Tech Companies That Enabled Remote Work in 2020 – Built In - Freelance Rack

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Tech Companies That Enabled Remote Work in 2020 – Built In

For many enterprise organizations, 2020 has been the ultimate test of agility and scrappiness under pressure. The initial logistical scramble to comply with stay-at-home orders has morphed into a long-term strategic challenge to anticipate how COVID-19 will affect industries in the future. 

As professionals across the country enter their sixth month of working from home, we checked in with leaders at companies building the products and services that have enabled that mass work-from-home transition. They include cybersecurity software providers, work-from-home hardware distributors, cloud-based collaboration tools and even platforms to help parents find safe childcare services in a pinch. 

The leaders describe workplaces that are finding new ways to collaborate and connect with coworkers beyond the standard video conference, adapting to malleable work schedules and securing business networks newly distributed across thousands of endpoints and home offices. The adoption of hybrid cloud technology is also accelerating, as businesses balance security concerns against the need to access data and documents from anywhere. 

Taken together, their responses paint a picture of hastened digital transformation, an ongoing redefinition of company culture and the possible end of the 9 to 5 workday as we know it. 

 

tricia han care.com
Care.com

Tricia Han, Chief Product Officer at Care.com

 

Which of your products or services has seen the largest user growth since businesses started transitioning to work-from-home?

Back in mid-March, when staying at home became the norm, none of us knew how long this would last. Fast forward to May, when states began to reopen and parents were returning to their workplaces, one thing became abundantly clear: Childcare is essential to our economic recovery. Without it, parents cannot work. And if they don’t work, businesses can’t operate. At the same time, the pandemic forced daycares to close — many of them permanently — and those that are reopening face a tough road. A Care.com survey conducted in May found 63 percent of families were hesitant to return their children to group care settings. 

As a result, many families turned to in-home childcare, so they could better control the environment. We saw a triple-digit percent surge in families joining the Care platform. We’ve also seen a rise in displaced teachers, daycare workers and camp counselors seeking employment through Care.com. This is making in-home childcare more abundant and accessible during a critical time for families. 

We also saw employers stepping up to do more to support their teams. Since March, our [email protected] enterprise team has added new corporate clients reaching more than 800,000 employees, who are now receiving subsidized care benefits like backup childcare and Care.com memberships.

 

When we began working from home it was clear that our collaborative energy could transcend this new normal…”

 

What tools and strategies has your own team found useful during this extended work-from-home period?

Care is a fast-paced, highly collaborative environment, and even before the pandemic our team was distributed among multiple cities and countries. When we began working from home it was clear that our collaborative energy could transcend this new normal, so we embraced a “remote first” approach to work for the long term as we realized that our team could live anywhere while making important contributions to our business. We leverage Slack, Zoom and Miro among other tools to enable easy connections and efficiency. Beyond our core work, our team has also gotten behind supporting our communities through this pandemic, rallying behind the BLM movement and mobilizing for the Presidential election this November. 

All of these critical touchpoints speak to our mission-driven team and have led to important innovations these last few months. We partnered with state governments and local and non-profit groups to provide free access to our platform so essential workers could find caregivers. We’re working to make it easier for families to “pod” together in shared care arrangements that not only supplement care and schooling but also make care more affordable. We started a product equality task force to find and root out any unintended bias or discrimination in our systems. And we’re currently working on a wide-reaching initiative to help get out the vote in November.

 

synechron
Synechron

Ravnit Singh Kohli, Managing Director of Technology at Synechron

 

Which of your products or services has seen the largest user growth since businesses started transitioning to work-from-home?

Although digital banking isn’t something new, people have flocked to online and mobile banking in a big way recently. This has led banks to focus more on digitization to enable a more customized and contextual experience — whether it be the client onboarding experience, the home loan process or virtual relationship managers. 

The sudden uptick in online and mobile traffic has created outages, and they’re not just limited to retail banking. Banks have also had to deal with a surge in trading volumes given the increased trading volatility in recent months. This is causing banks to reexamine their infrastructure and technology landscape to ensure resiliency and business continuity. The need for financial firms to modernize their IT infrastructure to provide a reliable, resilient infrastructure is now more important than ever.

We have also seen an increase in migration to cloud-based systems. Hybrid cloud models are especially gaining a lot of prominence, given that organizations can reap the benefits of both private and public cloud environments. This gives banks the much-needed security for sensitive information to remain on-premises and provides the resiliency and scalability for everything else to be on cloud. While many mission-critical workloads run on mainframe architecture, moving to the cloud offers increased business agility, reduced operational risk and access to new technologies — such as data analytics and AI.  

Instead of clients pausing their projects due to the pandemic, there is actually an accelerated desire to increase critical deployments. The quick adoption of enterprise mobility tools and services while working from home has improved productivity and utilization of resources in a significant way. The current climate has forced banks to digitize further and faster, and Synechron has been able to ride this wave with our clients.

 

As part of Synechron’s own hybrid cloud strategy, some of our non-core and seasonal applications were transitioned to the cloud environment and migrated to AWS and Azure.”

 

What tools and strategies has your own team found useful during this extended work-from-home period?

As part of Synechron’s own hybrid cloud strategy, some of our non-core and seasonal applications were transitioned to the cloud environment and migrated to AWS and Azure. This facilitated scalable computing when required and reduced it when not in use, thereby inducing performance and cost optimization.

We also developed a series of virtual events, including: “Knowledge Sessions” taught by Synechron experts across the world, trivia quizzes, scavenger hunts, a variety of art workshops and “Ask Me Anything” sessions where employees can ask pointed questions. These are carefully scheduled to keep employees connected without contributing to “Zoom fatigue.”

 

 

leon adato solarwinds
SolarWinds

Leon Adato, Head Geek at SolarWinds

 

Which of your products or services has seen the largest user growth since businesses started transitioning to work-from-home?

At the very start of the transition, IT departments were only responsible for connectivity to the tools and services that employees relied on, so there was a lot of interest around VPNs and on-premises networks. But once it was clear remote work would extend to weeks and possibly months, those IT teams realized they needed options for providing support when a simple cubicle visit was no longer an option. At that point, we got a lot of questions about remote control software, ticket systems and how to automate processes — whether it was employee workflows or responses to a problem in the data center that was no longer a keycard swipe away. 

Many companies now have their arms around the day-to-day operations. There’s growing interest in optimizing internal applications and services either to move them to the cloud where they’re more easily accessible, or to increase use of other SaaS tools because businesses realize there’s much to be gained by being there too.

Through it all, the interest in monitoring — the systematic collection of metrics and data from devices and applications — has only grown. There are two areas of particular interest in that regard. First, there’s the need to “fix the internet” — IT folks know that even if it’s a SaaS-based offering, they’re still on the hook if it’s not working as expected. Nobody wants to hear the ISP is having an outage and that’s why the sales team can’t bring up CRM information. So the ability to see every hop on the route between the user and the remote service has been invaluable.

But it’s not enough to know how much bandwidth a site or system is consuming. It’s essential to understand where data is going and coming from. NetFlow is the answer for that. Having a tool that makes it easy to display those breakdowns and show them alongside other aspects of the environment — such as firewall rules or customer activity — is what makes the difference between raw data and actionable information.

 

“It was nice having all the tools we make right at our fingertips when we needed them.”

 

What tools and strategies has your own team found useful during this extended work-from-home period?

SolarWinds has always been a company of IT folks who get excited to solve problems we ourselves have experienced. In the first half of 2020 SolarWinds teams have gotten the chance to really “drink our own champagne.” And I have to tell you, it was nice having all the tools we make right at our fingertips when we needed them.

In addition, we discovered our help desk processes had to be tweaked — or overhauled in some cases —  since a “shouting over cubicle walls” workflow was no longer an option. This forced us to rely more heavily on our ticket solution, and to build or expand on the workflow automation.

It was equally important to automatically establish baselines from the data so we could identify what “normal” looked like for each system, service and application. We could then set thresholds for alerting keyed to a deviation from baseline, rather than a fixed value. Doing that allowed us to be certain that when a ticket was created, there was a data-validated issue in need of attention.

 

marshae mansfield lenovo
Lenovo

Marshae Mansfield, Vice President & Chief Customer Officer at Lenovo

 

Which of your products or services has seen the largest user growth since businesses started transitioning to work-from-home?

Since March we have seen unprecedented demand for PCs, digital learning devices and monitors for optimal productivity as students and employees suddenly transitioned to remote work and distance learning environments. According to the “Technology and the Evolving World of Work” research study commissioned by Lenovo, 77 percent of employees think that companies will allow remote work even post-COVID, so many people are investing in reliable devices to remain productive during the pandemic and beyond.

 

“It’s also important that people maintain a work-life balance.”

 

What tools and strategies has your own team found useful during this extended work-from-home period?

First, utilizing video conferencing has kept us connected with our customers as everyone adjusts to a new work-from-home environment. Given this dynamic, it’s also important that people maintain a work-life balance. At Lenovo, our employees can work with their managers to adjust their working hours to fit their individual needs. For example, some employees need a few hours away from work during the daytime to take care of their children or assist with schoolwork, and can focus more on their own work during the evening. 

Digital fatigue is also a challenge, as all meetings are now virtual. We encourage our teams to change where they work throughout the day to boost productivity and schedule time to go on a walk and take time for themselves.

 

Build Your Dispersed OrgRead More Remote Work Stories Here

 

ust global chief commercial officer
UST Global

Robert Dutile, Chief Commercial Officer of UST Global

 

Which of your products or services has seen the largest user growth since businesses started transitioning to work-from-home?

We have seen an evolution of demand since the beginning of the crisis. Companies have moved from simply reacting at first to consciously investing in flexibility and business resilience. At the beginning of this work-from-home era, the demand was for our remote monitoring, support and cybersecurity services. Longer coverage hours were needed to support the varied hours of an at-home workforce, as well as support for quick resolution of many network, connectivity and access issues. We also had to monitor new end points for security, along with the assessment, remediation and patching of new devices.

After the initial rush of demand for remote infrastructure support, there was significant demand on our data services. Pre-COVID analytic models are now less useful, and we have developed new models and faster insights to deal with changing conditions, especially for supply chains and consumer monitoring and engagement. There has also been increased demand for cloud migration, multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructure management. Data and application migration services have increased well above original growth projections for 2020. PACE, our product for implementing and optimizing cloud-native DevOps has also taken off.

 

“The key aspect was working through the security policies and demonstrating the strength of our cybersecurity posture.”

 

What tools and strategies has your own team found useful during this extended work-from-home period?

At UST Global, we have the advantage of an up-to-date global network, a history of remote work and complete business continuity plans based on our specific services to clients.  Equipping some employees with specialized equipment at home and enabling remote access to new client site locations were initially most important. The key aspect was working through the security policies and demonstrating the strength of our cybersecurity posture to clients in order to successfully transition even the most sensitive work to a home environment.



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