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Janice Thompson, Vice President of Supplier Services at ScanSource

How Microsoft is Supporting our New Normal

With COVID-19, the amount of people working from home has increased exponentially. I recently chatted with Mike Karban—Microsoft’s Senior Partner Technology Strategist—about how they’ve acclimated to our new normal, enabling people (including many of their own employees) to work remotely.

Here are some brief highlights of what we talked about. To gain deeper insight, click the link at the end of this blog to hear the full interview.

Tell us a little more about Microsoft and the solutions you provide.
The Microsoft mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. We do this by focusing on six core solution areas. There’s gaming and modern life—which are the consumer-facing areas—and on the business side, we have modern workplace, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and AI. These solutions are the ingredients that help our customers achieve their digital business outcomes, including empowering employees, engaging customers, optimizing operations, and transforming products and services.

What resources do you offer that will help customers stay connected while working remotely?

We think about how we can help in two ways—helping people stay productive when working from home while helping our customers secure their digital estate and devices. We enable employees to meet and collaborate from home, driving engagement through virtual events and communications, making productivity applications available on any device, and delivering the best virtual desktop experience.

We do that mainly with Microsoft Teams, a hub for teamwork in Microsoft 365 that keeps everything a team needs in one place. That could include online meetings with video and screen sharing, chat and collaboration with the Office 365 applications, or full customization with the ability to create and integrate apps and workflows. On top of that, security and compliance is fundamental. There are privacy and security controls for video conferencing, so data is protected against cybersecurity threats.

How have you empowered your own employees to succeed while working remotely?
We’ve done a few things. Simplicity is key. For example, we have a bring-your-own-device set-up, so whether you use Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android, you can enroll it through a self-service feature. On the productivity side, we can create our own teams, add channels, and invite everyone to add content—all without having to reach out to IT.  

Microsoft is also offering 12 weeks of paid parental leave due to school interruptions, and we’ve also conducted virtual happy hours, coffees, and meditation sessions to offer a break from the workload.

What have you learned from the recent COVID-19 pandemic? And, how are you putting those insights to work for your customers and employees?
We’ve learned a lot from our customers and partners. I recommend you check out our Microsoft 365 blog. There are lots of articles including some remote work lessons from our colleagues in China, how we enabled 2,000 Microsoft store employees to work remotely, and tips for working from home with children. We even have channels and blogs that give employees a place to disconnect, including a channel where people post photos of their home workstations and make recommendations about the best headsets, desks, and cameras.

What one device could you not live without during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I would definitely say my Surface Book 2. As long as I have an internet connection, I can make video calls for work or just catch up with my family and friends. I also have my music, video streaming, and social media. That device just brings everything to me.

Do you have anything else to add while we’re talking about working remotely?

I have some advice for the people who are new to working from home. I’ve worked from home for more than five years, and working remotely due to the pandemic is much different from the normal work-from-home life. Normally, you can go out to the gym or to dinner at the end of the day. Thanks to COVID-19, we’re obviously more isolated, and some may not have access to the right equipment. It’s hard to tell how long we’ll be sheltering in-place, so many put off investing in upgrades to home offices—such as a new chair that will alleviate back pain or a good headset that allows for walking around the house.

There are also a lot of articles and opinions out there that could fundamentally change how some companies move forward. Thanks to the pandemic, many may see that employees can work from home and still be productive, but businesses are going to have to consider how to sustainably support their workers if they wish to make it permanent.

Thank you Mike, we really appreciate you joining us today. Partners, if you have any questions about enabling your customers to work remotely, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your ScanSource account manager.  We invite you to watch the entire video interview with him. Stay well everyone!