After a year of lockdown, housing providers need to adopt the mindset of a start-up, being more open to change and doing things differently. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, customer experience and people working from home; these shifts were happening already but they are now essential to move forward in the modern world and life after lockdown.
Start-ups leading the way
Housing providers are often dictated by formal hierarchies, boundaries and processes. However, you need to recognise that if you don’t press the ‘reset’ button to behave like a start-up then your organisation will suffer as a result. Now’s the time to be agile and adapt your strategy and culture to respond to the changing environment.
Back to the drawing board
A survey conducted by Futurum Research in Europe and North America found that 57 per cent of organisations said their entire business model needed to be reconsidered in the wake of coronavirus.
During the past year, much has changed in how we work, how we do business, deal with customers, partners and suppliers, and maybe even adapt the products and services we offer and internal and external processes. It’s time to take stock and evaluate what has and hasn’t worked.
Disrupt and innovate
Housing providers have discovered that digital transformations don’t have to be long, cumbersome processes; they can be designed and implemented at speed. Housing providers must continue to be agile and flexible and not return to a fixed mindset of being stuck in their ways in order to not only survive the aftermath of lockdown but to thrive.
The hybrid challenge
A CIPD and YouGov survey in March 2021 found that 40 per cent of employers said they expected more than half of their workforces to regularly work from home after the pandemic has ended.
Housing providers therefore need to focus on how to optimise their remote workforces and confront the challenge of implementing and managing hybrid working, itself calling for new management skills.
IP all the way
There will be a big digital shift in 2025 when businesses will have to transition from ISDN to IP. While the transition has been accelerated due to the pandemic, housing providers that still have legacy, on-premise PBX technology should be thinking about migrating to IP sooner rather than later in order to be prepared.
Hosted in the cloud
By moving to cloud-based telephony, housing providers will be able to scale up and down, facilitate the management of communications, save money and gain the flexibility to add new technologies and business applications when required. Cloud solutions also deliver detailed analytics on data usage which can be used for better decision-making and adding value and intelligence to all of their interactions and communications with staff and customers alike.
Seamless unified communications
Housing providers then need to consider their unified communications (UC) plan. Is your current UC solution delivering exactly what you need to work from anywhere? This is an importance step up, moving from quickly implementing a remote working solution to transitioning to a comprehensive UC solution enabling employees to communicate and collaborate with each other while ensuring that it’s integrated to your front- and back-office applications to deliver seamless communications, operational processes and customer experience.
Data insights equal power
Housing providers all have silos of data that is being collected constantly by different systems. To progress and improve, the data needs to be aggregated into a single platform and used to understand more about tenants and enabling processes to be redesigned. Data insight is becoming increasingly key to making important decisions and improving tenants’ services.
Improve with automation
Automation solutions can be designed to handle a multitude of digital interactions, such as self-service, web chat and artificial intelligence for tenant enquiries, with the latter reducing the average ‘cost to serve’ from £4 per phone call to just 20p.
A new world
We hope and believe that when lockdown lifts, housing providers will embrace a new culture where creativity, innovation and shared ideas are welcome. Employers and employees will operate in a transparent environment where no one is scared to fail; after all, if we don’t fail then how will we evolve?
Above all, the pandemic has taught us the importance of being agile and accepting change, and that we need to keep moving, not stand still.
Jonathan Sharp is a director of Britannic Technologies.