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Working from home… permanently?

Karim Hussami

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Working from home… permanently?

Working from home measures, have been carried out by companies all over the world due to the spread of coronavirus, but what was once considered a temporary work arrangement may prove to be something more permanent.

The virus has forced companies to change their workplace policies, leaving many people across sectors to adapt to the sudden shift in working life, all while trying to cope with the other significant changes occurring in other parts of everyday life.

Companies began modifying workplace policies primarily to protect workers and employees from the covid-19 spread, and to maintain continuity in business flow and productivity.

As such, many tech companies like Twitter and Google were faced with unprecedented challenges. Google extended its work-from-home policy, last week, until the end of 2020, after telling their employees they would be working remotely until June, wrote in a memo on May 8.

Based on the shift, working-from-home is gradually becoming the new normal for this year and maybe into the next, for Google staff. In order to help their workers with this new experience, the big tech company began advising to work from home since March.

Google will begin a phased reopening in June with 10-15 % of staffers allowed to be in one location.

Other big tech companies took the same step as Google, like Twitter, but with a slight difference. After telling staff they would work remotely – awaiting the end of the pandemic crisis – Twitter has changed its policy by declaring this week, that staff can manage their work from home “forever” if they wish. Being able to return to offices is also an option for those who wish to do so, when daily life reopens.

The reason for Twitter’s decision is that work-from-home measures during lockdown proved successful. It published a statement saying, “The past few months have proven we can make that work. So, if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”

Adding, “Those who are keen to return to our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions.”

One of the major social media giants that followed this new shift in providing flexibility to policies related to working from home is Facebook. “We’ve also let our employees know that even after more of our teams can return, if there is any reason they feel they cannot work in our offices – because they are in a vulnerable population, because with schools and camps canceled, they don’t have child care, or anything else – they can plan to work from home through at least the summer.” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post last month.

The shift in work-life will have a significant impact on the masses around the world, as it is considered by many as a turning point in our history, which will undoubtedly, define our future prospects and the way we conduct business

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Journalist for 7 years in print media, with a bachelor degree in Political Science and International Affairs. Masters in Media communications.

Feature Articles

Global advertising revenue insights 2020 – Online advertising, the preferred platform

Inside Telecom Staff

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Global advertising revenue insights 2020 - Online advertising, the preferred platform

Global advertising revenue is expected to fall by at least 7.4% in 2020 as the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic are pushing advertisers to slash their budgets. This is resulting in reduced income for media owners.

The 7.4% represents a best-case scenario, assuming that the market is going to improve in the second half of the year. Research and analytics company Omdia, previously predicted the market would increase by 2% in 2020, before the obvious impact of COVID-19.

The coronavirus crisis is having knock-on impacts throughout the worldwide economy, spurring negative GDP growth, increased unemployment rates, low retail spending and reducing consumer expenditures,” said Kia Ling Teoh, senior analyst, media and advertising. “The advertising segment isn’t immune to this phenomenon, with the market facing a sharp decline in revenue for the year.”

Global TV advertising revenue will fall by 12% this year.

Taking the 2008 financial crisis as a precedent, Omdia believes the pandemic will have an even greater impact on TV advertising in 2020,” said Aled Evans, senior analyst, media for Omdia. “This is occurring for two reasons: the postponement of major sporting events, and the rise of internet advertising as the preferred platform for advertisers, as shoppers buy their goods online due to lockdowns in all major countries.”

Internet advertising will flatline this year, with a slight decline of 0.1%. Despite the resilient online traffic growth that is caused by people spending more of their time online, Omdia is expecting advertisers to reduce their overall discretionary advertising spend because of global economic issues.

The outdoor and cinema advertising sector is expected to be most heavily impacted by COVID-19 as a result of reduced foot traffic and advertisers moving their budget to online platforms. Globally, outdoor advertising is predicted to fall by 21.2% in 2020, while cinema will decline by 19.1%.

In the radio advertising category, Omdia is forecasting a drop in revenue of 11% this year as radio broadcasters compete for a decreased total advertising spend.

Omdia has forecast a drop of 16.8% for global print media ad revenues in 2020. Whilst other categories are expected to return to growth in 2021 or 2022, Omdia predicts print media to only return to a lower negative growth rate in 2021.

Updated forecasts point towards the market share of internet advertising revenues increasing from 48 % in 2019 to 51% in 2020, eating into shares of other media including outdoor, cinema, radio and print. Television’s market share will drop slightly from 31% to 30%.

The worst-case scenario forecasts a prolonged lockdown which results in a massive economic slump, global advertising revenue will decline by 17% in 2020, and will only return to modest growth in 2023 or later.

During the period from 2021 through 2024, advertising revenue growth rates will remain rather conservative.

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Law in France forces social media platforms to remove online hate speech

Inside Telecom Staff

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Law in France forces social media platforms to remove online hate speech

The most recent law passed in France has continued to fuel the controversial debate of ‘free speech or censorship?’

The law has put more pressure on tech platforms to remove hateful comments considered “manifestly illicit” – which might be based on religion, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation and sexual harassment – within 24 hours after they are flagged by users. Content that engages in terrorism or child pornography must be removed within one hour of being flagged.

The National Assembly – who passed the new legislation – has given platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat strict deadlines to remove content. If the companies fail to cooperate, they can face fines of up to 4% of their global revenue.

The law aims to “induce responsibility” from the creators of online platforms who argue “that the tool they themselves have created is uncontrollable,” Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The law also sets up a prosecutor specialized in digital content and a government unit to continually observe online hate speech. “People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” Belloubet said.

The matter of social media censorship is a very controversial one. Whilst indeed, harmful content and one that encourages criminal activity or discrimination should be removed to protect users, it calls into question speech in other contexts when discussion comprises of a personal opinion that may or may not offend others but will be removed because it does not conform to one set of guidelines. Some might argue that personal opinion represents our civil liberties and when censored – impinges upon individual freedom of expression and curbs the right to access free flowing information.

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UK broadband speeds revealed in latest research

Inside Telecom Staff

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UK broadband speeds revealed in latest research

The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has published its latest (extended) annual research, the Communications Market Report 2019. The report shows that the average broadband speed across the country rose by 18% in the last year. It grew from 52.2 Mbps to 64 Mbps. 

The report is formed on data gathered and collated in November of last year but has now been adjusted to reflect of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and the surge in home working and video streaming that since resulted. Between the beginning of this March and the end of the month (the lockdown officially began on March 23 but many people were self-isolating from March 16) residential broadband speeds fell by 2%. 

The pandemic notwithstanding, the 18% average broadband speed increase is in line with government targets and telco/ISP promises. Ofcom states that the small dip in speed first recorded in March virtually had no effect on the availability and resilience of broadband connectivity which held up well and still continues to.

Virgin Media suffered the greatest slowdown of the main providers. Speeds fell by 9.9% as the lockdown took hold and demand rose. Ofcom does point out that, having an all-fibre network, Virgin routinely provides substantially higher speeds than other ISPs and thus, most subscribers would have been unlikely to perceive any service degradation. What they do notice though is Virgin Media’s continual and all too frequent inflation-busting price rises.

Ofcom claims to have a very accurate methodology in place to calculate data rates whereby a big and widely geographically-dispersed group of volunteers agree to have their broadband speeds monitored directly from their routers. It has found that 73% of British homes have what the regulator is pleased to call “superfast broadband”, which equates to a minimum speed of 30Mbps.

And that figure is, of course, just the infamous ‘up to’ rate so beloved by the ISPs because it is such an easy get out when independent tests indicate that the real speeds achieved are woefully below the ‘up to’ a 60 mbps rate or whatever other unfeasibly fast figure the marketing department has conjured up. That part of the market is still far too redolent of the boastful and thoroughly unreliable Toad of Toad Hall.

As the Ofcom report shows, the real-life, real-world speeds actually achieved are lower than the ‘up to’ speeds so obviously displayed in ISP adverts. Ofcom reveals that 69% of residential subscribers get speeds in excess of 30 Mbps – and that figure includes the 17% of homes that get 100mbps or above and the mere three per cent that get 300 mbps.

Down at the bottom of the league, 13% of UK houses still struggle on with 10 Mbps of even less while 18% have service speeds of somewhere between 10 Mbps and 30 Mbps. What’s more, the statistics refer to the ratio of households actually achieving those speeds rather than the breadth of their availability.

The simple fact of the matter is that broadband speeds and ISP service bundles available to households vary greatly according to where the domestic premises are situated, be that a fibre-optic cabled city centre apartment, a cottage in a village or a moorland farm. 

Britain is still a long way away from being a broadband paradise for all, but things are improving, albeit at a generally sluggish rate. Some 80% of UK homes now have broadband connectivity. However, while full-fibre availability is up by 20% since 2018, a mere 12% of UK households can actually access it. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible, especially as, in a post-pandemic world, working from home might well be the norm for a much greater proportion of the population than it was back in PCV (pre-COVID) days.

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