These days, work is looking a bit different. The landscape is changing. Offices are empty. Motorways are less condensed as employees don’t rush to 9 am meetings. Yet, productivity continues. Today, we don’t have to connect to our office to receive files and send emails. Meetings today can take place anywhere.
At the end of March, Microsoft hit a daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in just one day. It was a 200% increase from the two weeks prior. For Microsoft’s Teams, who just hit its 3rd anniversary, growth during lockdown was exponential.
Chorus, New Zealand’s largest broadband infrastructure provider, witnessed a similar jump, one they had not seen since Netflix launched into New Zealand in 2015. In only a few weeks, data usage increased by 34% – about a year’s worth of growth. Today, the average monthly data usage for Chorus’ fibre network is around 500GB, which is a sharp increase from the 10 GB average in 2011.
For many of us, this isn’t surprising. What is interesting is what it’s shown to us. Over the years, both Microsoft and Chorus have worked to lay down a foundation to support SME’s for a future we have only been able to hypothesise.
But now, we can glimpse into the future. The future is happening now.
“A lot of the capability has been there, but enterprises, individuals, and employees haven’t fully embraced it. This COVID-19 lockdown has forced everyone to all of a sudden embrace it. It’s brought the future forward,” says Chorus’ Network Strategy Manager, Kurt Rodgers.
With little time to prepare, businesses worked quickly to ensure everything was in place for a new way to work. For Microsoft and Chorus, the nature of the future of work is flexible. It’s one that ensures productivity, collaboration, and communication – no matter where employees are. It requires two things: cloud services and a robust fibre network. With both, everything is available everywhere, no matter where you are.
“In the old days, you’d have to come into the office. You’d be tied to a desk with a computer sitting under it. You’d log on to your network and access your files through a file server,” says Microsoft’s Territory Channel Manager, Paul Bowkett. “The Cloud has done away with that.”
For instance, with Microsoft’s SharePoint, businesses no longer need a file server to access the company’s network. Everything is done in the Cloud, meaning all employees have to do is log in.
Smooth business processes made possible by instant connectivity encompasses the vision behind the modern workplace. Bowkett says modern work is made up of the tools, technology, workspace, and culture supported by cloud-based services.
When everything is accessible anywhere, businesses can continue to move forward. Collaboration and communication are still possible no matter how spread out employees are.
“Teamwork is an umbrella term for how people interact and engage together. So, the idea behind Teams is that. You bring all the things that people do today in different places into one single place. We call it the ‘Hub for Teamwork’,” explains Bowkett.
When everything is in one place, efficiencies increase. However, the demand for speed and data also increases. To Rodgers, it’s one of the fundamentals of the internet.
“What you need today is different from what you need tomorrow,” says Rodgers, “because your needs will continually grow. COVID-19 demonstrates this.”
Whether it’s a small business or a corporate office, the amount of data we’re using is expected to grow exponentially. In preparation, Chorus’ fibre network enables providers to offer businesses a choice of plans, with varying speeds, including the up-and-coming Hyperfibre, to complement the evolving, digital workplace.
Although in different industries, both Microsoft and Chorus have evidence of this. Both trends point towards a demand for connectivity. The future of work is here, and we have the tools to work with the changes. Businesses can continue to be productive in this new era – we can even be more efficient. Most importantly, we can continue to collaborate and grow our businesses without the limitations of the past. The future is here.