Businesses turn to remote networking in their droves in reaction to COVID-19

Published: 17 March 2020 - 11:17 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

The UAE’s only dedicated, locally-based, conference provider, Meetupcall, has reported a 300 per cent increase in global enquiries and a 500 per cent increase new subscriptions in the UAE since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the outset of 2020, Meetupcall has witnessed a consistent increase in usage from existing customers, specifically those doing business directly with clients or suppliers in China. However, over the last four weeks, total customer usage has seen a 40 per cent week-on-week increase.

According to the conferencing platform’s CEO, it appears, as businesses worldwide tackle operational challenges and economic uncertainty, UAE-based organisations are addressing these hurdles through networking technology.

Discussing how the company’s UAE customers and prospects are responding to the current situation, Meetupcall’s founder and CEO Simon Moxon, said: “Remote working is not a new concept. While more conservative industries such as banking and legal firms have been rooted in traditional office-based working, industries such as technology, marketing agencies and sales organisations have been reaping the benefits of hot-desking and remote working for quite some time. However, during the past two months, we have seen a marked increase in enquiries from businesses recognising the need to embrace change and adapt to the reality that modern, remote working is rapidly becoming the new norm.”

Moxon has observed that lack of trust in employees is the one of most commonly reported reasons why business owners and managers have been reluctant to implement remote and flexible working policies. A recent Gartner survey found only 56 per cent of managers allowed employees to work remotely, despite there being a flexible working policy in place. Moxon advises businesses to be ready to deploy contingency plans for all teams and reassures them that, with the right planning, clear guidelines and an element of trust, productivity will likely increase.

In its latest Emergency Remote Working Guide, Meetupcall advises that once businesses face the reality their operations are changing, mapping out each department and job role based on the necessity of employees needing to have a physical presence in the office will allow them to develop a stringent communications plan. It is then essential an IT audit of remote servers, laptops and mobile phones is carried out to avoid unforeseen data breaches.

Moxon added: “Many of our customers are surprised at how much of their business can function fully without all the team in the same place at the same time. Furthermore, employees remotely working report reduced stress levels and higher productivity rates. In industries where teams require extended periods of uninterrupted time, to prepare documents for example, we have observed that when people have total control of their environment, they are less prone to distractions from colleagues, resulting in increased efficiencies and increased output in the same or less time.”

The Gartner remote working survey showed 64 per cent of working professionals polled were happy to work remotely and when Generation Z fully enter the workforce by 2030, the demand for remote working will increase by 30 per cent. Meetupcall is encouraging businesses to embrace the current shift they are being forced to adapt to, recognising it as an opportunity to identify gaps in their current processes, improve productivity and customer service.

While the benefits of remote working significantly outweigh the challenges, the biggest hurdle faced across all industries is maintaining consistent communication where the natural flow of office conversation and interaction has been removed. To overcome this challenge, Moxon suggests implementing a stringent communications plan for regular one-to-one and team meetings.

To support organisations exploring remote working and increased telecommunications as a way to adapt their businesses, Meetupcall is offering an extended trial period of 30 days on its services for all new customers. This includes a dedicated training and rapid on-boarding to help teams

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