Whether returning to work, school or recreation, many people are struggling to adapt to the relentless pace of change and ambiguous policies wrought by the Covid-19 crisis. In the workplace however, one thing is crystal clear: the pandemic has turbo-charged systemic shifts that were already well underway. Although the changes are difficult for many today, these changes will likely yield many sustainable positive business, social and environmental outcomes.
The ‘work from anywhere’ movement
The most seismic of these shifts is the ‘work from anywhere’ (WfA) movement. Despite some governments urging workers back into offices to revitalise city centres, most enterprises from Google to Uber have told employees to work from home until at least January 2021. That’s why in the first few months of lockdown, we saw a 300 per cent surge in the use of our videoconferencing service. Almost overnight, workplace video calls became the norm, replacing in-person and audio-only meetings.
Greater efficiency is one silver lining to the Covid-driven WfA acceleration. Since the 2007 financial crisis, economists have been trying to solve the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’ marked by output and wage stagnation. Many other nations face a similar problem. WfA can be part of the solution. In our recent Future of Work survey, 74 per cent of respondents said they were equally (34 per cent) or even more (40 per cent) productive working at home than in the office.
Organisations are busy adapting to more flexible operational models, impacting everything from property leases and employment agreements to IT and communications infrastructure and supplier contracts. The reason is simple: the more flexible the organisation, the more ready it is for anything that comes its way. And by all accounts, we’re in for a sustained period of continual change.
Companies that support WfA today gain a sustainable competitive advantage, not only through higher productivity but from greater hiring flexibility and optimised office space and travel costs.
A cloudy digital transformation
Cloud services like Microsoft Azure are vital to enabling operational flexibility, providing scalable, virtual storage and runtime infrastructure at a fraction of on-premises costs. The WfA movement has boosted adoption of cloud-based collaboration tools, including video conferencing, chat and other communications tools. Cloud makes it easier to support remote workers and it can handle usage spikes by providing elastic capacity.
Cloud-based systems also tend to interoperate well, which means employees can use their favourite communications and productivity software alongside the company tools. We continue to update our secure videoconferencing platform to support organisations’ bring-your-own-device policies, integrating with a range of PCs, mobile devices and conference room systems. Interoperability is essential for future-proofing, as software policies and standards evolve in line with broader industry preferences and IT leadership changes.
BlueJeans Gateway for Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is one cloud service whose popularity and usage during the Covid crisis is skyrocketing. Last July Microsoft announced that Teams overtook Slack, reporting 13 million daily users compared to Slack’s 10 million. Not even one year later, Teams reportedly has 75 million daily users.
To provide maximum flexibility, we developed the BlueJeans Gateway for Microsoft Teams to enable Teams users to connect to their existing legacy conferencing systems. This Microsoft-certified solution makes it easy and secure to bring Teams video meetings into conference rooms and huddle spaces. It works seamlessly with thousands of room system configurations, like Cisco, Poly and Lifesize, making the most of existing hardware investments.
The future of work is hybrid
Solutions like BlueJeans Gateway are born out of our pragmatic and customer-driven culture. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, we don’t expect any two organisations to emerge looking the same. Most will devise their own unique hybrid infrastructures that allow teams to work in the office, at home and on the go. Cloud will continue to flourish and grow, though some organisations will maintain on-premises infrastructure. Employees will continue to want to use their own devices and apps alongside company-issued hardware and software.
Organisations need to be prepared for this hybrid world by providing secure, cloud-based tools which keep teams productive no matter where they are, and that can plug-and-play with a wide range of devices.
Paul Scholey is international senior vice president at BlueJeans by Verizon
BlueJeans is supporting customers through this change by making it easy to get up and running with BlueJeans Gateway in four simple steps. For further reading, download the e-book 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Cloud Video Interop Solution for Teams.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
Share this story