i3 - September/October 2020 - 22
latest study a couple months ago, when
compared to its longitudinal reports from
recent years, shows the swift uptake of WFH
activity since the COVID-19 era began.
"More companies began equipping
employees with laptops with built-in security software, requiring and making sure the
computers are locked down and can only be
used for certain things," she says, noting that
often means the company computer can
only be used for business activities.
Ignoring such security risks is a "false
economy," Lister says. "Avoiding one security breach is worth however much you
have to pay for better equipment."
WHERE TO WORK
One surprise in the Global Workplace
Analytics study of WFH was the unexpected views of different age brackets.
Lister says that younger workers preferred
to come to an office, usually to socialize
with colleagues, while boomers "who are
more comfortable in their roles" liked to
stay home. "Being seen is more important
for the younger generation," Lister says.
Meanwhile, companies of all types are
discovering WFH solutions that fit into
their operations - although it may be
easier in some categories - and of course,
retail experts still prefer to engage customers on the sales floor.
Billy Brenner is sales and custom installation manager at Silica For Your Home, a
98-year old family-owned electronics,
appliance and furniture retailer. "When COVID swept the world,
we were able to remain open after we were deemed an essential
business with refrigeration, laundry and similar products,"
Brenner says, explaining that the stores immediately instituted the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention's sanitization and social
distancing guidelines. The company's first moves involved "communication
and awareness" projects to make its 130 staff members aware of the changing business procedures; those efforts were closely followed by "providing
masks, sanitizer and gloves in every department," Brenner adds.
The retailer, following the recommendation of its supplier Nationwide
Marketing Group, expanded its use of Podium, an interaction management
platform that can manage customer contacts and billing. Brenner says it provided "additional channels of communication and sales with our customers."
"This has opened up many sales opportunities that we may not have had
the ability to obtain previously," he says.
"Inventory management remains a major issue," says Brenner, citing the
need to keep in touch with distributors to assure a flow of "go-to items" that
customers want. He says that some categories have seen constrained inventory, often because of global production supply chains that have restricted
parts and component delivery.
Customers are using the COVID-19-induced time at home to have work
done at their houses, Brenner says. Keeping the contractor connections
has become even more vital - despite the occasional hiccups from inventory lapses.
Similarly, Schaefer's Inc., an electronics and appliance retailer in Lincoln,
NE, closed for about two weeks in April, continuing to sell products online
with a skeleton crew at the store handling customer calls and a small office
staff working limited hours, explains Ron Romero, president of the familyowned store. Schaefer's closed the 40,000 square foot showroom to protect
the staff, not because of local requirements.
"It gave us time to prepare our store, deep clean and repaint," Romero
says. It also protected the 70-member staff. One challenge initially was
getting maintenance supplies. During the interim, Romero focused on ways
to expand the store's e-commerce capability, which was already in place,
plus designing delivery tactics for its staff and contract employees.
"The biggest challenge was in delivery," says Romero, citing the need "to take
more precautions" when entering customers' homes. "They were very cautious"
on both ends - assuring that the staff was healthy and questioning customers
to make sure that delivery teams would not be at risk entering homes.
Romero, who is a director of the Nationwide Marketing Group, is satisfied that business is returning to "normal," but notes that many retailers
This and Previous Page: Gremlin/Getty Images
CTA's twice-yearly U.S. Consumer
Technology One-Year Industry
Forecast found spending on
streaming and software services
including audio, video and video
gaming have risen amid stay-athome orders, and are projected to
reach a record high of $86 billion in
2020 (14% growth over last year).
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N
9/1/20 10:30 AM
i3 - September/October 2020
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