Physically absent, yet productive in the digital world
Computer / Bloomberg

With WFH being the new norm due to the Covid-19 outbreak, tools such as Microsoft Teams is ideal for large groups to hold video meetings

by AZALEA AZUAR/ pic by BLOOMBERG

IN 1995, when the film “The Net” was released, not many thought that the concept in the movie would become a reality.

The struggle faced by the main character, Angela Bennet, played by Sandra Bullock — her interpersonal relationships are almost completely online and on the phone — seemed unreal.

Well, the Covid-19 pandemic has somehow allowed us to experience just that, as the term work from home (WFH) becomes the new normal.

What used to be a norm for freelancers and the self-employed is now the way forward for many.

In fact, even before the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of people looking at WFH jobs as a new way of life has been on the increase, especially when it offers great flexibility.

There’d be no need to wake up very early in the morning to beat the traffic, and one could just work in t-shirt and shorts, or even in pyjamas.

However, it might not be that easy for those with children as they would need to balance between taking care of their children and work.

Almost all economic sectors and business activities were able to resume operations on May 4 as long as the standard operating procedures set by the authorities are followed.

Now, with the Movement Control Order (MCO) eased, many workplaces still allow their staff to WFH.

Apart from using emails or WhatsApp to update employees on their tasks, there are also many video conferencing tools to make WFH efficient.

Microsoft Teams is ideal for large groups as it has the capacity to hold video meetings for up to 10,000 people.

Users can also download their meetings and save it into their OneDrive cloud storage as it is compatible with other Microsoft apps.

Microsoft Teams also contains call recording and screen sharing, and it is available for free for six-months under Office 365 E1 trial.

According to a statement by Microsoft Malaysia, its video conferencing tool has more than 75 million daily active users recorded.

Dialog Group Bhd adopted Microsoft Teams as part of its digital initiative roadmap which requires a secure platform that would allow effective communication and collaboration between its employees and customers.

“Having made the shift to Office 365 a few years ago, Microsoft Teams was on our digital initiative roadmap from early on and we envisioned it being fully incorporated in due course,” said Dialog Group senior manager of group IT services Edwin Choy.

Choy had to fast-track their plans and migrate the whole organisation in just one day when the MCO was announced in March, effectively shifting their entire business to Microsoft Teams.

“In doing so, we managed to ensure business continuity as we embrace this new normal of remote working,” Choy explained.

Another big corporation that utilises the same system is Mah Sing Group Bhd. The group uses Microsoft Teams in its effort to shift to the digital work environment while overcoming operational gaps and enhancing work efficiency.

Remote working is relatively new to the company since the staff is used to the traditional brick-and-mortar business.

Mah Sing team members are now open to explore the new system as part of their digitalisation process.

“Microsoft Teams is more than just a tool which changes the way we communicate, it has transformed the way we think about work,” said Mah Sing director of group strategy and operations Rachel Leong.

Leong said the biggest challenge for a large organisation like Mah Sing is keeping everyone in the loop.

However, she said Microsoft Teams has increased transparency across Mah Sing’s job functions and job grades and in turn, fostering high collaboration and trust.

Sunway Group is an organisation with a diverse range of offerings in various industries and they required a robust collaboration and productivity tool that can align and scale well with their dynamic workforce.

The group said Microsoft Teams offered the right solution as the company now has greatly benefited from the adoption of the video conferencing software.

Since the company is already on Office 365, Sunway is now able to take full advantage of their access to Microsoft Teams, minimising the disruption caused by the MCO.

“The key to sustaining business momentum amid the MCO is indeed collaboration,” Sunway Group executive VP for president’s office Evan Cheah said.

“We need to ensure that our workforce has the tools needed to continue working from home, thereby ensuring our clients are receiving the services they require,” he said.

According to Cheah, Microsoft Teams has enabled them to not only engage with their clients, but with one another.

“It kept us closer, broke down silos and facilitated the sharing of information and knowledge, all while ensuring the safety of our employees,” he added.

Sunway recorded an average of 100,000 instant messages exchanged on a normal working day since making the transition to WFH on Microsoft Teams.

In a single week, over 1,500 meetings are conducted on the video conferencing tools across multiple devices which is perfect for Sunway’s diverse and mobile workforce.

We are seeing digital transformation accelerate at a pace that is unprecedented, a positive sign that will help boost our nation’s economy well beyond the MCO, says Raman – pic by TMR FILE

Microsoft Malaysia MD K Raman said the world is currently entering an era where things are done remotely.

“Be it business, leisure or commerce, everything we do today is done remotely, and with the right solution, organisations can certainly sustain themselves even during disruption,” he explained.

Raman believes with the current shift to remote work, the entire world has seen two years’ worth of digital transformation taking place in a span of just two months.

“Even here in Malaysia, we are seeing digital transformation accelerate at a pace that is unprecedented, a positive sign that will undoubtedly help boost our nation’s economy well beyond the MCO,” he said.

In its efforts to offer solutions to small and medium enterprises via the #DigitalVsCovid movement, Microsoft is collaborating with Malaysia Digital Economy Corp. For more information regarding the initiative, you can go to https://mdec.my/digitalvscovid/.