The Coronavirus outbreak has been a genuine crisis for everyone, and has highlighted the genuine value and practicality of remote connectivity, collaboration and home working, says Kevin Drinkall, EMEA Wireless and Cloud Market Development Manager at Zyxel.
Along with the rest of the IT industry, Zyxel has been promoting the benefits of remote working for many years. Of course, we will always focus on the positives it brings – flexibility and freedom, reducing the need to travel, enabling remotely-located teams of people to collaborate and work together at any time, providing a platform for remote teaching or medical diagnosis, to mention but a few potential applications.
What we never talk about is the potential to overcome unforeseen events or scenarios – such as the global Coronavirus outbreak. Why would we? But facing up to this crisis has shown the tremendous and very practical value of remote connectivity services and solutions.
Over the last few weeks, the restrictions on travel and enforced closure of schools, cafes, bars and workplaces, have seen more organisations turning to remote technologies in order to keep functioning in as normal a way as possible.
Keeping the wheels turning
In some regions, we have seen quite a big surge in demand for our products that help people get connected at home and keep their connection secure – wireless access points, security gateways and VPN solutions. We’ve also seen more customers and managed services providers making use of our cloud-based remote management solution, Nebula.
Schools and businesses in particular have been looking for ways to circumvent the need for groups of people to gather in close quarters in a central location on a daily basis. These products enable them to continue delivering lessons and communicating and collaborating in teams without actually being in the same physical space.
In other words, they are doing exactly what they are designed to do. But, instead of being something that is used occasionally to make it easier and more convenient for individuals and groups to avoid the time and cost of travelling, and to share ideas and advance projects, home connectivity and collaboration technologies are being used to keep the wheels of public services and the commercial world turning.
More home working
It will be interesting what happens once the crisis is past, and everyone is able to return to their usual place or work or study. What we suspect is that – having discovered that remote working is actually quite easy to implement and to manage and does actually deliver all the benefits mentioned earlier – that it will be utilised a lot more.
Our belief is that, having been compelled to give it a try over the past few weeks – albeit due to something that none of us would have wanted to happen or see repeated – customers have seen that remote working is effective, that it is inexpensive, affordable and genuinely beneficial to the organisation and the individual. They would have seen this eventually, but the coronavirus outbreak has simply accelerated adoption to a degree.
People will, of course, go back into workplaces and into school and college as soon as it is deemed safe – and with good reason. You will never, in our view, be able to replace the richness, depth of understanding, interaction and innovation that you will get from bringing groups of people together in the same room for team meetings, workshops and lectures.
But remote working and collaboration can play a much bigger role that they do today. We expect to see more people working from home in the future, allowing organisations and individuals to benefit in all the ways we have been promising they would for all these years. That will have the added benefit of making organisations better-prepared to deal with unforeseen events, such as a global pandemic that prevents us from travelling or gathering in large numbers within the confines of a building or campus.