyway!
  1. Internal sharepoint 
    • From company updates, to educational resources, to the latest news, to the funniest office photo
  1. ICAP
    • Or “InfoDesk current awareness platform”, is an example of one of our InfoWatch platforms, providing our team with up to date news on clients, competitors, industries, and much more!

This is by no means an exhaustive list (and we’d love to hear any other tools or techniques you have found useful) but they are great ways of enabling a collaborative spirit, particularly in a time when we all need a little more support to stay sane.

A note from the team

This crisis has highlighted a growing need for organizations to have effective information infrastructure in place, to not only respond to times like this, but to future-proof their business for the changing face of the workplace. 

For us, enabling organizations to achieve their potential has been a key motivator. We know that right now organizations are entering unknown and uncomfortable territory and that we need to do our utmost to support them through this trying time. To help, we’ve deployed our experienced editorial team to produce a twice-weekly update on key insights and learnings from the COVID19 pandemic so that we can all start finding some comfort in information again.

This is available for free to anybody who would like it so if this is something that you would value during this trying time then please click here and we will include you in the distribution too. 

And if you want to talk to the team about your information journey, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.