Social Distancing or Physical Distancing? How ScanSource Employees Continue to Communicate and Collaborate Effectively
Relatively new to our daily lexicon, the term “social distancing” has already developed a bit of a negative connotation – one that conjures images of loneliness and isolation. Of course, when it comes to doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve, it’s important to stay at home, when possible, and maintain a distance of at least six feet if in public. But if the last month has proven anything, it’s that socializing and following safety guidelines are not mutually exclusive. Thanks to the widespread adoption of unified communications solutions, many of us are collaborating more than ever, just remotely. We’re swapping out in-person meetings for video calls and rely on cloud-based platforms to provide alternatives to in-person meetings. Given this new level of virtual connection, perhaps the more appropriate terminology is not “social distancing,” but “physical distancing”.
Physical distancing acknowledges the need to follow safety guidelines without implying isolation. On March 15, when ScanSource and our employees went fully remote, we knew the importance of combatting isolation and staying connected – both from a business standpoint and a mental health perspective. As we entered somewhat uncharted waters, we understood we would need to over communicate as a leadership team to make sure our employees were updated regularly, felt safe and productive, and could work seamlessly – even in their homes. We also knew our IT and infrastructure teams would be all hands on deck, making sure our employees had the secure, efficient access they needed to their files and our network. Now, an average of over 1,600 users a day log into our virtual private network (VPN) and over 300 log into Citrix to access additional systems. This has allowed us to route only the needed traffic back to our data centers, making us more efficient without compromising connectivity.
Another way employees are staying engaged is through the use of collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom Meetings. ScanSource employees on Microsoft Teams have averaged a staggering 2,300 channel messages, 151,000 chat messages, 2,932 calls and 734 meetings per day over the past few weeks. Similarly, our internal-facing employee Facebook group is surging in usage as people seek ways to replace the “water cooler conversations” and informal office huddles. Meanwhile, The Hub, as we call it, is our new learning platform that delivers a modernized, engaging, user experience plus a fun, social element. In the month since we started working remotely, there have been 1,522 unique users accessing The Hub – 811 of whom were first-time visitors. On average, we’re seeing 3.57 visits per user, demonstrating a hunger for remote engagement and learning opportunities that our human resources team is making available through the platform.
Providing ways to maintain, and even elevate, your company’s level of interaction is crucial during this time. It’s not just to provide a sense of normalcy and keep business moving, but it helps us to foster transparency and express appreciation. Some of the hardest workers in our company right now are those at our distribution centers, which are still operating full throttle. Each day, they’re ensuring our partners have the solutions they need to help their end users. Creating special campaigns, posting to Facebook groups, and sending personalized messages to our teams helps remind them of how appreciated and valuable they are – something all employees need to hear in times like these, even if we can’t thank them in person.
It's impossible to say what the future holds in terms of the future of work and remote working, but today’s collaboration tools have provided ways for us to stay connected that we never had before. And as ironic as it seems, physical distancing has in some ways brought us closer. It’s a great reminder that working and living remotely doesn’t need to go hand-in-hand with social isolation. Instead, it’s a prime opportunity to reach out to friends, family, coworkers and neighbors and remind them you’re just a screen away.