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TECHNOLOGY ISSUE: REMOTE WORK TRENDS (WTC Cyprus)

Mehran Eftekhar; Board Member, WTCA; Director, World Trade Center Cyprus

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Since March 23, Cyprus has been placed under a strict lockdown, closing all airports and ports. Similar to other areas around the world, employees at non-essential businesses, such as WTC Cyprus, have been working remotely. Even with the lockdown now lifted, this way of working is a β€œnew normal.”

As a member of a group operating in 23 countries β€” spanning the European, MENA and APAC regions, the group offers amongst traditional WTC services, Real Estate, Insurance, Reinsurance, Banking and Broking β€” WTC Cyprus offers a multi-layered portfolio of traditional services covering both real estate and trade. Given the scale of lockdown and the scope of our services, we immediately set up a COVID-19 committee that included our risk team, to assess and facilitate alternatives in order to ensure continuation of our operations in a new digital environment. Our first task was to make sure everyone had the correct infrastructure to communicate from their remote work locations in a timely and effective manner with health and safety one of the prime objectives. Other challenges were the health and safety of the business center operations, projects under development with members, transportation, finding suppliers that were in operation, cashflow and expense management, office maintainance, government liason, and compliance with directives. Most government departments closed with employees working remotely.

For our communications efforts, we identified and employed the following platforms to suit our various needs:

External Communications

To communicate with external parties, we have used Zoom (TM), Microsoft Meeting Rooms, and Skype for Business, and found that Zoom (TM) and Microsoft Meetings were the most effective and easiest to use. We also have a WhatsApp (TM) group administered by WTC Cyprus that is widely used internally as well as with member clusters. Further, we have also developed a secured data room facility that our business members can access for B2B product displays.

Phone System

As our telephone system is from Avaya, we made sure everyone had the necessary communication icons enabled on their phones and laptops. This system allows us to answer switchboard incoming calls from home, make calls as if we are calling from the office, contact each other by dialing our extensions, listen to voicemail, and effectively communicate internally as if we were in our offices.

Slack

Our insurance company in Cyprus, which employs more than 300 staff members and agents, as well as WTC Cyprus, chose slack for internal communications. Specifically, it is designed to support collaborations between employees and has voice/video call features, and options where you can share or draw on/annotate your screen. Additionally, you can send and receive files quickly.

Virtual Offices, Exhibitions and Beyond

Currently, we are looking at various platforms for virtual offices and exhibitions. We believe this will be the future trend for online learning and the exhibition of products.

While keeping in mind the importance of data security on all communication platforms, we have found the various platforms mentioned here very effective as we continue to ease the lockdown rules, and continue working remotely. We understand that technology will continue to evolve and are ready to adapt to the new normal as it transpires.

Photo caption: The WTC Cyprus team connects via Zoom (TM). 

Photo credit: WTC Cyprus