Video and Collaboration are the ‘New Normal’
Since the start of 2020, when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, nearly 80% of white-collar employees in Europe have been forced to work remotely at some point, launching an unprecedented experiment in remote working.
We surprised ourselves as the change actually made a lot of sense to both companies and employees. The Boston Consulting Group BCG surveyed, in collaboration with KRC Research, more than 1,500 managers and 7,500 white- and blue-collar employees across 15 European countries in a broad range of industries and interviewed numerous European business leaders at major companies. They found that more than 40% of managers have seen productivity increased among their remote workforce, and a similar percentage believes their overhead costs will decline. Employees have also seen benefits, including a greater focus on the task at hand, increased flexibility in their working hours, and a significant improvement in their work-life balance. Society as a whole benefits thanks to the potential for greater workplace diversity, income equality, and environmental sustainability.
As businesses look to change the way they work the impacts are rippling out to the travel sector and Bill Gates told CNBC in November 2020 that
“over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office would go away”.
Jeffrey Goh, chief executive of Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline group, predicts there will be a
“Structural change in terms of the business travel segment” that could leave the sector up to 30% smaller”.
There are a variety of estimates, but it is clear that we will be travelling a lot less to both work and on business trips. As the level of travel goes down the price is likely to increase to enable the travel industry to make a profit and this will further depress the demand for business travel.
As businesses adapt to this ‘new normal’ of work from home lifestyle and less business travelling they have had to face a new challenge of setting up video conferencing for their teams and ensuring system requirements are fully supported throughout all devices.
Not surprisingly, video conferencing software businesses thrived during the pandemic and Zoom saw its revenue skyrocket. For the twelve months ended January 31, Zoom’s revenue amounted to $2.65 billion, up from just $623 million the previous year. As of March 1, Zoom Video Communications had a market capitalization of $120 billion, compared $31 billion a year earlier!
Microsoft predicts the pandemic will be a turning point that will change how we work and learn forever. Demand for Microsoft Teams surged worldwide this year, jumping from 32 million daily active users to 44 million in just a week. Microsoft has seen a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day. That’s up 200% from 900 million minutes in mid-March, around the time many businesses shifted toward remote working. People are turning on video in Teams meetings, two times more than before, with video calls usage in Teams growing by more than 1,000% in March.
That Boston Consulting review concluded that remote work is here to stay. Overall, managers expect that almost half of their workforce will work in a hybrid remote model in the future, and an additional 18% will work fully remotely. Half of all surveyed employees expect to have remote-working options once the pandemic subsides, rising to two-thirds among white-collar workers. Employees enjoy the increased flexibility remote working
offers and how it accommodates their family and personal needs. At the same time, however, they report difficulties maintaining cohesion among teams and other cultural
aspects of working.
“We may never return to working as we did before. Client and employee behavior has changed in lasting ways.”
– CEO of a global bank