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3/24/2020
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How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19

Disruptive ideas can give organizations ways to maintain operations in a time of quarantines and social distancing.
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Enterprises working through the confusion stirred by outbreaks of COVID-19 may find some solace in technology and strategies born from the startup scene. The following slideshow presents a sliver of the resources developed by startups that enterprises might benefit from during this trying time.

The struggle to maintain some semblance of normalcy can extend to every part of an organization and the evolving nature of the pandemic makes it hard to find a clear path to follow.

Some enterprises may already be on a path to operating more remotely and virtually, thanks to digital transformation strategies frequently inspired by startup innovations. There are startups that can help enterprises find remote workers with in-demand technical expertise or even offer online curriculum to advance their technical skillsets. Current events might necessitate the acceleration of these moves and further exploration of such resources.

Many teams and departments have turned to remote communications resources such as Zoom for teleconferencing as more people are directed to work from home, but what about support for other needs?

Going remote

It is no secret that remote working was already gaining momentum before recent events. Many enterprises tend to require most of their staff to operate from company offices but remote work, even outside of quarantines, is seeing increased adoption according to GitLab, developer of an application that accelerates the DevOps life cycle. Earlier this month, GitLab issued a report on a survey of some 3,000 professionals in roles with digital output who work remotely or have the option to work remotely. According to the report, more than one quarter of respondents worked for all-remote organizations. Furthermore, 52% of respondents indicated they were less likely to travel and believed they were more productive as remote workers.

Image: GitLab
Image: GitLab

Darren Murph, head of remote for GitLab, says the report was created to help leaders understand remote workers. The rolling lockdowns, quarantines, and self-isolation in response to the spread of COVID-19 has heightened the need to advance on remote working. “It used to be an elitist perk,” he says. “What is happening now in our society just accelerated that to the mainstream by at least 10 years.”

Murph says the report can help leaders understand why remote workers tend to express great loyalty towards a company that offers such employment options. “There’s this notion that all remote workers are Instagram famous, digital nomads who just want to work from a beach in Bali,” Murph says. “Data shows most remote workers are everyday folks. They just want freedom, autonomy, and flexibility they cannot get in a collocated role.”

Improvements and increased availability of remote working tools let more professionals tackle tasks that might have been a challenge a few years prior, he says. “Working remotely in 2007 was a challenge. You had to want it. It was painful. Now the infrastructure is just there.” High bandwidth solutions are more readily available, and platforms can accommodate video calls with hundreds of participants, Murph says. “That would have been impossible to imagine just five years ago.”

The flipside to such progress is when companies assume remote does not work because they do not invest in it, he says. “It makes sense to build a remote infrastructure and implement remote practices even if you don’t intend to hire remote workers right away,” Murph says. “Everyone can now see, you better start planning for a time when people are going to reject your job offers because you don’t offer that flexibility.”

The roster of startups that follows offers a variety of other resources enterprises may find useful as they regroup and reorient their operations.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career immersed in business and technology journalism first covering local industries in New Jersey, later as the New York editor for Xconomy delving into the city's tech startup community, and then as a freelancer for such outlets as ... View Full Bio

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