I’m starting week seven of the stay-at-home lockdown here in Spain only now having enough head space to put my 2 cents together on the page regarding WFH (working from home) and what these coronavirus times mean for the streaming business.
I was so busy the first four weeks of this lockdown – I think in part because it was A) all-hands-on-deck for the online video world, while also B) the majority of our clients and contacts were going through the learning curve of how to WFH efficiently – and, perhaps they indulged a bit in the number of Zoom meetings, too! I’m fan #1 of Zoom for its reliability (as you can see in my earlier blog entry here: The Expanding World of Online Communication, but I do believe that some of it was overdone. I highly recommend having video calls but it is equally important to defend quiet desk time.
From my perspective, the speed of adjustment to WFH and general coronavirus awareness has been remarkable. About one month ago, I had to make a series of four phone calls during the course of a week to my mother in the U.S. to land with her the idea that daily visits to the grandkids and farmer’s markets would best be suspended. At first she was kindly and patient with me (I imagine she thought her son was a bit hysterical) but now some four weeks later I see her strolling along with a face mask much better than I.
During those early days I received calls and emails from old college buddies, industry friends, cousins, aunts and uncles when Spain sprung to the headlines for the coronavirus pandemic. Things have quickly changed, and it seems that the Western World is now weathering the same Covid-19 storm together (and hopefully we are all coming out of this first wave soon). Weekly Zoom meetings with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews are now a weekly staple – what a great silver lining!
Happily, it seems that the daily peak of coronavirus infections and Zoom meetings on a per capita basis have peaked. The last two weeks (weeks 5 and 6) were much more manageable. I actually (finally) had some quiet time to think and write out this little ditty, for example… If you prefer to scan blogs (rather than read word-for-word), the rest of this one’s for you, with a run-down on the latest in the Streaming world, my CliffsNotes on how to best WFH, and some bits about how our team is making out while this Corona storm passes.
Wishing you all the very best for Week Seven!
In the Video Streaming World
Enterprise Meetings 〰️IN FLUX〰️
Large corporates with a big head-count at headquarters and many satellite, regional and country offices have found their “ECDN” technology to be less than adequate especially now that their workforce is WFH (rather than all tapping into the video from office LANs). Our client Peer5 is perfectly placed for this new dynamic because their system is more affordable, easier to deploy (no client software downloading or hardware deployments required), and perhaps most importantly: their solution resolves the problem for both LAN saturation and WFH re-buffering resolutions. Peer5 is receiving a lot of demand and about to on-board quite a few new Forbes 2,000 customers to add to their burgeoning portfolio that already boasts SAP, PwC, and Deutsche Telekom as customers.
Small Group Meetings ✅
Either you live under a rock or you already know that Zoom meetings are on the rise and that they are quite practical for smaller group interactive video meetings. Video meeting platforms that compete with Zoom are increasingly engaging with Ceeblue for back-end transcoding and cloud deployments so they can achieve ultra-low latency video delivery while harnessing all the newer protocols.
European football clubs and players are suffering big-time and so are the broadcasters and OTT platforms that have purchased the streaming rights for these sports leagues. A lot of advertisement revenue has been wiped off the table by the Coronavirus. There are almost no live sporting events to stream presently. Soccer freaks have been streaming the Belarusian league as a matter of last resort. I personally wish I had some baseball to watch! Afterall, now more than ever some sports entertainment would be so much appreciated. Fingers crossed for teams to resume playing in closed-door stadiums. It would be a wonderful thing for all the sports streaming industry and has the potential of turning a big “⬇︎” into a huge “⬆︎“.
As people find they cannot attend their religious prayers and ceremonies in person, they have found new ways to practice their faith by streaming it to their homes.
Broadcasters that stream their news have seen remarkable up-ticks in viewership and in the CDN bills that come in at the end of the month. We certainly are living in newsworthy times!
VOD / OTT ✅
Our client Vualto has seen significant increased demand for DRM (digital rights management) by its customers. Popular viewing platforms have seen as much as thirty to sixty percent increases in the course of only thirty days.
WFH (Working From Home aka Working Remote): Tips from an Old-Timer
I started WFH back in 2008 while doing Remote work for a cloud services provider based in the Netherlands. There were times I wondered if it was doable. Nowadays, things are easier because it is more accepted as a practice and because many members of a team might be doing it in unison (rather than my case where I was this random Remote worker guy). However, there is a learning curve and it isn’t meant for everyone. Here are my tips on how best to do it for increased productivity + increased happiness:
- Limit your News Intake – Especially during unusual times like these it is most prudent to limit your news intake. It isn’t easy if you are a news junky, but it is important if you want to be able to focus on your work. You can never know all the news at a time like now because it is in such a state of flux and you might find it upsetting, too. I learned this when I lived in NYC during 9-11.
- Have a Daily Goals / To-Do List – When you first sit-down at your desk in the morning (I do it while having a coffee at the breakfast table with pen and paper), jot down a short list of what you really need to get done before you turn off the lights later that night. This will bring you back from your rabbit-hole slack and e-mail adventures during the day and it is also crucial for the Time Boundaries point below.
- Headset – Good Headsets are key! I use mine to listen to music (essential for happy working in my case), drowning out other noises in the house that might distract, and for optimal sound on video and phone calls. My headset is simultaneously connected to my HP laptop and iphone throughout the working day. The hardware I am currently using is a Bose “QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II”. My wife makes fun of me and says I should wear aviator glasses to complete the picture but the younger and more tech-savvy crowd will support me on my choice. Bonus Tip: If you need to do some “quiet thinking” work, you will find your mind is able to better focus if you turn your phone to airplane mode and with Slack, Skype, etc. turned off on your computer: your mind settles by knowing that the potential of interruption has been seriously diminished.
- Time Boundaries – It’s optimal to start and finish the working day at a consistent time. I also try to be consistent with my lunchtime and exercise, but they do get juggled around a bit depending on the tetris game of management and sales calls scheduling. I highly recommend leaving your desk at a pre-set turn-off time ESPECIALLY if you have been able to check-off all the items you scribbled on your day’s To-Do list. Sometimes it is hard if you are a night owl-type who can find themself in a “groove”. Without a doubt, however, if you follow that groove into the late hours your productivity will be down the following day, so it’s best not stay at your desk too late should you have a busy schedule the following day. Burn-out is real for industrious folks that are working from home.
- Exercise – When you are WFH you don’t have any commuting expenses or time loss! Roll out of bed and flip on your computer (sort of), right? This represents a huge time savings, however we tend to forget that this is also time lost in moving the body. Exercise is hugely important to keep your weight in check and for mental health. No bad day at the office can beat me when I’ve listened to my music and done my exercise. These days I’m getting my 10,000 steps going up and down the stairs.
- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – I’ve learned the power of team camaraderie via Video from the Vualto team that I have the pleasure of being a part of. Since the Vualto team has been WFH, they have created a Slack channel for “Random” topics which almost always translates to being silly and relaxed together; homework is sometimes dished out for things such as sharing pictures of our lunches, our pets and last Friday there was a a virtual pub quiz, which was fantastic. These activities address another big WFH pitfall that many newbies suffer from – a sense of loneliness and neglect that comes from diminished interaction with teams and managers. Welcome the silly and promote conversations that have nothing to do with work – this is my new motto.
- Know that WFH ought to increase your productivity – If you think WFH is too good to be true and wonder if your clients, teams and managers will let you continue to do so in the post-Coronavirus days, let me help you by saying that you are not crazy to think you are more productive working from home than from the office. Check out the series of books, Rework, Remote, and It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work written by Jason Fried and David Heinmeier Hansson, the founders of BaseCamp. I relied on them for sanity checks when I was still that random Remote guy. My summary conclusion on WFH is that team members should be encouraged to adopt it with a proper dose of in-office meetings to compliment. The WFH / in-office optimal time allotment balance will depend on the worker’s personality, tasks at hand, geography, etc.
- The toughest parts are getting started in the morning and leaving your work behind at a fixed time later in the day – the rest falls into place with practice.
Our Team During These Times
Josh, Alberto and I are all based in Spain, so we have been under more strict lock-down rules than folks based in other countries. Josh has younger children and is juggling with his wife to provide in-house daycare while Alberto and I are “all systems go” (Alberto is soon to be married with no children as of yet and my kids are at the university age). I see a huge increase in productivity with our team overall. We have been able to focus and to punch-through many lingering tasks like never before. That said, I am really looking forward to the next time we get to hang-out together in the same physical space.
One thing that I would like to change in the future is having our weekly meetings remain online so that we can use our time together more for creative thought rather than “ticking boxes”.
Part of my personal increase in productivity comes from not traveling so much. Industry conventions since February – starting with the mighty Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – have been shut down one after another. May and June shows have already confirmed they won’t be happening as planned. I wonder if the all-important IBC held in Amsterdam in September will happen.
Pipelines are pretty full but as the after-effects of conventions wane, I ought to re-acquaint myself with the telephone (more about that in my next blog entry) and I would also like to finally figure-out how to be smart on LinkedIn (one of those still lingering tasks).
Ok, that’s the latest and greatest from yours truly here at Xross Connect. I’m turning off the computer now to join my neighbors for our daily 8:00 pm routine of clapping in thanks to health workers and showing our solidarity. Wherever you are while reading this entry, I hope you are in a safe, happy and productive place.