Home office and remote work have been slowly increasing over the last few years due to technological advances, globalization, and reduced infrastructure costs. But now, with the sudden need for social distancing and quarantine, millions of workers have been sent out into the wild, with little or no time to prepare for all that means.
Everybody currently, but in particular all those brave managers and business owners with responsibility to their teams, is doing their best to deal with this new situation. These decision makers are not usually the ones who deal with IT, and all of a sudden they are faced with a jungle of possible tools to save the day.
It’s easy to focus on the inconveniences of change, but change is also a great catalyst to question the wisdom of old habits and make way for innovation.
This article is meant to be both educational and inspiring, to make clear that all the Skypes and Slacks that support human-to-human conversation are not always the best and only solution.
Here to Stay? Remote working beyond disaster management.
Experts estimate cost saving of on average $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. This is a combination of lower real estate and infrastructure costs, higher attendance and productivity rates, reduced turnover, and, yes, better preparedness for disaster.
As corporations realize the cost-saving and personnel benefits of working from home, the shift to remote work is expected to last beyond a temporary crisis workaround solution. The workplace of the 21st century will become any time, anywhere. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review,
The coronavirus pandemic is expected to fundamentally change the way many organizations operate for the foreseeable future. As governments and businesses around the world tell those with symptoms to self-quarantine and everyone else to practice social distancing, remote work is our new reality.
Of course, not all jobs are entirely adapted to remote work, and face time still has a great value across roles. As companies find the right balance between remote and on-site work, they need to adopt tools that can provide a smooth interaction between employees, wherever they are.
There are plenty of tools out there to facilitate Home Office, designed to enable employees to connect easier for virtual meetings, to communicate progress and much more. However, providing those solutions requires supporting the team as they adapt to new tools and procedures. In an everyday situation, this is a valuable, though time-consuming, process.
As of now, we are socially obligated to take a step back from our normal procedures, leaving millions of employees questioning how to efficiently do their jobs and employers worldwide faced with the task of educating their teams in this crisis.
Here to Stay. Digital Assistants made with Conversational AI
Whether it’s questions about the Corona virus itself, how to use all those new tools or how to hand in receipts for expenses office-based employees aren’t used to, the uncertainties are overwhelming. There are so many questions to answer, and most often not even enough time for managers and employers to keep up with the news, much less to take the valuable time to answer employees’ questions and allay their fears.
To confront the challenge of working with a remote team, management needs to support employees not just technologically, but also psychologically and socially. But they can’t do it alone.
As Conversational AI gets more powerful, with proven use cases across industries and roles, Digital Assistants are up to the task. Digital Assistants, also called virtual or intelligent agents, go far beyond simple chatbots that answer basic questions and give information that could otherwise be found on the company website or Intranet. They can provide up-to-the-minute information from a variety of sources, provide tips for working productively, and get workers instant access to the tools and resources they need to work.
Digital Assistants also act as virtual secretaries, performing tasks for employees: organize their day, plan meetings and phone calls, request time off, and install or troubleshoot all these new software tools. In addition, thoughtful Digital Assistants should be given a Personality, which both provides your company with a consistent face and provides emotional and social support to remote employees.
Corporations looking to go further can create an entire Digital Support System, offering assistants to help with HR, IT, Financial, and other company-wide or department-specific tasks.
The Digital Assistant’s tasks and knowledge can grow to continually meet employees needs. So once the world gets back to normal, they can get back to assisting employees with other everyday tasks: planning face-to-face meetings, organizing events, and booking travel. Whether employees are in the office or remote full or part-time, or even working as a temp or freelance contractor, Digital Assistants will remain an indispensable resource to the post-Corona workforce.
Supporting Remote Workers in Times of Crisis and Beyond
Remote working is here to stay, and so is Conversational AI. The time has come to realize how important both will be in the future of work.
The Corona Virus has thrown us into an unimaginable situation in the space of a few days. No one has it all figured out yet and there’s a lot to deal with. Companies who can not only survive this crisis, but use it as a catalyst to look into innovative ideas they ignored until now are the ones who will succeed and grow as time goes on.
It’s easy to maintain the status quo, because it’s comfortable. Until something happens, and then it isn’t anymore. Now is the time to make quick decisions to deal with the current situation. Keep in mind the importance of making these decisions sustainable for the future.
Digital Assistants will help employees with today’s challenges, and then they will grow and learn with us even after Corona. Life is ever-changing. So is business. This time next year, we will no longer need to address the exact topics our employees need right now. Digital Assistants have to be able to adapt just like humans do.
This is our forte. Our user-friendly platform lets anyone create a Digital Assistant without any special IT or programming knowledge, which means that anyone can give it the up-to-the-minute information employees need in changing times. We are proud to see our platform being used by many small and big companies and encouraged by the results they achieve. We look forward to watching the results our clients achieve both in times of need and beyond.
Everything is very new and overwhelming, but soon home office will be routine, and Digital Assistants will be the daily companions who make remote work less stressful and more productive.
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This is the first article in a series about use cases for Digital Assistants and how we can use this current situation to build sustainable solutions that will help us long after the pandemic.
If you are interested in learning more about this or have a story to tell about your experiences with Digital Assistants and specifically how they improved your business post and subscribe to #ChatbotsToTheRescue or write us a message at hi (at) blackout (dot) ai