Back to Blogs

Microsoft Records Over 115mn Daily Active Users in October – Remote Working Trends

Remote Working
Published on Oct 29, 2020

Introduction 

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to bring agony and despair for multitudes across the world, building huge financial and emotional strains. While the science fraternity works relentlessly towards developing a vaccine, countries across the globe are actively working towards supressing the rising  Covid numbers.  Simultaneously,  business  organizations, having being aware of the dangers the virus poses towards the safety of their employees have been mindful of their responsibilities and have continuously encouraged employees to work remotely over the span of last seven months. In order to have some semblance of normalcy and maintain business as usual, businesses have been exploring various digital options of responsibly carrying out their operations. Several companies have revamped their workplace policies and are now giving special attention to remote working policies as well. As millions of people adjust to remote working on a full-time basis, the transition has had its own set of challenges as we humans are hardwired for social connections and being in lockdown mode for months is something that no-one saw coming. 

The days are gone when organizations required their workforce to be physically present at their offices. Today, businesses are preferring to operate in a more diverse manner by integrating remote workers as well as in-house employees. Due to the pandemic, the workplace collaboration software space has witnessed a huge rise in demand. To make work from home a flawless one, several workplace collaboration tool providers have perfected their offerings in order to help everyone adapt to the “new normal”. For smooth business operations, it is essential that in-house employees, remote workers, third-party vendors and independent contractors stay connected to each other. The dramatic move towards remote working has undoubtedly highlighted the need for virtual collaboration tools – the only way employees can work as a team.  

Impact of Coronavirus on remote working 

The Covid-19 pandemic has reset several work trends. This situation of crisis has compelled the HR leaders to brainstorm workforce planning, management and strategies. The pandemic has given remote working an “ultimate push” and has redefined the definition of work from home, creating a lasting impact on the way we work. Organizations are in the midst of re-evaluating their strategic and operational goals while assessing the impact on their pre-Covid goals and plans. According to Gartner, in order to lower costs, 32% of organizations are looking forward to replacing full-time employees with remote workers.  

Remote working trends - worker well beingZoom recorded 600 million daily meeting participants by September end. That’s a massive jump from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019. The unpredictable success led to various security and privacy concerns but overall, the company responded with adequate measures and is maintaining its growth momentum. 

 

Cisco WebEx 

Cisco’s WebEx product is another popular workplace collaboration tool in the market, offering video conferencing and added essential collaboration features such as instant messaging, brainstorming tools, media and content sharing, webinars, and call sharing. Due to the pandemic, Cisco recorded 590 million users in September. According to Cisco Collaboration’s Senior VP and General Manager, Sri Srinivasan, the company has seen 2.5x, 4x, and 3.5x growth in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific respectively. 

Slack 

In order to reach to the masses, Slack has made the paid version of it’s app free for everyone who has played an essential role in curbing the pandemic. Initially developed as an internal tool for a gaming company, Slack gained massive popularity because of its deep engagement and intuitive and appealing user interface (UI).  

Benefits and Challenges of Remote working 

Benefits: 

Attracting top talent: Remote working has expanded the horizon for attracting top talent pool. Now that companies aren’t restricting themselves to a specific geographical area, they can find specialized professionals from across the globe.  

Reduced employee turnover: Organizations are using remote working as a way to retain top talent. It has proven to be a valuable retention tool in the past. A report by Owl Labs states that organizations that offer remote working experience 25% less employee turnover rate. Replacing highly trained employees can cost twice the annual salary of the employee.  

Increased productivity and team collaboration: The results from a poll by Gallup reveals that employees who spent 60% to 80% of their time away from office, were having the highest rates of engagement. During this pandemic, some are finding working remotely far less distracting, while others living with families are finding it hard to focus on work. But overarchingly, employees have been far more productive than they were earlier.  

Challenges: 

Difficulty in setting boundaries: Extended work from home is starting to create anxiety and stress for many people as the boundaries between work and private life have merged. The constant need to be available online, instant messaging or workplace collaboration tools is acting as a source of stress. To overcome this, organizations can communicate boundaries for example setting “working hours”. 

Feeling isolated: In pre-Covid times, having a quick chit chat with other colleagues would help establish strong connection and trust. Now that we have moved to digital meetings that are typically quite “virtual” and have no “personal connection” element in them, many remote workers tend to feel isolated. 

Adapting to a work-from-home culture: Getting to savor the perks of work from home was something every employee looked forward to. But now, when our work lives are completely restricted to our home, it can result in employees drifting away from the organization’s work culture. Frequent town halls, engagement activities via virtual collaboration tools can help bridge this gap and facilitate the smooth transition to a full-time work from home. 

Conclusion 

As predicted by Fast Company, tools that facilitate remote working and virtual reality conferencing will emerge as the preferred form of communication in the future. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a crucial role in helping the organizations manage remote staff. Technologies that enable the workplace collaboration tools to run their operation smoothly such as cloud, API’s and VR & AR will see a massive upsurge in demand.  

According to Buffer, 99% of employees would prefer to work remotely again sometime in their life. Instead of resisting this unprecedented change, companies must improve their remote work policies and create standard KPI’s for employees. This way, it can be a win-win for both the company and the employees wherein the employees are aware of the expectations and managers can review their performance easily.  


Contributors
RELATED BLOGS