Can telecommuting become the new normal after the epidemic?


• As the epidemic eases, the discussion of telecommuting tools is also declining, but the public opinion heat does not equal to the heat of the product in practical applications.

• Telecommuting tools have effectively helped enterprise projects and epidemic prevention and control. They are not only important office tools, but also reshape existing working methods.

• The digital economy has become mainstream, and young digital workers are the main force of the workplace in the future. Enterprises need to create an efficient corporate culture through digital transformation, and mobile office will become the norm.

In the days when the epidemic is gradually easing, it is time to re-examine the future of telecommuting.

More than two months ago, the situation of not being able to rework because of the epidemic: after the holiday, the office workers scattered in various places wore pajamas and started telecommuting at home. Different degrees of instability appeared on the first day of rework. According to the data provided by Dingtalk, on February 3, nearly 200 million people started telecommuting.

As telecommuting becomes mainstream, telecommuting tools also shows a boom: Feishu entered the high-growth market with free, at the same time, Dingtalk and WeChat Work rushed to the top three in the App Store.

During the epidemic, there are some discussions on social media about which telecommuting product is better.

In addition to "BAT"(Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent), Huawei also joins in the telecommuting track. In early March, Ren Zhengfei proposed in a discussion with the WeLink team: WeLink wants to become China's largest enterprise business office platform.

However, with the success of the prevention and control of the epidemic, enterprises have resumed production, and telecommuting is no longer mainstream. At this time point, the discussion about telecommuting is also declining.

The question then arises, when telecommuting is no longer the norm, what is the future of telecommuting?

What changes has been brought about by telecommuting?

Many people have already experienced the benefits of telecommuting.

Affected by the epidemic, the team was unable to work at office and there were many communication barriers. Thanks to telecommuting products, the team achieved instant information sharing and synchronization, allowing work to be carried out normally.

For many people, if there is no epidemic, they may not be exposed to telecommuting products so quickly. In a special period, telecommuting has become the mainstream, telecommuting products have quickly become just-needed, and they also have the opportunity to obtain more new users.

"I have never used it before, but now I have to use them to punch cards, fill in forms, and collect information", one user once said. This year, he became a new user of telecommuting products. After using it, he found that the experience is good, and he will continue to use it in the future. This is a typical representative of the new users to use telecommuting under the epidemic situation.

On top of basic functions such as punching cards, filling out forms, and collecting information, telecommuting products also provide great help for team projects.

Taking Xiaoguo Culture as an example, due to the epidemic, the talk show actors cannot record online, nor can the audience go to watch live. In this context, how to find a suitable way to transfer this very offline experience performance form to online, which is a test of the choice and use of tools.

Xiaoguo Culture tried Feishu that developed rapidly during the epidemic: the podcast show was changed to a live broadcast format. The host and the talk show actor completed the live broadcast test through the video conference function of Feishu, which solves the pain point that can't record normally offline.

This is a typical representative of the effectiveness of telecommuting during the epidemic. Through telecommuting products, different organizations in all walks of life can collect, circulate, and share information without direct contact.

In addition to Xiaoguo Culture, during the epidemic, many banks, universities, enterprises and institutions realized a smooth transition of offline business through telecommuting products, and some hospitals even moved some outpatient services online. For example, the State Administration of Taxation Qingdao Qianwan Bonded Port District Taxation Bureau used telecommuting products to realize the online and digitalization of organizational health management; the three experts of Southern Hospital used the telecommuting products to conduct online consultations for doctors and related training of treatment during the outbreak.

The basic service guarantee of the whole society can run smoothly during the epidemic, and the telecommuting products are indispensable.

In addition to basic communication and information collection, collaborative office products go deeper into team collaboration. For example, in the attempt of Xiaoguo Culture, talk show actors write, read and perform, discuss and modify in the collaboration documents and video conference of Feishu. From this case, it can be seen that the important value of telecommuting products is to enable distributed team members to achieve remote project collaboration and management, which is critical for projects scheduled, especially those requiring emergency launch.

Not only small and medium-sized teams, but during the epidemic period, some of the hundreds of millions of projects were completed through telecommuting. For example, during the Spring Festival this year, people across the country were invited to watch the movie Lost in Russia for free. According to ByteDance, the whole process took only 36 hours from contacting the film company, negotiating the price, determining the contract, to developing the product special page, and watching the stress test online. Most of the work is done online through Feishu.

Since the collaborative office products have effectively promoted the promotion of enterprise projects and epidemic prevention in a special period, the public's attention on it has risen sharply, and the relevant topics has gradually risen.

However, after the fresh period, the public opinion field's discussion about collaborative office has declined, but the public opinion's popularity does not mean that the collaborative office product's popularity in practical applications.

In-depth understanding of the essence of collaborative office is not difficult to find that the discussion of collaborative office is essentially a discussion of working methods. Collaborative office has become a general tool for all employees during the epidemic. However, from the fundamental purpose of improving work efficiency, collaborative office is becoming an increasingly important office tool for people, and reshaping the existing way of working.

Telecommuting has become a trend

Compared with the definition of "just needed", collaborative office tools actually represent a more appropriate working method.

For users of collaborative office products, tools can be substituted, but the working methods formed by the tools will reshape the work of enterprises, organizations, and institutions.

Take the most common scene "meeting" at work as an example. Many people complain about it. Most of the complaints share the same direction: procrastination, low efficiency and waste of time. Meeting efficiency is a problem for almost all companies. A typical scenario is that the speaker follows the PPT, but the content covered by PPT is limited, and the efficiency of information transmission depends on the level of the speaker. People under the stage can only listen to the report.

In order to improve the efficiency of the meeting, Amazon created a unique meeting method. The general process is to disable PPT. The presenter prepares a "six-page memo" before the meeting and distributes it to the participants at the beginning of the meeting. After the participants silently read, participants discussed various information and problems. The first mock exam is more efficient and more efficient than traditional PPT conference.

The "Amazon Meeting Method" fully demonstrates the extent to which tools can shape the way of working. With the advent of collaborative office products, there is an advanced solution to the improvement of meeting efficiency.

For example,ByteDance, which has always emphasized the importance of tools, is based on the fact that Feishu has popularized the new meeting method "Feiyuehui". The so-called "Feiyuehui" is a complete record of the meeting to be discussed with a collaborative document before the meeting. Issues and documents will be sent to the meeting group automatically created by the calendar. Within 15 to 20 minutes of the start of the meeting, the participants first read the meeting agenda together and mark and comment on the collaboration document. After everyone knows the content and issues of the meeting, the next stage of interactive discussion begins, and then a conclusion is formed to implement.

Compared to inefficient speech-style meetings, the "Feiyuehui" focuses on the content and problems in the document, and it is not easy to run off the topic; the interaction and question and answer are fully recorded in the collaborative document, which is convenient for review and sharing after the meeting, and overall efficiency higher.

The product support of "Feiyuehui" is functions such as collaborative documents and video conferencing. In other words, a new conference mode similar to "Feiyuehui" can be realized as long as participants use collaborative office tools.

For any business or organization, improving efficiency is a common goal, which means that collaborative office tools have long-term value.

Whether it is Amazon's "six-page memo" or ByteDance's "Feiyuehui", it is essentially an act of changing office methods and improving office efficiency by using office tools. Interestingly, Amazon and ByteDance, which actively seek changes in office methods, belong to the category of digital economy, it reflects the industry trend to a certain extent.

According to the "White Paper on Future Enterprise Efficiency" released by IDC, by 2022, more than 60% of global GDP will be digital, and the growth of each industry will be driven by digitally enhanced products, operations, and relationships. Compared with the working mode formed in the traditional industrial society, the operation mode of the digital economy puts forward higher requirements on the working mode. IDC mentioned that the traditional working mode needs to be further adapt to the digital working mode brought by the digital transformation.

From this perspective, as the digital economy has become mainstream and digital transformation has become the core strategy of enterprises, collaborative office will not be a temporary choice under a special window period, and the use of related tools will continue to run through the process of industrial upgrading.

New generation will become the main force of collaborative office

IDC pointed out that in the digital transformation, the young people represented by millennials and Generation Z are the main participants.

At present, millennials and younger generation Z have entered the workplace one after another. The new generations who have grown up in the Internet wave are naturally more familiar with digital tools. They have long been accustomed to using social media and IM tools to communicate with family and friends anytime and anywhere. 

Polycom once pointed out in the collaborative technology trend prediction report that millennials have the greatest impact on the workplace in the future. They are good at using advanced communication technology, and they are more inclined to communicate and learn through video. According to the survey, 78% of millennials believe that technology will make their work more effective and hope to have a communication and collaboration experience comparable to their daily life in the workplace.

IDC pointed out that by 2025, digital workers represented by millennials and Generation Z will account for more than 70%, becoming the main component of the global workforce.

The new generation is the core group that supports the future development of the enterprise. It is difficult to imagine how these young people who are used to the trendy Internet products can tolerate the traditional office systems. If an enterprise cannot provide an attractive collaborative work experience, it will lose its competitive advantage in talent recruitment.

A good collaborative office experience is a necessary means to "grasp" the new generation workers, and most of the digital needs of the new generation workers are focused on: surpassing the traditional office scene, realizing communication and cooperation anytime and anywhere, and reducing repetitive work.

Going beyond the traditional office scene means that in the future work space, work is no longer limited to spaces such as office buildings and meeting rooms, and mobile office will become the norm.

However, since the demand for team collaboration is still there, how to transform the collaboration model formed by the tangible office into an invisible and borderless collaboration model testes the product design capabilities of collaboration tools.

The industry-wide solution is to create a common collaborative environment through instant messaging, video conferencing, and online documents. SaaS service providers of China's agricultural trade began to return to work as early as February 2. They tried to use Feishu's "online office" voice real-time communication to restore office work scenes and collaborate. In terms of practical effects, Wu Min, the CEO of Cai Xiaomi, once said that during remote office, the management will use the "online office" to conduct real-time brainstorming every Saturday. Monday is a regular video meeting for all employees, with a fixed theme, but in the "online office" it would be more immediate and more sporadic.

It is worth noting that although collaborative tools can improve efficiency in specific tasks, the phenomenon of duplication of labor is still prominent. Due to the large number of collaboration tools, everyone has their own preferences. Six or seven collaboration tools may appear in a project, making it difficult for the team to communicate and align. Tool break-in will generate additional time, and the dispersal of tools is not uniform, which will result in the inability to precipitate information and the inability to manage the knowledge assets of teams and enterprises.

The main collaborative office products on the market, such as Dingtalk, WeChat Work and Feishu, provide comprehensive solutions. For example, during the epidemic, Nreal uses the health report function of Feishu to count the health status of employees, and uses Feishu document tables to count shifts and feedback. After resuming work, Nreal also replaced the original paper form with Master Feishu Scanner to achieve resumption of work attendance. Compared with the previous situation where multiple tools are parallel, the introduction of collaborative tools has improved the overall efficiency of Nreal.

It can be seen that in the context of industrial upgrading and the entry of new generations of digital workers into the workplace, the working methods formed in the industrialization era are in urgent need of change, and the epidemic only accelerates and magnifies the changes.

In this sense, the final competition of collaborative office products is the understanding of the new generation of office methods. Behind the collaborative office products, which company has the most thorough understanding of the new generation of office methods, who can share the dividend of the industrial transformation of the times.

This is an article from WeChat official accounts Deep Echo(ID: deep-echo), written by Hong Jian, translated by Chris Yuan.