As Strategic Sales Manager for IR, ASEAN, I’ve recently seen first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to evolve and impact the global workforce. With the number of cases of the COVID-19 outbreak still to reach a peak, more and more businesses are sending employees to work from home. And if they’re not already, they may not have a choice for much longer, with many governments mandating complete lockdowns, meaning travel to the physical workplace is no longer an option.
Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) technology is playing a vital role in supporting a worldwide Work From Home (WFH) operations strategy. Organizations large and small are now heavily relying on web conferencing, video calling and instant messaging platforms to efficiently and effectively communicate in the workplace. Indeed, the livelihood of many businesses and their employees is now fully dependent on WFH.
WFH – the new normal
In western countries, WFH is not new. Census data indicates that in 2017, 5.2% of U.S. workers and 8.3% of workers in the EU worked exclusively from home.
For some countries in the APAC region however, WFH is something of a shift.
Hyper-connected countries, like Hong Kong and Singapore, have the supporting IT communication, cybersecurity and cloud tech infrastructure in place to cope with the digital shift. But for other countries with less developed digital infrastructure this is proving to be a challenge.
How is the APAC region adapting?
With global emergency measures including the shift to working from home, many companies are now creating new UCC infrastructures. They are developing online office platforms and related training during this period, making them more likely to use such features in the future.
In major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, this mass experiment in working from home has led to a surge in demand for video-conferencing apps such as Tencent’s WeChat Work and Alibaba-owned DingTalk. US company Zoom, another video-conferencing provider, has seen its stocks rise, counter to overall trends as coronavirus fears continue to negatively affect the market.
As with the implementation of any new infrastructure, I’ve seen the benefits associated with WFH, and also plenty of challenges.
What challenges are organisations facing now due to the WFH perspective?
Problems with UC technology may not be resolved as quickly as they would in the office, and troubleshooting can be more difficult when it comes to Voice/Video/App sharing. The best way to overcome this connectivity challenge is to invest in reliable proactive monitoring tools.
There are challenges in both UC and CC space. Organizations that would never previously have been able to work remotely have been forced to make the change, for example, some of the local ministries have started moving their employees to WFH.
Contact Center agents are now also being enabled to work from home with secure VPN access back to corporate systems.
Of our current customers, almost 80% are moving to WFH. Many other enterprises are set to follow suit, closing their offices until further notice in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
How can our solutions help them now?
It’s now more important than ever that operations teams have the right tools and support to help them quickly expand their networks, fix problems and support remote workers.
Monitoring and troubleshooting is no longer a “nice to have” option – it’s vital to every UCC ecosystem. IT teams in every organizations need the ability to understand why users might be having a poor experience. They need at their disposal the capacity to derive actionable responses across all their communication and collaboration vendors.
Companies need complete, end-to-end visibility between Voice/Video/Apps sharing channels, which helps quickly resolve troubleshooting efforts.
IR understands the challenges and problems associated with adopting new UC ecosystems. We have been working closely with Microsoft and other leading UC and collaboration vendors to ensure a seamless, high-quality employee experience for everyone involved in the digital workplace.