Business Continuity Series: Remote Working
Now more than ever, remote working technology is playing a fundamental role in helping organizations enable critical operations. WWT’s Joe Berger and Neil Anderson discuss the most common challenges organizations are facing while enabling remote employees, which technologies are needed most to relieve those challenges and how companies can put employees in the best position to succeed.
Read the transcript below:
- Hi there! My name is Brian Feldt with World Wide Technology. And today, I am joined with by Joe Berger, practice manager of WWT's collaboration practice. And Neil Anderson, who has heads up our networking practice. So to the two of you, thanks so much for joining me.
- [Neil] Thanks for having us.
- [Brian] So today, we will be talking about remote working and its' vital role in maintaining business continuity. As we're seeing organizations across the world really have large sloughs of their organization be working from somewhere other than the office. So Joe, we'll start with you. With so many people working from home, out of necessity, instead of choice and remote working solutions becoming table stakes really to enable them, What types of challenges are we seeing organizations face as they try to enable their employees remotely?
- [Joe] Yeah great question. So, you know. From an organizational level, what we found is most companies had some kind of remote worker policy. You know, definitely remote working isn't all of that new. Most businesses had some you know, portion of their work force. You probably could tell who worked or who might've actually been a remote worker. What completely new is the fact that 80, maybe 100% of your organization now is actually work from home. So, it's a pretty big shift in terms of the actual population of the work force. And so, a lot of businesses, maybe had tools in place, but they didn't have tools for everyone. So we have seen a huge uptake of customers asking for things like meetings licenses. You know, how do I ensure that everyone of my employees now jump on a conference call or web meeting whenever they can. As well, many are looking to figure out how do we do mass communications? Right? I've now gotta reach all of my employees. Not just my knowledge workers, but my frontline workers, my contractors, my vendors. And so, we've seen a big uptick in things like event-based tools or mass communications and alerts and things like that. And then, you know as the employees went home, I think the first kind of push was "Hey everyone, get it home. You know, we gotta be safe. Everyone go to your home office." And I think after that became, how do I optimize that work force? So, how do I ensure that my audio quality is great on that conference call? Or I can put in headphones to you know, so I'm not hearing my kids watching Netflix in the background. That kind of thing. You've seen more of these types of tools come into play like webcams and headsets. Even home monitors and stuff like that to really enable the employees and also ensuring that those employees can access critical applications information while they are working from home.
- [Brian] Neil, so technology is playing a more fundamental role in helping these organizations enable critical operations. So, in our discussions that we've had, with some customers, what technologies are we seeing specifically, that we're seeing the most need for when it comes to maintaining this business continuity?
- [Neil] Well, a lot of cases you know, people are leveraging home networks that already exist. And that's great. We're also seeing though, is that there is a need for networks where we didn't have networks before. If you think about hospitals springing up in places they weren't designed to be. Or, you know the need for agents at home. To have a real consistent experience. So we're seeing people you know, taking a look at as Joe said, taking a look at what did I you know, put there out now, but I need to get a more consistent experience. So how do I move on from that and get something that's a little bit more predictable. Gives great voice quality, if you have an agent working from home. Or, your somebody that whose home working, then you've gotta make sure that you can get the same experience that you've got essentially, in the office.
- [Brian] So an open ended question here. Neil or Joe. I'll preface this by saying we have a really interesting piece on our WWT.com platform that outlines the checklist for optimizing employees who maybe working from home. Not only in the short term, but also in the long term and having a sustainability plan. I think it's safe to say, that traditional working environment is not going to be ever exactly the same as we have it today. But, what are organizations needing to be thinking about right now to enable employees kind of immediately, but also keeping an eye on the future?
- [Joe] Yeah, I can start that off. You know, the way you and I have been talking about this since the beginning, if you look at that first wave, it was get everybody home, make sure that they can do the basics of their job. After that, it became, how do I optimize that? ensure that, that are accessing the right applications? They can connect to the corporate networks? They're actually becoming productive within their jobsets. And I think that the next phase becomes, Okay. How do I make sure that my business is being successful through all this? How do I start planning either for when the office does open back up? And then more long term, what does all this now mean? If my businesses can really succeed with you know, a larger portion of my employee base working from home, how do I take that into account? Like you know, do I actually bring everyone back into the ofiice when we do open up? Or, do I continue to have more people work from home? But it's really understanding; the tools, the options out there and saying, hey, maybe this is a better fit for my culture. I don't know, Neil what do you think?
- [Neil] Yeah I think the same Joe. I think, people can get away with using things like cell phones and maybe your phone at home, or maybe a soft-client on your laptop for a while. But when you want that consistency of experience, I think we're gonna see people that are going to transition and say you know what? I wanna put an IP phone in my home office or a video unit in my office. And that's gonna take a different set of tools and a different set of probably home networks transitioning more into an enterprise class network. Extending the enterprise network to home to give that consistent experience the enterprise security that you're looking for. And be able to give that quality of service to you know, some of those, higher-end collaboration tools. Like IP phones to make sure that the voice quality is good. And, I think what is also important to me Joe is that, people kinda get the same experience as when they're working at work. Right? Working at home, it would be great if I could connect with my connect to the Wi-Fi just like I could connect at home. And it would be great if I got my IP phone at my desk just like I do at work. Right? So I think, those kind of tool sets. I think we're going to see you know, people transitioning more into those kind of permanent home environments.
- [Joe] Yeah, I think that kinda goes back to our whole our whole philosophy of really optimizing that home worker. If my workload depends on things, like having an IP phone next to me, or you know, a high-end video endpoint because I am on a lot of video calls. It's really enabling that home user level and ensuring that you know, that home network, and my bandwidth can take riding-high def video all day.
- [Brian] Yeah so, Neil you walked us through kinda of the options that what they look like there. It's not obviously simple as choosing between a platform, Webex or Zoom? There's a lot of other stuff that you have to consider when doing these type of things. On the flip side, if we can enable employees all we want, but if they don't understand the tools and how to use them, you know really, that kinda falls flat. So Joe, how maybe can we help out employees in terms of understanding these tools, digesting them, and really being able to seamlessly use them once they're actually deployed at their homes or wherever it may be?
- [Joe] Yeah, that's a great point that sometimes gets overlooked. It's one thing to have the tool available. And I think this is sometimes where IT kinda falters where they've determined which tool they're going to give to employees, but they don't necessarily train and provide adoption services out to everyone. As I said earlier, where you have people who are already working remotely, but now a larger majority is. Those people haven't been necessarily trained on how to use these tools. Do they no know how to use things like, web conferencing, or some of these new collab with chat tools like Slack and teams. Training these employees so that they understand how that workflow is gonna help them throughout the day is really critical for some of these business continuity plans. You know, if that employee doesn't know how to do it, they're not gonna use the tools, or they might use it once and it doesn't do what they thought it would do. So they just completely give up. And so, having a training program and curriculum to make sure that these n-users really understand why that new tool is valuable to them. It's really critical when you are now having everyone work in this new model.
- [Neil] I think that's a great point Joe. And I think to the extent, you can provide a similar experience at home. With the same tool sets. For example, if I extend the corporate Wi-Fi to a home a office, then now I got the same SSID. I can just connect. My laptop just connects. I don't have to do anything special to connect back to corporate. I've got the same security. I've got the same login experience. I think that I can go a long way as well
- [Brian] So Neil, we have unpacked a lot here just in the short period of time. And so we wouldn't expect everybody to necessarily retain all of this info, but we have a lot of these resources and any, even more on our platform: WWT.com. Maybe, just a couple tidbits of about what we do have there that's available for people to use?
- [Neil] Yeah I think that's uh We've tried to make it really easy for people to access. If you just go to WWT.com, and you actually click on business continuity here at the top, we've got a site where a lot of this information is available at your fingertips. You can browse it and learn it at your own pace. Different cases like remote working, Home agents, Telehealth. We're helping a lot of hospitals connect doctors and patients remotely as well. You can click on these and they will give you more information about you know, what are the different tool sets that you need? Some of things that we've talked about around collaboration tools and User computing tools. The network connectivity. What do you think about security? And you can click in here and see some of these different options that are available that we've discussed. And Joe's discussed around what are my options for meetings? Or what are my options for even headsets and the different cell phones and desk phones. Right? If all else fails, you can ask us for a briefing. We're happy to jump on with different customers and walk them through what are their concerns? What are their careabouts? What are they trying to solve for? And we can quickly recommend the right tool sets for them. And get them on their way. And help them deploy those that needed.
- [Brian] So Joe, I'll have the last question with you here. And it's bit of a crystal ball question, but we hope to have return to normalcy soon in terms of having the option of working from an office or home and not just being forced to do one or the other. But, what is the future of remote working as you kind of see it today?
- [Joe] Well, I think, it's gonna be brought more broadly accepted. I think you will find more and more employees who are preferring this way of work, or gonna start saying, "You know what? I don't need to be in the office five days a week, maybe a couple days a week here and there for key meetings or bigger things. I think businesses will be becoming more acceptable of remote work as a truly productive way of working. In fact, studies have shown some people are actually productive at home. So, I think this is kind of here to stay. It's gonna be a [Inaudible] To see the new mix of when people can go back to the office. How many will? But I do think, more organizations are gonna say, "Hey. We're okay with remote intel workers." It is effective and people are still getting their job done.
- [Brian] Great, well to the two of you. Well, thank you guys so much for joining. I know we have busy schedules, certainly given the nature of the work and remote working. This wraps up our conversation on the topic. And certainly as Neil had mentioned in outline, we have all these resources and more available on our platform: WWT.com. And thanks to you for joining and having an interest in the topic.
- [Joe] Thanks Brian.
- [Neil] Thanks for having us Brian