Updated- Tuesday 17 March
With the ever-evolving government guidance for how businesses and employees should respond to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19; people are being advised to "avoid non-essential travel and to work from home if they can." These new measures were announced by the prime minister and seem to be in response to statistical modelling carried out by Imperial College London, which was heavily informed by the experience in Italy. Boris Johnson went on to acknowledge that the economy was facing "a severe blow" because of COVID-19.
As organisations set to follow this official guidance by closing offices and forcing staff to work remotely, the demand for collaboration technologies continues to surge with users seeking out alternative ways of keeping their operations moving forward.
Original article- Wednesday 4 March
As the UK government announces its plans to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, businesses looking to protect the health of their employees can take steps to support them by enabling staff to work from home. This has led to a surge in demand for video conferencing technology and other collaboration tools, with leading providers Zoom, Microsoft and Cisco, all reporting significant increases in the use of their services.
Though the number of coronavirus cases in the UK remains low compared to other parts of the world, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been reported in UK press saying that there is a “significant risk” of the virus becoming more widespread. The UK government has said that up to a fifth of the workforce may be off sick during the peak of a coronavirus outbreak in the UK, meaning measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus are becoming increasingly important.
The government has also advised that should the virus spread further, they could seek to reduce contact between people as part of a so-called "social-distancing" strategy, which would aim to delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year when the weather is warmer.
The social distancing strategy could include the closure of schools, offices, restricted use of public transport and stopping mass gatherings to protect people from infection, should these measures be recommended by Public Health England.
How prepared is your business?
The prospect of disrupted travel, building closures, cancelled events and the need to keep workers productive is pushing companies to revisit collaboration tools and work-from-home policies, as reported by Prodec partners Zoom, Microsoft and Cisco.
Demand for team collaboration technologies had been rising long before coronavirus began making the headlines. However, the coronavirus news has acted as a catalyst, forcing enterprises to rethink the way they operate and to review policies for remote working, security, and business continuity.
As a result of this, many of the major vendors in the collaboration technology space have seen a rapid increase in the adoption of their respective technologies and services.
Microsoft for example, recently reported that in some locations it has seen customer adoption of its Teams-based remote work solutions double due to the urgent demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Zoom has also reported that it has added more videoconferencing users so far this year than it did in all of 2019, and has seen a huge rise in its share price.
Video or voice conferencing reduces the need for travel and in-person interactions, helping businesses to slow the spread of illnesses such as coronavirus, without impacting productivity or communication with colleagues and customers.
By enabling a digital and collaborative workspace which allows employees to collaborate in real time, at any time and from any location, organisations are more capable of driving innovation, adapting to new market dynamics and, as in this instance, mitigating the economic impact of a public health event.
Updated- Friday 13 March 2020
How have collaboration technology providers reacted to coronavirus?
Many of the leading manufacturers of communication and collaboration technologies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom and StarLeaf have published press releases to provide details of the plans to support employees and customers during this unprecedented time.
Cisco recently revealed that it is actively monitoring global traffic trends of the usage of its Webex services worldwide and has a proactive plan to support its customers with their changing needs.
With immediate effect, Cisco has expanded the capabilities on its free Webex offer in all countries where it is available, not only those impacted by COVID-19, to include the following additional features.
- Unlimited usage (no time restrictions)
- Supports up to 100 participants
- Offers toll dial-in (in addition to existing VoIP capabilities)
Additionally, Cisco is working closely with its partners, including Prodec Networks, to be able to offer free 90-day licenses to businesses who are not Webex customers during this time of need. Getting started with Webex is easy. It’s free, it’s quick and no credit card or commitment is needed, follow this link for more details.
Cisco is also helping existing customers to meet the additional demand for remote workers by expanding their usage at no additional cost. You can contact Prodec Networks here.
Microsoft and Zoom have also responded by offering enhancements to free services and trials.
Microsoft will now offer free six-months trials to the premium version of Microsoft Teams to support remote work and global health. In addition, as of March 10, Microsoft is rolling out updates to the free version of Teams that will lift restrictions on user limits and make it possible for users to schedule meetings for video calling and conferencing.
Zoom, is offering users of its Basic service (free version) in China, unlimited meeting time for conferences with more than two participants. Zoom's default-free offering is already a popular choice for many small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and allows unlimited 1-to-1 meetings group sessions of up to 40 minutes and 100 participants.
StarLeaf announced it's introducing measures to support new users and existing customers in enabling remote working for all employees quickly and with minimum disruption and is taking steps to ensure service availability and continued product supply.
StarLeaf is making a free version of its online meeting software available worldwide. The basic version allows anyone to sign up and benefit from:
Unlimited one-to-one calling
Unlimited meetings of up to 45 minutes
Unlimited instant messaging and group chats
StarLeaf has also created a remote working hub on its website with resources to support your customers working from home. Visit here for more details.
How can Prodec Networks help your business?
Prodec Networks is working closely with all of its technology partners across all areas to ensure the impact of coronavirus is as low as possible for its customers.
Through its partnerships with leading manufacturers of communication and collaboration technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, Zoom, and StarLeaf, Prodec is able to provide the tools and expertise required to ensure your business can enable staff to work remotely, whilst also limiting the impact this may have on your customers.
Prodec Networks specialises in designing, managing and optimising today’s evolving technology environments to provide greater strategic value to your business.
Prodec Networks is doing all it can and is prepared to help customers with their needs during this evolving environment.
If you have concerns about enabling employees to work remotely in a secure and effective way, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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