If “necessity is the mother of invention” then the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced people around the world to rethink their daily lives in regards to work, education, and entertainment. Many people have turned to digital tools to keep some semblance of normality, where it’s been imperative to digitally transform places of work and education to continue to operate effectively. It is the companies that have embraced technology in order to keep moving forward and rethink their business model for the future, by fast-tracking digital transformation, that will stay ahead of their competition.
Ability to Work from Home
According to multiple surveys, only a small percentage of employees worked from home prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the ability to work from home is a benefit many employees value, most companies lack the technological infrastructure to offer that capability without some sacrifices to “business as usual (BAU)” operations.
While some companies will eventually go back to rigid work-from-office policies, it’s expected that others have come to realize the benefits to employees, as well as to the business, of a work-from-home strategy implemented effectively. If nothing else, companies have obtained valuable experience on how to accommodate work-from-home needs and effectively manage remote teams; so that they are prepared to maintain business continuity in the event of another outbreak or other major disruption to their business in the future.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, many educational institutions and enrichment centres had no choice but to conduct their classes via online learning. However, the major challenge for these institutions and organizations is that they were poorly equipped to migrate to online classes on such short notice.
This urgent transition to digital education required administrators and teachers to ensure that their students had the necessary access to the technology and tools required to effectively learn from home. While being a highly disruptive experience, both educators and educational institutions are now much better prepared for the future.
Remote working—and learning—is easier for those with cloud meeting and team collaboration tools such as Tencent’s WeChat Work or Alibaba-owned DingTalk. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many technology companies are rolling out tools that can support companies and organizations when working remotely with extended free-trial periods or for lower fees. Here are a few examples:
• Google is allowing free access to advanced features (that normally have a fee every month) for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite Education customers for several months.
• Microsoft offered a free six-month trial of its top tier plan of Microsoft Teams to enable schools, hospitals, and businesses in China to keep operating even with the restrictions of the Coronavirus.
• U.S.-based video-conferencing provider Zoom saw its stock price rise during the crisis, with people clearly seeing the value of remote-working tools. Zoom lifted the 40-minute limit from its free Basic Plan for China when the Coronavirus hit the country. Doctors in China from more than 1,000 hospitals used the service for online consultations.
• LogMeIn is offering healthcare providers, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations free access to its video conferencing tools, including GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar.
• Cisco is fortifying its Webex tool to properly support companies during the Covid-19 pandemic in the 44 countries its available, including offering 24/7 assistance for businesses using the tool.