When home is the new office: How business can keep operating in crisis times
We are living in unprecedented times, with workers across the UK and many other countries worldwide being urged to avoid non-essential travel and work from home where possible.
Home working is nothing new, of course. Its origins date from the 1980s and BBC 5 Live Wake Up To Money analysis reveals a 74% jump in the number of people working from their own home between 2008 and 2018.
At times of crisis, it has always been key that businesses have been able to keep up and running by ‘switching on’ homeworkers, using technology, online capability and cloud capability, and now the ability to provide real-time collaborative video connectivity is enriching the whole experience.
We have seen it with our clients at Enghouse, both in the context of video communications and remote access connectivity more generally. Our video collaboration software solution, Vidyo has, for example, been deployed within three health systems in Israel. One provider is delivering all its medical care through Vidyo in order to avoid exposing their staff to coronavirus patients that have been isolated in a special unit. In another case, a leading UK provider of clinical IT systems is using Vidyo to provide UK GP surgeries with video-conferencing capabilities for telehealth care.
When facing major disruption caused by a long spell of snow and ice, Futures Housing Group was, for example, able let its agents work from home without any disruption to its call centre. Added to that, homeworking specialist, Sensee has – with the help of our Contact Centre Service Provider solution – been able to make extensive use of home working agents and continue to operate its business during the current crisis.
Why video communications matter
Whatever the specific use case, it is clear the current scenario is placing a much greater emphasis on the need for home working than ever before and equally clear that video communications are enhancing the overall experience. If employees really want to get the most value from working remotely, they need to seriously consider video conferencing, which will offer them and the organisations they work for a wide range of benefits.
Now, with whole teams of workers working individually from their bedrooms, studies and dining areas, there is a greater call than ever for video meeting solutions that are affordable and simple to use, with these not only able to support remote workers but to also maintain a connected corporate culture.
If employees are to remain collaborative and committed in these difficult times, it is important that remote environments are able to seamlessly preserve the human element, while empowering an engaged workforce. Video is key to that.
Group video conferencing solutions can be very helpful in these scenarios, giving widely dispersed teams the space and tools they need for productive video collaboration, and enabling them to recreate the tone and feel of a board meeting or an informal team get together even if people are in reality dialling in from their lounge or reception area.
So while it is key to get the building blocks of corporate connectivity, it is also important to highlight that with the latest affordable and simple to use video meeting solutions in place, it’s easier than ever to support remote workers while maintaining a connected corporate culture.
That’s what the best video connectivity and meeting software delivers today, of course. Video should not just be for the ad hoc calls, important though they are, but it can become a core part of the meeting culture of businesses that are effectively all working from home. It has to be easy to use. It should be able to bring the whole organisation together for business-wide updates and allow companies to connect to partners, clients and customers
Tips and tricks
High-quality video communications has to be the end goal but it has to be delivered as part of a broader remote access strategy. Businesses should have thought through scenarios around team communication – regular get-togethers online or catch-up meetings are recommended. Team managers or leaders will have an even more crucial role to play in ensuring schedules are met.
Also, with home working becoming more prevalent today and likely to become increasingly so in the future, it is important that businesses and their employees are cognisant of the need for tight security. Before they even start, organisations and their staff need to get their Internet connection and security sorted. Hackers and fraudsters often see inexperienced home workers as a prime target.
To keep information secure, many businesses use a virtual private network (VPN). But when working from home, staff will still need to be certain that their home broadband provider allows them to connect to a VPN. Sometimes this varies between areas, packages and providers.
Businesses may also need to buy more licences or to expand capacity to accommodate the current increased demand. Whatever the choice taken, home workers should always be able to call on IT help and support.
Yet, important though these building blocks of connectivity are, in the current culture where people are being urged to isolate themselves, video is vital in being able to maintain that human connection with fellow workers; to gauge the mood and the tone of communication and to reach a stronger consensus on key issues of debate. Sometimes, it takes a significant jolt for businesses to change their approach for the better. At times of crisis, connectivity matter more than ever and video communications is the best way of delivering it.
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