Enabling a Smooth Transition to Remote Work
Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, Freddie Mac was supporting remote work for only a fraction of its workers on any given day. Many teams, for instance, gave employees the option to work from home one day a week. Mauritz says he faced the overnight scale-up with skepticism. “I’ve been in the infrastructure business for a long time, and you’re never really sure how infrastructure is going to scale until you start beating on it,” he says.
In the early weeks of remote work, virtual meetings at Freddie Mac were up 149 percent, private chats were up 59 percent and group chats were up 94 percent. While the infrastructure held up, there was a two-week increase in help desk calls as employees familiarized themselves with the tools. “For the initial few weeks, there was an influx of calls, but those were heavily weighted toward people who hadn’t used the tools as much before,” Mauritz says. “Since those first couple of weeks, our call volume hasn’t been any higher than it was before the crisis hit.”
AmCap Insurance, a commercial property insurance carrier based in St. Petersburg, Fla., initially deployed RingCentral to ensure business continuity. Employees use the collaboration solution for conference calls, video meetings and screen sharing.
“I’ve had nobody complain about the transition,” says Stacia Falls, business transformation analyst at the company. “Everybody has been able to use RingCentral, either from their cellphones — that’s the majority — or another device.”
In addition to using video collaboration for business meetings, AmCap Insurance has relied on RingCentral for holding virtual happy hours and new-hire breakfasts. Also, Falls says, screen sharing has increased tenfold, as the feature helps with remote troubleshooting. “It runs really smoothly, making troubleshooting remotely quick and effective,” she says.
Using the Tools Your Business Already Has
Armstrong International — a global company that designs, manufactures and distributes control systems for steam, air and hot water utility applications — was already using several collaboration tools prior to the coronavirus crisis. Employees rely on Microsoft 365 for file sharing, email and chat, while the company has long used Lifesize for video collaboration. Those tools have helped to accommodate the quick shift to remote work, but the company has also adopted new processes and policies to keep employee productivity high, says Kurt Armstrong, CIO for the company.
“We put together some guidelines on how to be successful working from home,” Armstrong says. “Things like dressing to impress — just because you’re working from home, that doesn’t mean you should be coming in in your pajamas. You should also make sure you’re in an environment that’s quiet and separated from the rest of your home.”
Teams at Armstrong participate in virtual stand-up meetings each morning, helping to set the tone for the day.
There’s one key rule: Employees need to be ready to jump on a video call at any point during working hours. “It’s not acceptable to say, ‘I don’t want to do a videoconference,’” Armstrong says.