he technology infrastructure required for businesses to allow their workers to work remotely has been in place for decades, if not longer. However, for a variety of reasons, most businesses did not adopt the technology needed for remote working or make the necessary cultural adjustments in their workplace to allow employees to work remotely. As recent as the end of last year, only about 17 percent of employees in the United States were allowed to work remotely five days a week; a majority of employees were required to go to the office to work.
With the onset of COVID-19, businesses have had to make major changes to their work culture and work practices. In keeping with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines of social distancing as a way to contain the spread of COVID-19, a majority of businesses have transitioned their workforce from being office-based to working remotely. Businesses have had to rapidly make significant investments in the technological tools and applications that are necessary to develop and maintain a remote workforce. In addition, employees have had to undergo training in the use of the tools needed to work remotely. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the share of businesses that allow their employees to work remotely has increased to approximately 44 percent.
GROWTH OF VIDEO CONFERENCING SINCE COVID-19
As stated earlier, one of the areas of adjustments that businesses had to make in the transition to remote working was in video conferencing. As a result of the physical distancing guidelines established by the CDC, most businesses could not hold meetings and conferences in persons. Instead, these meetings and conferences were conducted virtually using video conferencing tools. As such, there has been a significant spike in the download of the various video conferencing tools. In one week in March earlier this year, there were over 62 million downloads of video conferencing tools. Some video conferencing tools that have witnessed a spike in their popularity and utility since the beginning of COVID-19 are:
- Zoom: This is one of the most popular video conferencing tools used globally. At the onset of the pandemic, the number of Zoom downloads was fourteen times more than the average number of weekly downloads in the final quarter of 2019. In the month of April, it had over 300 million daily meeting participants
- Google Meet: This video conferencing application also witnessed a significant increase in downloads, about thirty times more than the weekly average in the fourth quarter of 2019.
- Microsoft Teams: The use of this video conferencing has increased from the onset of the pandemic to approximately 75 million daily active users.
As remote working becomes a more permanent part of the work culture post-pandemic, the demand as well as the utility of video conferencing tools and applications is expected to increase. With reduced face to face meetings, networking, and conferences, these video conferencing tools will increasingly be used as a substitute for these integral business functions and processes.
WHY YOU NEED UP-TO-DATE TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS
One of the major lessons learned by businesses as result of COVID-19 is the need for a robust technology infrastructure. Businesses that had such an infrastructure in place prior to COVID-19 were better able to make the transition to remote working compared to their counterparts who did not have an infrastructure in place. As a business owner, it is essential to make the necessary investment needed to ensure that you have a fully updated and well-maintained technology infrastructure. Some reasons that you should keep your technology updated are the following:
- Security: With an increasing amount of data and information being transmitted digitally since the onset of COVID-19, cybercriminals have stepped up their efforts to compromise business networks and steal confidential information for illegal purposes. Using techniques such as phishing, spear phishing, and SQL injection, among others, cybercriminals have been able to successfully compromise some business networks and access their data. Keeping your technology infrastructure constantly updated is one of the strategies necessary to secure your network from cybercriminals.
- Reliability: With remote working, it is essential that your employees can access your network at any time of the day or night. Your network should be reliable with little to no downtime so that your employees can fully execute their work duties. Frequent network downtimes may impede the ability of your employees to perform their jobs adequately and negatively impact their work productivity. By keeping your network infrastructure constantly updated and maintained, you minimize the risk your network undergoing significant unintentional downtime.
- Scalability: As earlier discussed, it is expected that the demand for remote work will increase even after the COVID-19 pandemic blows over. Therefore, businesses should have a network infrastructure in place capable of handling the expected increase in load brought about by the increase in remote work demand. These businesses should have a network infrastructure that is readily scalable as more employees work remotely. Business networks that are not scalable will be poorly equipped to handle the surge in the demand for remote work. As a business owner, one of the ways to prepare your network to make it scalable is by ensuring that it is kept updated
HOW ADVANCED COMMUNICATIONS CAN HELP WITH THE GROWTH OF VIDEO CONFERENCING
At Advanced Communications, we provide telecommunication equipment and services to small and medium-sized businesses in and around Orlando and Tampa in Florida, as well as Plano, Texas and surrounding environs. Some of our telecommunications solutions include, but are not limited to, IP phone systems, data networking, structured cabling, VoIP services, and voice as well as data services. With over 15 years of industry experience, we are more than able to get your business network fully equipped and able to deal with the increased load brought about by remote working. Our staff engineers are fully certified in a variety of IP phone systems as well as networking standards. We offer cost-effective technology solutions that are readily scalable to match your company growth and enhance its remote working capabilities. For more information about our services, and to get started, contact us.