I don’t think that we would have thought that a super virus would impact the world in the 21st century and perhaps show just how vulnerable we as humans still are -both as people that can perish as well as whole economies that can collapse with advent of Covid-19.
Globally, companies are trying to lessen the exposure to the business bottom-line while remaining aware of the human element and the need to remain operational. I admire companies that have long since been advocating teamwork remotely, like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Zoom, who I believe from the outset had intentions to improve humanity for the good of all.
Remote work is ‘trending’
I would like to focus on the tools that have been spoken about for years- let’s call it “through the age of mobility” – tools that have manifested themselves in the Cloud for the betterment of all.
The global trend towards remote work has been accelerated, as South Africa faces the consequences of a lockdown, companies across industry sectors, essential and non-essential alike, are urgently looking for ways to establish a remote working environment to remain operational and in touch with their employees.
My world has certainly changed from 27 March 2020.
Before lockdown, implementing a work week that included one day of working from home to catch up on administration, was a way to reduce interruptions and create a pocket of focus time to get to and complete open tasks that were deprioritised against the constant stream of questions, meetings and commentary I needed to deliver up and down stream. It was an extremely productive day.
Partly because of my new work week rhythm I instituted pre-lockdown, partly because I had used Teams while working remotely but, most importantly, because I could leverage software that was already included in the licenses we have for FREE since its preview release in November 2016.
Work from Home made easy
The prospect of working from home for the lockdown period was so exciting, I knew I could do more in less time, I could use the time saved to do even more, and that many individuals and organisations have realised the positive impact that it could have on output.
My assumptions were all wrong.
I assumed that since Teams was included in most Office 365 licenses, has been available for three and half years, that everyone knew what it was and at least how to use some of the functionality across the five core functions that combined Skype for Business and SharePoint such a long time ago and given the training and evangelisation available. I mean, I was already exploring the more complex extensions to the Teams product that could be beneficial and I was building out the solutions and user cases for meeting recordings, transcription and direct routing or cloud PBX as I call it.
Virtual interaction, refreshed
When I found organisations, employees and friends reaching out to try understand “remote working” and struggling to come to terms with this new concept of remote work I thought what an opportunity to help, I was not alone in my thoughts, Vox released additional internet access for working from home, Microsoft released a 6-month free trial license for Teams and we released a crisis communication management application (Engage) to help.
The impact of the pandemic been on remote working has seen Microsoft Teams grow from 32 million users to more than 75 million in a three-month period. Microsoft continues to add new features in Teams that make virtual interactions more natural, more engaging, and ultimately, more human.