Experts Speak Up on What You Need To Know When Moving To Remote Work and Virtual Connection

As part of our continued coverage on COVID-19 and its impact on business continuity and remote work, we spoke with three industry experts on how the shift in the ways we work and connect are changing the day-to-day for them.


Amber Gunst, CEO, Austin Technology Council, on the Importance of Multiple Platforms

At this point with a large number of people moving to remote work, web conferencing is mandatory. It’s not even a question of whether you have it. The question right now is, do you need to diversify your web conferencing tools? My director of marketing was to jump on a webinar for event marketing people to talk about how to weather this COVID-19 situation, and how to be able to survive that. Because we put on a lot of events that’s our core of what we do. She logged on to the call and nothing was happening. So she’s on a video call and still nothing’s happening. She sat there for five minutes and never got started. And nothing showed up because so many people had logged onto the platforms to take part of this because of what’s going on in the hospitality and events industry that it crashed their system.

They sent out an e-mail to everybody about an hour after the call was scheduled basically saying, ‘Hey, we’re really sorry, this is what happened.’ And we look at it as a learning experience because we’re doing virtual roundtables right now so we can keep our members engaged with each other, get some facts out to them and get some best practices of what they should be doing right now. And we were like, okay, so we need to have a backup system in case the main system shuts down that we can easily send out a link and deploy everything.

That was a learning experience for us because we’re going to do this. We can’t just count on the primary one to work if that system goes down because so many people are trying to use it. So I think if you’re a private company, whether it’s hundreds or thousands of employees, you need to understand that every other company is using web conferencing systems and that diversifying what you’re using is important.

Kjierstin Layton, Global Accounts Manager, Vyopta, on Measuring Productivity

How are companies going to evaluate productivity while their teams are working remotely, since productivity equals revenue. How do you know that the remote worker is actually working? A lot of companies like technology and video communication platforms but if you put someone in an environment they’ve never been in or worked in before, how do you measure that productivity? Some people can already work from home but typically don’t and that’s a whole new adoption of a new environment.

Are they as productive in those eight hours as they’re being paid for, as they would have been in the office or the hospital? If we’re giving them resources like a platform for soft clients to connect, or Zoom or Cisco or whatever you do, is it of value and is it in balance? Because if they’re not using it then you’re not getting the productivity you need as an organization out of that employee. You have to be able to measure and evaluate that.

Paul O’Brien, CEO, MediaTech Ventures, on Connecting to the World

What has happened is, our entire world has been encouraged to explore, to figure this COVID-19 thing out and make it work. If you think about the streaming, virtual experience itself, we’ve already put in place all that matters. There’s video capture or the call quality, a little bit of chat function, maybe a VR kind of thing but there really isn’t that much new in the last five years.

That begs the question to ask, why weren’t all of these people aggressively adopting this stuff two years ago? Why did it take us being stuck at home to go, oh, man, this stuff could be really valuable? The answer at the end of the day, is unless that live stream experience comes with an audience then it’s really only as valuable as a virtual meeting room or office space. I get on and Zoom with my team all the time because it’s just like being in the office. But that’s it because each of the platforms are more or less the same.

What everybody is looking for is whether or not that platform gets me an audience easily. And the fact is, they don’t. Most of them don’t do it right. And what I’m putting out there is that none of them effectively integrate with Twitter and Twitch and Facebook and YouTube and the rest so that I’m if I’m going to do a virtual event or livestreaming event, all I got to do is push a button and boom, I’m streaming to audiences everywhere. As people are picking these platforms, they’re really just comparing apples to apples. What I really want and none of them are doing is to very easily reach the world so it’s no different than physical, real world events. What’s still missing in the space is that what people really need is getting the reach of the audience.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vyopta is currently offering a free trial to help IT teams support massive expansion in remote work.


Chad Swiatecki

Chad Swiatecki is a business writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Daily News, Austin Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman and many other print and online publications. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Find him online on LinkedIn.