- Box CEO Aaron Levie thinks the coronavirus crisis will lead to massive technology changes in the business world that will last even after it’s over.
- The coronavirus accelerated business trends that were already underway for companies, like moving to the cloud and modernizing their IT departments, but will also make them think about how their employees can work more efficiently.
- As the surge in remote work brings about new security challenges — as people work from their own unsecured WiFi networks and personal devices — Box announced its own updates to provide customers with heightened security.
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Box CEO Aaron Levie believes that the coronavirus crisis will lead to massive changes in how companies use technology and is already imagining how his own workforce will be forever changed.
“The amount of business transformation we’re going to see from a technology standpoint in literally the next few months is going to be completely unparalleled to any other time in history,” Levie told Business Insider. “We’re gonna move from it being about ‘work from home’ to it being about completely new ways of doing work.”
The coronavirus has accelerated several business trends that companies were already adopting, like moving to the cloud, modernizing their IT departments, and going digital, Levie said, and cloud software companies like Box, Slack, and Zoom, which help employees stay connected and collaborate, have already seen a swell in usage.
But Levie believes that the abrupt changes that the coronavirus brought on will last long after shelter-in-places orders lift as companies — including Box — rethink how employees do their jobs productively and securely.
What Levie’s learned about changing work practices
Businesses around the world have been forced to change the way they get things done as they’ve transitioned their employees to remote workers.
Moving work online can make people more efficient, Levie said. For example, in the past few weeks he’s held investor meetings over video conference instead of in person, with the same — if not better — results. Meetings were more efficient, he said, and he could fit more into one day, since he wasn’t wasting time on travel.
He thinks the same principles could apply to other kinds of meetings as well, like customer check-ins or internal team meetings.
“Post COVID, why would anyone go back to the less efficient way of doing those interactions?” Levie posited.
Instead of thinking in terms of who’s in an office, he’s also been broadening the scope of who he chats with and when.
“On an average day, I’m probably talking to five times the number of people from different time zones than I was when I worked at the office,” After all, anyone he wants to communicate with is only a “chat bubble and video call away.”
While he isn’t committing to permanent remote work for Box just yet, he said that this experience will change how the company thinks about best practices even after the coronavirus crisis ends.
Moving meetings online and away from the constraints of conference room logistics will open them up to more people and may make them shorter, he said. Some meetings will probably moved entirely to chat conversations.
Other things — like where employees work and their hours — could also become more flexible, he said, though he’s not ready to discuss concrete changes at this point.
How Box is handling the increase in security challenges
An all remote workforce exacerbates any security problems a company’s IT department might have already been facing, while also potentially creating new ones as people work from their own WiFi networks and personal devices, instead of secure, company ones.
“When all of a sudden you have this increase in people working remotely and they’re working from all these un-managed devices in the enterprise, you all of a sudden need a completely different security model for protecting that data,” Levie said.
Box is addressing those problems by adding new features to Box Shield, its security tool that detects security threats and helps prevent data breaches. On Wednesday it announced new features that notify users about potential malware and restricts them from downloading or sharing compromised files.
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SEE ALSO: Zoom’s chief people officer says that the company is hiring beyond its original goals to support its huge usage boom, but that the challenge is growing sustainably as recession looms
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