Hybrid Working Opportunities for the Channel - Our Roundtable Discussion
Hybrid Working Opportunities for the Channel - Our Roundtable Discussion
Over a year on from the first Covid-19 lockdown, many operations are starting to return to some form of normalcy, and the relationship between organisations, workers and customers is being viewed from a new perspective of interconnectivity and productivity from anywhere.
Sadly, businesses will not return to pre Covid-19 ways of working, which raises a number of fundamental challenges and opportunities for the channel that were uncovered in our recent whitepaper, and further explored during a follow-up roundtable discussion back in April.
The roundtable discussion, hosted by Comms Dealer for their Insight Session, allowed us to talk through with some of our Partners. We had our very own Paul Smith, Head of Partners, David Hatley, Head of Account Management and Louisa Clark, Head of Product Growth from TalkTalk Wholesale Services. We were joined by Pete Tomlinson, CEO, Windsor Telecom, Paul Sinclair, Head of Marketing, Zen Internet, Andy Craven, Managing Director, Merlin Telecommunications, Philip Lee, Head of Wholesale, ITS Technology Group, Alex Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO, Cuckoo Broadband and Kevin Burgess, Product Manager Wide Area Networking, Maintel.
This blog highlights the key findings of the whitepaper, how leading resellers see themselves capitalising from the state of the market and how it’s changing through homeworking.
Hybrid Working is the future
Two thirds expect there to be a permanent shift in working practices towards hybrid working.
Before lockdown, around 75% of employees worked from home less than once a week. Though, tertiary sectors like IT or Business consulting and Management were more likely to leverage remote working and only one in seven (13%) claimed to work from home more than three days per week.
Then, the global pandemic hit and triggered an irreversible shift in behaviour and employees now expect to spend a significant amount of their working time based at home. Three in ten (30%) expect to work from home at least four days per week, rising to half amongst IT workers (49%) and two in five who work in Business consulting (38%) and the Public sector (38%).
“Obviously, FTTP is where the future is going to be. That's where the growth is, that's where the opportunity is... We know that businesses typically double [bandwidth] every two to three years. So, FTTC is not going to cut it.” Kevin Burgess
And as technology experts to our clients and customers, it’s up to the channel to test and advocate the solutions that will help those new homeworking end-users to perform their day-to-day tasks better – whether that’s FTTP, managed cybersecurity or simply a recommendation for hot-desking booking software!
FTTP enables better hybrid working
29% of all homeworkers say they experience some kind of issue with their broadband most of the time they are working at home.
FTTP is the perfect connection for businesses looking to equip homeworkers with reliable connectivity. Not only does it offer a separate connection that wouldn’t be shared with other users in the home, but it provides the key features that businesses demand from their internet services.
We all know how stressful it can be when you’re setting up for an important meeting and you can’t connect, or you’re in a rush and the file you need to download is taking too long. And it is no wonder customers are worried about staff well-being; home broadband unreliability is taking an emotional toll - 43% of homeworkers feel frustrated, 17% feel anxious and 15% feel angry or helpless.
It’s important to note that the move to homeworking hasn’t been perfect for everyone and our whitepaper brought several mental health considerations to light. TalkTalk Wholesale Services recognised this and provided Partners with well-being assets to use in helping their employees adapt to such a fundamental shift in working practices. This was also key topic during the roundtable:
“Businesses can absolutely equip their employees with the best connectivity possible at home. And that's going to alleviate many of the stresses that we saw that people talked about in the white paper.” David Hatley
Visibility and administration capabilities, security safeguards like managed firewalls and proactive threat detection are all vital for global enterprises, but only accessible if they own the connection they manage.
60% of Partners believe it is their responsibility to pay for reliable home broadband if they expect staff to work from home.
By leveraging business-class connectivity at home, operations can not only enhance productivity, security and visibility, but they can also improve the well-being of their employees.
“You can't have your video conference teams calls affected by the kids video gaming...strong and stable internet connectivity is required, and companies should enable their workforces to achieve this.”IT Partner
“You should have the same ability and flexibility of services as you do in the office. It’s an educational issue in trying to get users to understand that an office environment is more controlled, secure and set up in a particular way that can’t be replicated at home, [but it should be].” Andy Craven
New opportunities for resellers
One in five (22%) are looking to invest in connectivity, rising to over a third (36%) amongst employers with over 500 staff.
The most significant opportunity that homeworking presents for new revenue streams is business-grade fibre connections to the home. From the statistics above, there’s clear demand for robust, reliable connectivity that can be properly managed remotely and support high-speed connections for better collaboration and communication.
“Good connectivity is very important [for hybrid working] – with the applications we run we just wouldn’t be as productive without fast, reliable connectivity. The opportunity is that bad connectivity is holding businesses back, therefore you’ve got to make sure that the connectivity is able to support the applications that the users need.” Louisa Clark
“It comes back to reliable connectivity, you get that right, the rest will follow” Alex Fitzgerald
“The key three things really are reliability, improved latency, and bandwidth future-proofing.” Kevin Burgess
Another area that resellers can genuinely add value and support their end-users better is in the cybersecurity arena. Obviously, the extended network edge that homeworking creates also increases the number of threat vectors and challenges for IT teams protecting their critical data.
“Making sure devices have secure passwords, two factor authentication ... due diligence into a data room sending those documents, it's about having the right passwords, the right identity and access management, a secure data room, information when it's uploaded is encrypted.” Pete Tomlinson
Other services that customers have been investing in include digital collaboration tools (39%), IT equipment (38%), data security (32%), remote working software (32%) and cloud computing/storage (26%).
This shows that there are many opportunities for resellers to develop new product areas or play to their strengths and focus on key services that provide high margins such as Managed Services. But, as the roundtable came to a close, the attendees were asked for their final pieces of advice, and while many prompted resellers to simply get involved or risk losing relevancy, it remains vital that partners think of the end benefit to their customers above all else.
“The increased pace of FTTP roll out is something we’re all working on. That’s a massive opportunity. It alleviates a lot of problems. Some of the older technologies in place at home don’t cut the mustard now. There is still a lot of people out there sat on basic ADSL technologies.” Phillip Lee
“Change creates opportunity to embrace it, or risk being left behind.” Paul Sinclair
“If you're not thinking about it, your competitors are. So really have to think through how it can work for you and your customers.” Paul Smith
Businesses are going to start acting in different ways as they explore strategies to overcome the long-term effects of Covid-19. From our roundtable, we’ve clearly heard how important it is to fold hybrid working solutions into your portfolio. And it's especially important to be nimble with your approach, adding value where you can, to enhance your proposition and ultimately, support your customers even further. Covid-19 has accelerated the need to full fibre for every business and home. Hybrid working is here to stay, and for that, we need fast, reliable connectivity.
At TalkTalk Wholesale Services we took the chance to move forward and embrace the future of connectivity now. Full Fibre is our number one priority. Our plan is to become the Full Fibre enabler for the channel, giving our Partners ubiquitous coverage by working with other AltNets.
Supporting our Partners through this transition from copper to fibre is our key focus and our sales support and marketing collateral is perfect for growing resellers looking to capitalise on the opportunities available.
Get in touch to discover how TalkTalk Wholesale Services can help maximise the potential of your operations and help provide better connectivity for your customers.