The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered dramatic changes in the society. BenQ Corporation, with business units throughout the world, has prudently responded to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus from the very beginning. In order to protect its employees, BenQ asked those in high risk areas to work from home and suspended all international business travels. Facing sudden changes in work styles and a slower business pace, Conway Lee, CEO of BenQ, believes this change is not only a challenge but also an opportunity. While working from home and less business travels save the cost on money and time, it also alleviates the increasing threat of the global warming, hinting at a prescription to the sustainable coexistence of enterprises and the environment.
However, how do we best maintain the competitiveness of enterprises during such changes? “The key is to allow employees in different countries or locations to communicate conveniently and efficiently. The ability of rapid detection, quick observation of the changes in the regional markets, and agile responses couldn’t be sacrificed because of physical distances,” Conway said.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, the office culture of concentrated labor is moving toward a pattern of telecommuting with decentralized teams. BenQ, headquartered in Taiwan, has long enabled telecommuting in its regional markets in diverse locations before the COVID-19, as part of an effort to enhance flexibility for recruiting talents. “For instance, an employee in Paris wants to settle in Marseille, the hometown of his spouse, after getting married; we gave him the flexibility to come to the office just twice a week. By doing so, employees can take care of their job and family at the same time,” Conway said.
As a result, talented employees all over the world have better engagement with the company, and help BenQ’s business better succeed in different cultures and markets. And yet, there are a lot of considerations when carrying out extensive work-from-home policy. The company needs to learn how to inspire creativity, maintain its corporate culture, and foster a sense of belonging to unite all employees to move toward the common goals when everyone meets each other less frequently. In Conway’s opinion, before implementing work from home to a larger extent, organizations need to find out the best solution to remotely communicate, collaborate, and manage a decentralized team across large distances with high efficiency to ensure agility in response to crisis and changes.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, BenQ executives regularly had conference calls with employees in diverse branches, and arranged business trips to communicate face to face with local sales and marketing teams on a quarterly basis. Now for the sake of safety, cross-border trips have been completely canceled. However, from another perspective, flight suspensions and lockdowns in some regions help significantly reduce carbon emissions around the globe to the historic low level unseen since World War II. Rather than resisting the change, businesses ought to embrace the positive effects derived from the change and think how enterprises and the environment can co-exist with greater sustainability, Conway said.
Everything in the post COVID-19 era, including business competition, demands, technology and policies, is experiencing rapid change. Therefore, how to respond quickly to market demands and adjust “organizational agility” has become more important than ever. When reducing business trips and face-to-face communications, how would international corporations operate nimbly and control the conditions of various branches in different countries instantly? Conway believes that both the frequency and efficiency of video conferences need to be increased greatly. “A conversation that takes half an hour to clarify face to face may need two or three times more to handle via phone calls or emails.” Therefore, ensuring remote communication and collaboration without obstacles is the key for corporate teams to ensure operational efficiency.
In the future, as technology advances, virtual meeting will increasingly incorporate VR and AR to simulate face-to-face communications between people in diverse spaces, and visualize ideas and concepts that can’t be easily verbalized. In current workplaces, most companies only equip video conferencing systems in very few large meeting rooms. The numbers of employees who are familiar with video conferencing systems is relatively low. In order to face the new normal in the future and maintain work efficiency and productivity, it is necessary to be well-equipped and enhance staff training with digital capability. To Conway’s knowledge, once video conference calls replace the communications conducted by long-distance business trips, corporate efficiency will be elevated dramatically. However, the success of such a transformation, as McKinsey & Company have remarked, will depend on the five Rs — Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.
Using digital technology is no longer a luxury but a necessary “fighting” power for business success and survival. To foster such power, employees should be able to use advanced equipment anytime and anywhere. From its own experience with remote conferences to manage global markets, BenQ learns that users need video conference calls to furnish business transformation and customer service in a changing environment. Therefore, BenQ provides tools for remote communication and productive collaboration in variously-sized conference rooms, with integrated cameras, microphones, built-in con-call software and interactive cloud whiteboards plus an online shared board. Conway explains, “When visualizing complicated concepts, cloud whiteboards work especially well. A communication tool capable of interacting and writing will shorten the distance between people even if they’re on the opposite sides of the world to accomplish mutual understanding.”
Businesses must take the current global economic situation into account and allocate their budgets more prudently. As the global No. 1 DLP projector brand, BenQ offers video conference solutions with greater flexibility, and introduces the portable, wireless Smart Projectors Series with integrated system and video conferencing software. The all-in-one display and video conference solution allows workers to quickly start a video conference with team members whether in any small meeting room or open space, without occupying their personal computers.
The moment when a crisis arrives is also a time to thrive. BenQ has readjusted its organizational thinking and operating model to meet the continuously changing environment. In the spirit of “Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to Life”, BenQ continues to study customer needs and offers corresponding smart technology and services. By empowering its employees, partners, and customers with problem solving solutions, BenQ and its associates can remain competitive and prosper in the new normal.