COLORADO SPRINGS — Operating under the stay-at-home order has forced many businesses to work from home. The experience may lead to some changes in how businesses proceed once the public health restrictions are lifted. News5 took a closer look at what industries may make the switch to a remote model after COVID-19.
Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center Traci Marques said each business will have to decide what makes the most sense for them in the long run. "Really being creative and innovative of how we do business, and I don't think that's going to change once we go back into the office," said Marques.
Marques said the Information Technology industry, or IT, has had success working from home. She also said there are some incentives to keeping employees home, if they are just as productive as in the workplace. "Cost savings of working from home. You have your overhead, you have your rent, and your equipment and that type of thing that you have with your own office building. If you're working from home, you don't have those costs associated with it," said Marques.
Another expert on local businesses is Aikta Marcoulier, the executive director of the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center. Marcoulier also said jobs in online sales, the financial industry, and marketing companies have made a smooth transition into remote working. "We will never go back to the same thing again... We have all learned that we are more than capable of doing business in ways that we've never thought before," said Marcoulier.
News5 also spoke with Marissa Ferl, who has owned Resonate Music Therapy for around four years. Ferl said it's difficult to sum up what an average day for a music therapist looks like, because they work with a wide variety of people. They use music to achieve physical, emotional, and cognitive goals. "For example, I might be working with a kid who needs to build finger strength in order to hold a pencil at school... Anything where the music intervention is structured to allow the client to reach the non-musical goal," said Ferl.
Ferl said her caseload is predominantly children who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. Typically, she would see around 90 clients a week, but that has decreased by about 50% since switching to a telehealth model. Still, she said those who are still participating have access to technology and are creatively finding things to use as their instruments. "I was pretty shocked, we actually do have clients that have done better online... There's a lot of hoops to jump through, but seeing that it actually can work really well for some clients, we'll definitely keep doing telehealth sessions," said Ferl.
Ferl said after the virus is over, Resonate Music Therapy will continue telehealth services for those clients who prefer it. They will also still provide their services at the clinic, and on home visits.
Meanwhile, for businesses that have decided to continue working from home, there are companies that can help ensure it is done safely. One of those is Firma IT Solutions, which manages IT and cybersecurity for small businesses in the community. "Folks are now wanting to work from home, and there's a huge risk at taking your business operations to your house... You got your kids playing games on the same network you're trying to process your taxes, probably not very safe," said the Owner of Firma IT Solutions, Rodney Gullatte.
Gullatte said this time staying at home will alter the way businesses function. "A gamechanging trend. A lot of people were forced to do the whole remote work thing now, they had to let people go and work as efficient as possible, to cut down on the spread of this virus and when things go back to normal, they're not going to bring all those people back. If you can be productive and work away from people, they'll probably have you do that from now on," said Gullatte.
Which is why Gullatte wants to make sure businesses realize they could be the subject of a cyber attack. He has several tips for those considering making the change permanent. "If you as a business purchase the laptop that you give to your employees, you could control that laptop 100%... I've also been encouraging people to use the hotspots in their phones, or the jetpacks, or the mobile Wi-Fi devices that come with the cellular companies. If you can't figure out how to separate your network at home, use one of those things when you're doing your work, so that it's not on the same network as all the craziness that's going on in your house," said Gullatte.
Gullatte also has informational videos posted on his website, which can be found here.