Entire companies working from home: that must represent a DSP opportunity?

via Flickr ©  John "Pathfinder" Lester (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © John "Pathfinder" Lester (CC BY 2.0)

  • Yes it certainly does, says at least one company
  • Assia is tackling the emerging WFH trend from its base in Wi-Fi management
  • From here it claims it can ease any future lockdown blues, help create a positive work experience and even use collected data to improve workflow

Assia Technologies made its name managing Internet and home network connectivity. It claims its systems now touch over 120M households worldwide. 

Hardly surprising them that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have presented it with what it sees as an unmissable opportunity to develop and repackage its existing management platform to meet the technical and managerial needs of teams and their managers. 

It’s clearly a response to what the world now appears to be calling the ‘new normal’. Meaning, “we’re not quite sure what the new normal will actually be yet, but we’re pretty sure that it’s going to involve lots more flexible and home working (WFH),” (at least for that increasing proportion of the population that spends most of its working day staring into a screen and tapping away on a keyboard, as I am doing right now).  

What happened, which nobody expected before this March, was that (nearly) everyone who could, started homeworking at the same time.  Now that’s what you could call a sudden market opportunity for someone. Assia believes it could be the ‘someone’.

What’s required now, it believes, is a structured service in response to the one big thing we know has changed: what was previously thought of as a sort of a perk (OK, we’ll let you work from home) was very soon on the way to becoming a corporate requirement due to the ‘new normal’ . 

As Assia points out, that requirement has brought new challenges to ISP residential service delivery, business IT operations, and productivity of remote teams.

So Assia claims it’s used its already extensive knowledge of all the homeworking problems and advantages, to build a home connectivity platform that directly addresses work-from-home productivity and brings business grade reliability to residential networks. 

The resulting solution, Equipe, Assia claims is the Industry's first Work-From-Home residential connectivity management platform for SMB & enterprise markets. 

And of course Assia needs partners, including  telcos and Digital Service Providers (DSPs),  to get the solution to market.  

Lessons learnt

There was already a large base of homeworkers out there. According to Tuncay Cil, Assia’s Chief Strategy Officer, there were 25 million people in the US already working from home before the pandemic struck. That represented about 6% of employees. That number mushroomed to over 50% during the lockdown and is currently at about 30 per cent post lockdown. 

That alone represents a huge potential market especially since employees forced through circumstance to work from home often have a long list of complaints about terms and conditions that will have to be taken into account to ease the path to the new normal. 

According to Cil, the first priority was toilet paper, and the second problem was technical difficulties with WFH connections.

On the corporate upside to WFH,  Assia lists reduction of various office related expenses, payroll savings, increases in productivity and expansion of the global workforce. The cost of workspace can be up to $10,000 per US employee per year, so there’s plenty of room to subsidise home work space. 

Taken overall though the new normal is not simply about savings, but can be about building a better understanding of work itself and how changes can be made to improve the work experience to benefit both employee and employer. 

Having established that just to manage the technical arrangements (connectivity, software, work furniture and devices) Assia calculates most employers could easily see their way to investing $50 per employee per week. That’s without the follow-on advantages Assia claims it can provide in terms of understanding, monitoring and improving workflow via its management system. 

“We collect vast amounts of data and we can align that to how well the employee is enjoying the experience,” said one Assia executive. 

Nobody wants to admit it, but by separating employees physically and then monitoring all their actions you end up with a storehouse of behavioural data that can be used to gain insights and improve overall performance. Using these tools responsibly to avoid the ‘s’ word (surveillance) is clearly going to be tricky. 

However, there are good signs. The early stage of the new normal has already seen many thinkers and top managers demonstrate a readiness to address new definitions of work and, indeed, new definitions of normal. The best meme I’ve seen so far which provides a step forward in thinking is “Work is not a ‘place’. Work is output.” 

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