Covid-19 Could Cause Permanent Shift Towards Working From Home
Posted on March 19, 2020
Tech companies are set to make a kill as others face a myriad of challenges especially where employees refuse to report back to the office and lean more towards working from home.
Coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19, is quickly redefining workplace patterns with a working from home policy as companies are compelled by the risks of the disease’s outbreak to have their employees work remotely but chances are rife that employees may fail to return to their workstations once the current restrictions are lifted.
The abrupt idea of working from home is presenting opportunities and problems alike. On the one hand, startups like Zoom and Slack and successful giant tech companies like Google and Microsoft are availing their tech tools for free, with the hope that new users during this time of crisis could choose to continue using these tools even after things go back to normalcy.
Moreover, some systems are on the verge of creaking as more and more corporate networks, previously unaccustomed to relying on virtual private networks (VPNs), are now experiencing unprecedented quirks as internet service providers are compelled to lift their bandwidth caps so as to enable employees working remotely not to get cut off from their employers before completing their assignments.
But as it is now, the situation may never go back to how it used to be—as most employees for companies that asked staff to work from home question why they had to work from their offices anyway.
Some of the biggest companies across the globe were the first to make the leap to remote working for all staff, utilising pre-existing infrastructure like chat groups, remote access to critical tools and the advantage that most knowledge-based work can be done remotely.
First Companies To Work From Home
In Seattle, the epicentre of the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19, companies like Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Google asked their employees to stop coming to the offices immediately after the outbreak in late February. Earlier this month, Twitter “strongly advised” its employees globally to follow suit, and come Wednesday, it made it mandatory.
“We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times,” Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of HR stated in a message to staff.
Christie added that the company would reimburse their workers including those working on an hourly basis, for all expenses incurred in setting up home offices including purchasing necessary equipment like desks, computer hardware and ergonomic chairs.
“Overall, working from home doesn’t change your day-to-day work, it just means you’ll be doing it from a different environment,” Christie added.
Another close business owner that I have known most of my life operates out of Seattle and he two has begun to adopt new technology to help drive his service based business through these difficult times.
It's not impossible to adapt. Our network of clients have come to PTA Performance Physical Therapy Spokane for years now thanks to the level of professionalism and service that our team provides.Louis Hurd - Managing Director of Spokane Sports Physical Therapy
These kinds of financial commitments have made many to wonder if companies that are turning to remote working during critical times could choose to continue with the status quo once normality is restored.
It can be tricky saying no to an employee who requests to work remotely especially if the HR already provided them with the required tools and it would make sense if this arrangement can become a long-term investment that would pay off in years to come.
Software That Helps With Working Remotely
That’s just what the industry that provides the remote work platform is hoping for. “We are fully prepared for this situation,” noted a spokesperson for Slack, a company which provides notable business chat software.
Just like Slack, Microsoft has enabled its cloud “productivity suite” to be freely available to small enterprises for the next six months. Google joined the club but chose to create its own business subscription, while its video conferencing service Zoom has removed limitations on its free tier, enabling users to chat for more than 40 minutes.
But not every company has experienced a smooth transition to remote working. Others like Facebook employees were restricted from accessing their corporate network for suspicious behavior by their takeaway service DoorDash.
Others experienced even more serious problems. In the UK, there were fears that home broadband networks would be overwhelmed by the weight of usage quashed by the UK service providers governed by the trade body ISPA, which noted that evenings were experiencing peak activity as most people settled down to stream Netflix and or play online video games, making this demand 10 times more than the normal daytime demand.
More worse is the fact that internet usage is generally increasing. Cloudflare, a company that provides online infrastructure which supports a vast swathe of the internet, confirmed it had been tracking this increase.
According to the company’s chief executive, Matthew Prince, “as more people work from home, peak traffic in impacted regions has increased, on average, approximately 10%. In Italy, which has imposed a nationwide quarantine, peak internet traffic is up 30%. Traffic patterns have also shifted so peak traffic is occurring earlier in the day in impacted regions.”
In Italy, internet usage via the national network has risen by more than two-thirds, not really because of employees working from home but as a result of housebound schoolchildren after following closure of schools in the country and have to log on to games like Fortnite, according to reports by Bloomberg News.
Surges in internet usage are likely to affect users who use bandwidth caps to pay for their internet, especially in the US and other countries that depend on mobile broadband. Various American ISPs like AT&T have started moving away from the practice in order to avoid any liability arising as a result of preventing people from working, though not many companies have done so.
Again, working from home isn’t for everyone. “I’ve worked 100% remote before,” said one tech industry worker who has been sent home, “and there comes a point where even an introvert would like to see another human.”
The Best Tools For Working From Home.
Slack, is a uber workplace management tool and a free-to-play business model that does not require users to sign up. Suitable for individual teams, desks and offices, users can start with the free tier and expand when they deem necessary. It’s therefore ideal for home workers who can easily recreate in-person chats just like in the office environment.
This is an impressive video conferencing tool embraced by many thanks to its ability to iron out the strains in the often frustrating process. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the app removed the limit on free accounts and can now support up to 1,000 participants in one meeting.
Trello acts more like your boss moving around “just to check on how you’re doing”. The software which is designed for project management enables teams to schedule and assign tasks, track progress of projects and develop workflows for repetitive jobs.
Aircall is an online telecommunication platform built off the back of modern voip (voice over internet protocol) technology. The platform integrates with most CRM systems and the online vendor portal is user friendly for technophobe's. I personally like the API and have developed game changing plug and play tools that businesses can easily adopt for a seamless transition into cost effective communications.
Asana is one simple and cheap project management app that enables users to automate business process, whilst being task driven. To help you work well from home; the app allows you to create tasks lists, kanban boards and track time efficiently. The production line approach allows you to and your team to collaborate and communicate effectively.
Workplace chat is a collaboration and communication platform where your employees can connect with each other via a social networking app. Companies use workplace to set up a private business like version of Facebook for their employees to manage different groups and companies, allowing them to create a network that is tailored to their specific needs such as goals and values. Businesses work better when everyone is on the same page.
Gravatar is the perfect platform to put a face to a name, a voice or a thought and is essential when implementing social distancing. Your Gravatar is a picture that follows you from website to website showing up alongside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog page. Your Gravatar helps recognise your posts on websites, blogs and web forums or discussions.