Our Virtual Lives: The Training Wheels Are Now Coming Off

If, thirty days ago, you’d asked anyone in the tech industry if we live in cloud-based virtual communities, the answer would almost certainly have been yes. They would have been right (sort of).

As it turns out, the training wheels are now coming off of our virtual lives, and this has been happening in a way that was unpredictable to many of us. The need to leverage the cloud and to communicate virtually has become something much more that a convenient way of communicating with people next door or across the world.

We are now coming to grips with something that many people are calling the “New Normal.” I hope that this doesn’t really become what social normalcy is all about, but I can’t find any real data that supports my wish. I won’t cite the numbers here and, if I did, they’d be outdated by the time I click the Send button. But we’re looking at new ways of working, so that people can remain at home and social interactions can be sharply curtailed. Many of us are trying to avoid people on the street and in stores as a means of avoiding a threat we can’t see. Others are going about their daily lives as though nothing were amiss. One side accuses the other of fear mongering, while the other side responds with claims of denial. The ultimate wisdom of either position won’t be clear for quite a while.

The good news is that we live in a tech-focused world in which people can interact electronically – sending text, audio, or video. If we’re going to find good fortune in anything about our situation, this is where it lives. They certainly did not have these capabilities during the Influenza Outbreak of 1918, or during any of the plagues that preceded it.

But there is a lot to be proud of, as individuals and companies are stepping up to help facilitate the remote workforce.

For example:

  • 8×8 is offering free meetings.
  • CallTower is providing free video conferencing solutions accompanied with a promise of quick deployment.
  • CBTS is offering a free month of service
  • Dialpad is offering free conferencing service for a limited time.
  • EvolveIP is offering a free Teams collaboration license during the outbreak
  • LogMeIn is providing its Emergency Remote Work Kit free of charge for three months.
  • Masergy is running a special UC and VPN promo
  • RingCentral has a 3-year package for education healthcare and non-profits
  • Vonage is providing up to 250 free licenses for three months
  • Zoom is lifting the 40-minute limit on basic accounts for K-12 schools

Even with all these options, you’ll still need to do your prep work. Your business continuity plan should be in place by now and, if it’s not, you’re late! You’ll also need to assess your workflows and develop strategies for how to accommodate key employees I the event their homes have insufficient bandwidth. But by working together, as demonstrated by the companies listed above, we will get to the other side of this pandemic, and institute yet another New Normal, which will hopefully be a lot more……..normal.