Digital tools turn home into networked office

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on April 06, 2020

Experts stress safety precautions while collaborating remotely

A new generation of tech tools is helping bring employees together, making possible communication and collaboration at a snap, even while working from home.

Though these tools are helping create work environments that are flexible, intuitive and even inspiring in some cases, as those for the advertising industry, several executives maintain it is not the end of the office but, instead, the start of its finest hour.

“Work from home is the need of the hour amid the current Covid-19 pandemic, but at the same time, for businesses, it might lead to lower productivity, lack of communication and inadequate output,” says Prashant Puri, Co-Founder and CEO, AdLift, a digital marketing agency.

Communication and collaboration, within the teams and with clients, is more important than ever before at this time, he adds.

Distant work buddies

As the walls literally come tumbling down and everyone works in a neighbourhood, it is digital platforms and smart devices that are helping operations transform. “Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or even a simple video call over Skype and WhatsApp can help a great deal at this time,” says Puri.

"To stay in-sync every day, tools like Basecamp, Trello, Asana and Slack can be used. While chat messages help, a face-to-face interaction is always better. So, a video chat session occasionally can help maintain camaraderie and a culture of interaction and e-learning,” the executive points out.

However, since employees would want to congregate and feel a sense of belonging to a unit, Puri says team leads can “create ‘distant work buddies’ and ensure mutual access to VPN, Google Drive and conferences using the internet.”

He adds tools like Zoom (communication and collaboration), Wrike (project management), Salesforce (sales operations) and LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help keep the lines of communication open with clients, as can Chorus Call, a teleconferencing service provider that offers audio and video conferencing.

Virtual chat rooms

Prasad Shejale, Founder & CEO of digital marketing agency, Logicserve Digital, says it is only digital tools that offer businesses support for remote work schedules.

“For businesses, it is important to evaluate and make necessary arrangements to equip remote workers at scale. Companies should check whether their workers can join virtual meetings and accomplish important tasks irrespective of their location. Soon, Shejale adds, “companies might be required to build remote responsive workplaces and make quick proactive decisions in the interest of human life.”

Logicserve Digital has instituted a robust ‘work from home’ programme, as it already had collaborative tools in place, including Uknowva, a cloud-based and mobile-enabled business software.

The shift to the ‘home office’ has brought in a new culture in corporates, leading to an increase in demand for cloud-based videos and virtual chat rooms.

Suvodeep Das, Vice-President-Sales & Marketing at Sodexo BRS India, says workspaces have changed, and it is now about having people interact in different ways, depending on the type of work that they are doing.

With companies deploying virtual chat rooms for employees to help increase productivity as well as motivation levels, several digital tools have gained traction, like VPN networks that provide easy access and ensure real-time safety.

Google tools for small biz

Recently, Google India rolled out a list of tools to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) operate safely while working remotely.

Asking SMBs to update their Google My Business profile, the search engine giant said it would help provide the most accurate information to customers. It also urged businesses to share more detailed and timely updates on their business operations, and use ‘Posts’ to directly communicate with customers on a regular basis.

Highlighting security issues during these times, Goolge urged SMBs to initiate a two-step authentication for a safer login, stating it significantly decreased the chance of someone gaining unauthorised access.

“Our research shows that an SMS code sent to a recovery phone number helped block 96 per cent of bulk phishing attacks and 76 per cent of targeted attacks. Security keys helped block 100 per cent of bulk phishing attacks and 100 per cent of targeted attacks,” the note to SMBs added.

SMBs were also asked to tell employees to avoid using work devices for private activities to reduce the risk of phishing and malware. During the current Covid-19 outbreak, people tend to check updates on the spread and might download malicious files infecting their work devices, said the company, asking workers to use screenlocks, even when at home, and especially if they have kids.

The agency also emphasised that companies need to remind employees not to share business critical information over unencrypted connections.

Published on April 06, 2020

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