The past few months have definitely been a challenge around the world, as health experts attempt to get ahead of the coronavirus. As the pandemic continues to spread and people take to their homes, businesses are being forced to adapt and make drastic changes to stay afloat.
During this time, virtual office and automation tools can help businesses stay productive without employees having to overwork from not being in the office. Luckily for us, Tencent, Alibaba, and ByteDance are offering office productivity tools designed to support remote work and help you stay connected with your employees.
Virtual tools growth data during COVID-19
China’s enterprise software has been slow in comparison to the West, but has quickly picked up the pace in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Third-party data shows reports of spikes in the usage of office automation tools like Tencent’s WeChat Work, Alibaba’s DingTalk, and ByteDance’s Lark. The rate of DingTalk’s download rate increased the most out of the three platforms by 1,446%, followed by Lark at 6,085%, and then WeChat Work at 572%.
While coronavirus has definitely caused a surge in the need for these apps, it doesn’t hurt that Alibaba and Bytedance are offering free trials for their platforms during the pandemic. Even though businesses will eventually get back to in-person communication, this time period could shine a lot of light on whether these apps will be more of a growing trend that becomes permanent for office productivity.
Tencent – WeChat Work
WeChat Work is an office management and business collaboration and office automation tool that provides a lot of similar experiences as WeChat but offers advanced productivity tools for employees to use. WeChat Work features specific functions to manage internal communication, internal performance, and boost business relations. Your employees can be segmented into different categories and be assigned a permission level based on company authority. Admin staff can take advantage of management features such as setting user roles and receiving access to weekly summary reports.
Alibaba – DingTalk
DingTalk, known as DingDing in Chinese, is an all-in-one app for the workplace and is China’s largest enterprise messenger app. On top of text, voice, and video communication, DingTalk has a wide range of work functions that include a clock-in system, completed tasks report, and automatic expense claim form. DingTalk’s app store also features a lot of third-party providers that offer customer relationship management tools.
ByteDance – Lark
Besides the hottest product like Tiktok and Toutiao, ByteDance recently launched its enterprise productivity app Lark, which has a lot of features that are similar to slack. Lark features include audio and video conference calls, online document creation, approval management, and storage. Furthermore, Lark also offers a total of four subscriptions plans, but is offering the complete package of its services for free until May 1, 2020. One of the biggest advantages of using Lark is that it has the focus on building connectivity. For example, a user can tag a colleague directly to an online document for more streamlined communication.
Benefits of virtual office apps
- Video keeps employees connected. Working from home has always been thought of as a luxury, but when employees are stuck in the house for long periods of time it can have a major impact on productivity. When your employees begin to worry about the duration of having to stay at home, capabilities like high-quality video meetings can be the solution needed to lessen the feeling of isolation. Whether it’s a one-on-one video call or a group video meeting, this type of connection can keep employees motivated and engaged.
- Communication becomes centralized. Since the convenience of employees walking over to each other’s desk is less of an option, providing a centralized hub for communication lowers the miscommunication issues of using multiple channels such as work email, personal email, and text messaging. Your team communication can be segmented by creating chats for various topics and the relevant people. Virtual tools also work seamlessly across all operating systems — PC, Mac, iOS, and Android — making it easy for your employees to communicate.
- Project management and attendance support. Managers can utilize project management tools to ask for updates, share documents, and timelines to assist employees in discussing issues in real-time. Management tools are available to oversee the progress of any project, which ensures that you have a centralized system where no detail about the project gets lost or overlooked. You are also able to track and record employee’s attendance and promote good time management skills while home.
The coronavirus has pushed working from home a growing trend to a necessity for companies that rely on computers for work productivity. Using these types of apps can help your employees to perform at optimal levels and achieve greater execution on projects. This is a unique time period for businesses all across China and having a communication platform that you can launch quickly will help keep your business running effectively in a virtual environment.