“In order to change an existing imagined order, we must first believe in an alternative imagined order.” ― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
As the outbreak of a deadly CoVID 19 continues in several countries, only an alternative strategy of collaboration can accelerate the rattled productivity and efficiency of the global workforce. Existing order of collaboration, where face to face mode of collaboration dominates and still remains a favourite, needs to be re-imagined. Companies must adopt to an alternative imagined platforms during such unprecendeted times to keep teams connected while they work apart. Within days of the outbreak, global companies started proactively allowing their employees to work from home (WFH) to protect them and their customers from the disease. The WFH model is not new to the industry, nor is virtual collaboration. However, this sudden increase in remote access to collaboration and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms is certainly new.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) says that people working from home are not only more productive, but they’re also happier in their jobs.While this is an accurate estimate, the present situation is different. Under usual circumstances, the want to work from home or even go to an office is a matter of choice. COVID-19 has taken away our ability to choose, making work from home an essential one.
Imagining an Alternative Order of Virtual Collaboration
What is that alternative imagined order of virtual collaboration? An enterprise should factor in the following points to formulate an effective strategy of virtual collaboration:
- Onboarding and adoption of a digital engagement hub (Microsoft Teams, WebEx Teams, etc.) to enable virtual collaboration
- Drafting and implementing the right policies to monitor conduct; publish do’s and don’ts to the workforce as it’s easier to get lost in the chaos of UCaaS products
- Changing the strategy to focus more on remote workers; adoption materials prepared for the canteens and the boardrooms would be less useful
- Implementing relevant ethical and information barriers for remote workers to ensure security and compliance at the virtual workplace
- Integrate applications such as notes and planners, among others, in the collaboration software UI to assign and track tasks effectively
- Ensuring access to only certified headsets and cameras; nothing discourages employees for virtual collaboration as much as choppy voice or laggy video
- Invest on bots armed with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and NLP, which significantly improves the user experience during virtual collaboration
- Leveraging a cloud infrastructure (UCaaS) to meet the requirement in such scenarios
- One all-inclusive collaboration software may not be the best fit to enable remote workers. In many cases, opting for the-best-of-the-breed collaboration software instead of an all-inclusive suite to empower remote users with the best of the virtual collaboration experience
UCaaS through the Lens of HCL
The world of collaboration platforms has evolved a lot in the last decade, and it continues to change rapidly. It has witnessed a transition from the era of PBX-only deployments to the era of converged digital engagement hubs comprising Microsoft Teams or WebEx Teams. Visual communication and collaboration is rapidly becoming the new norm as the workforce evolves, prioritizing mobility and flexibility for both employees and customers who can now instantly connect face-to-face irrespective of their location.
“A vast number of employees have gone remote. We are expecting a fundamental shift in work. A virtual workplace is no more an optional space. We, at HCL Technologies, are best prepared with a cloud-first vision and a reimagined operating model to support our customers globally.”
Rakshit Ghura - Vice President & Global Service Leader – Digital Workplace Services
Microsoft Teams Empowers HCL Employees to Work Remotely
With concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, we are leveraging the excellent video and audio quality of Microsoft Teams to schedule meetings from home and on-the-go. Teams is connecting our employees seamlessly and securely, regardless of where they are. Overall, our experience and usage have increased significantly by leveraging cloud infrastructure.
“Teams is now our virtual office, which we can take anywhere we go. Working remotely is already a new normal. HCL Technologies has a decisive vision to empower remote workers as much as possible.”
Ashu Kakkar - Vice President (Information Technology) at HCL Technologies
Response of Major OEMs During This Epidemic
Major OEMs, providing unified communications services, have demonstrated quite an empathetic approach by providing their cloud-based services free of cost to individuals and enterprises. Let’s look at some of the related announcements made recently.
- Microsoft's commitment to customers during COVID-19
- Cisco WebEx Available Free in These Countries during COVID -19
- Zoom is Giving K-12 Schools Videoconferencing Tools For Free
- Google: Helping stay connected in response to Coronavirus
- AudioCodes Provides Free Session Border Controller Licenses During CoVID
It's a delight to see the commitment to support customers during this challenging time. This, of course, needed agile and scalable platforms to meet such a surge at such a time. Fortunately, it's feasible due to the current state of cloud infrastructure maturity, which continues to support increased demand for collaboration services. This ensures streamlined and reliable access to services throughout this period. That’s one more reason why an enterprise should adopt cloud-first collaborative strategies at the earliest.