2020 is not a year most of us want to remember or dwell on, but there’s no question it was an interesting one. For me, it wasn’t fear of the virus or stress about the business that kept me up at night. The hardest part was the impact on our people.  

Building a strong, united team who love what they do and enjoy coming to work every day has always been a part of our vision. I think we’ve stayed true to that, but it’s a work in progress. No two people are alike. It takes patience, compassion and understanding as leaders to make sure people feel supported and that their work is relevant. That’s what we strive towards at Ignite.  

Caring for the team translates to caring for customers 

We’re in the business of collaboration technology A lot of our team works remotely most of the time  so, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was an easy decision to shut down our offices and get everyone working from home. Building connections through technology is at the forefront of the business. It’s second nature to us, so we knew what to do. 

Over time though, as things dragged on, it became clear that people were missing those social connections and having a hard time dealing with isolation. This worried me. Even though the business was doing well, and everyone was healthy and safe, I knew we had to focus on our people if we were going to make it through unscathed. What this really translated to was caring for our team so that we could care for our customers. It was a “people first” approach 

Many companies had to try and scale quickly from a partially remote to a fully remote workforce, and some hadn’t even started the process of ‘work from home’ (WFH) within their organizations at all. Working with our customers to meet these challenges gave our team a sense of meaning and accomplishment during extremely difficult times. They launched into action quickly to support our customers. They ensured that, when onsite work could resume, we were ready with proper safety protocols from province to province. And when we had to stay apart socially, they looked after each other and checked in on one another. 

Although the AV side of our business had to be put on hold, the increased need for WFH collaboration tools and enhanced cyber security kept us moving forward. We knew what to do, and that allowed us to help our customers figure out what to do.   

The level of talent and commitment amongst the team became our best asset. For better or worse, the pandemic propelled collaboration technology forward. We were fortunate to be able to help our clients move quickly into a reliable, remote work environment. 

I can’t overstate how proud I am of the people that work hard every day to make Ignite what it is. It wasn’t always fun, and it wasn’t always easy, but together as a team we made it. Ignite managed not only to survive 2020 – we thrived.  

Are the days of sitting in an office cubicle 40 hours a week over? 

Yes and no. What we saw in 2020 were organizations scrambling to adapt to an evolving situation with many unknowns. We were all forced to manage things “day-to-day” and make decisions quickly, sometimes without all the information. It was like any crisis: you do what needs to be done because you don’t have a choice. Companies set their people up for remote work because they had to.  

What we’ve learned from the pandemic is that humans are a social species, and we need those connections. People need a place to work that isn’t their kitchen table or their bedroom nightstand, so most organizations are still going to need some sort of physical space. What’s going to change is how workspaces, and even management styles, shift to accommodate a vision that’s not cubicle upon cubicle upon cubicle. Having every employee sit at a desk in an office 100% of the time – those days are probably over.  

Now that companies are settling into this new normal, 2021 will be a time to take a step back and reassess their remote work strategy. The solutions they implemented on day one need to be revisited, refined and optimized for today’s reality.  

We expect to see the traditional workplace transform into multi-use spaces that are more open and flexible, and no doubt some of the workforce will stay home permanently. This new reality presents new challenges — and really, a culture shift — for technology leaders as well as operational leaders. Cyber -security needs will be different, for example. New strategies will be needed for things like onboarding and requisitioning equipment. And, a new kind of leader will emerge: one who understands that, with the right infrastructure, teams can be remote and be productive without a watchful eye.  

Video collaboration technologies will play a huge role in keeping people connected. Technology will have to keep pace with these changing needs. Our customers rely on us to deliver technology that is always available and easy to use with a high-quality experience – on top of that, we need to provide solutions that are secure for onsite as well as remote use.  

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear…..IoT devices?   

When we see gaps or unmet needs, we ask ourselves what technology can do to help solve these problems. And then we look for answers. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on how to incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) technologies into our existing collaboration and security frameworks. We’ve gained some traction, and this year we plan to launch a pilot program that integrates IoT sensors with small to mediumenterprise equipment fleets. With our expertise in unified communications, technology adoption, data security, and analytics, IoT brings these worlds together into a unique value proposition for small and medium-sized operations looking for ways to streamline and become more efficient. Stay tuned for more on this as the year progresses 

In 2021, Ignite will continue to focus on the things we know are important to our customers: reliable technology solutions that deliver quality collaboration experiences in a cyber-secure environment. We’ll continue to build and strengthen relationships with our customers by listening to their needs and understanding their pain points. Services like Ignite Care and Ignite Adoption will ensure our customers have access to solutions that add value and maximize return on investment.  

We all woke up on January 1st feeling a little lighter. Hope is in the air. The vaccine is rolling out, and the end’s almost in sight. Even as restrictions and lockdown measures continue, we’re no longer groping around in the dark trying to find our way – we’ve been through it now a couple of times, and we’ve figured out how to adapt. As the new workplace evolves and new leaders emerge, Ignite will keep working towards our vision to put people first.    

~ Steven Taylor, President & CEO, Ignite Collaboration