World Telecommunication Day: ‘Remote working will be a major part of our work culture going forward’

Khushi Qazi
Sunday, 17 May 2020

Communication platform helping schools, youths, small businesses and NGOs grow amid the coronavirus lockdown. Sakal Times speaks to Vinay Bhartia, India Head at Lark.  

Pune: Remote working has been the need of the hour for organisations and individuals across the world amid the ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although remote collaboration is not a new phenomenon globally, especially in developed markets in Europe, Americas and even South East Asia, the requirement of team working platforms and tools to facilitate the same has seen a rapid rise across the world in these last few months. 

Keeping up with the trend, remote working will be a part of our culture and working style going forward even post the COVID-19 era, said Vinay Bhartia, India Head at Lark, which is one such platform that facilitates remote working.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Bhartia said, “The workplace and work culture is changing and is impacting the workforce. It is going to bring about a transformation where even after the lockdown we might prefer to do many interactions over a call or video-conferencing which we previously did in person. There is going to be a major transformation in how businesses and companies use digital platforms to conduct businesses.”

“We are in the midst of a big cultural shift in the way businesses are conducted, from going to our own offices to now being in our homes and dining tables, living rooms,” he added. 

Recognised by UNESCO, Lark is a one-stop-shop for all needs, featuring next-generation collaboration tools that enable teams to work together. The platform builds a culture of effective communication by combining a multitude of essential tools in a single platform, including chat, video-conferencing of up to 100 people, live streaming, calendar, documents and sheets and cloud storage. All these functionalities are deeply integrated into a single application.

New era of working
Speaking about the role of Lark in this new era of working, Bhartia said, “Lark would like to lead and offer on the education side in terms of teaching people and showing best practices and also help them on how they can adapt to this new norm of working. Expanding our offerings, Lark will now be servicing retail, manufacturing, entertainment, media, creative agencies, other services and industries as well.”

Since setting up shop in India in August last year, Lark has been catering to customers across segments like start-ups, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), big markets, large enterprises, education, social, internet and technology.

Working in education and social sectors
According to Bhartia, the three most important capabilities that Lark can boast of are communication, collaboration and business continuity. “Situations like the current one test an organisation’s ability to address challenges such as getting teams to manage workflows remotely or handle project management, etc. So Lark bridges the gap as a robust, easy to use tool which brings the entire organisation together and stay connected,” he said. 

“Usually organisations use six or eight such applications to address individual problems. But at Lark, we offer all those on one platform and that I believe sets us apart,” added Bhartia.

Apart from businesses, another major sector that Lark caters to is the education sector, working with schools, colleges, and other educational institutes to make the process of teaching and learning easier. “At Lark, we have successfully empowered more than 25 educational institutes like schools, colleges, or coaching classes with our technology. We’ve made our service free for them. With the wide spectrum of our feature capability, we are also able to offer different requirements to different institutes,” Bhartia said. 

He also cited an example of customisation offered to a particular educational institution, highlighting Lark’s flexibility in its offerings. “There is also the ‘open platform capability’ which we used for a couple of institutes who wanted to use the whiteboard while conducting video conferencing. Our tech partners created an application in our open platform - a whiteboard - and then empowered the institute to use the whiteboard to teach students,” he said. 

Helpings NGOs
While Lark has established itself in the business and education sectors, Bhartia admitted that the aim is now to do the same in the social sector with NGOs and not-for-profit companies and help smoothly conduct their activities. 

“Some of the players in this sector are using our platform to stay connected to not just their core team but also their volunteer network. Imagine a social organisation having a core team of 200 members but a volunteer network of 25,000. How do you bring them on one platform and communicate with all of them with the same meaning? That’s where Lark helps, and we can empower such key sectors to continue their great work,” Bhartia expressed.

Data privacy and the road advancing
Managing your work and other activities on such remote-working platforms that involve thousands of users always comes with the insecurity as a user of the privacy of your data. 

Platforms, similar to Lark, such as Zoom, have had numerous concerns raised with regards to the security and privacy of user data. When asked how Lark assures its users that their data is safe and inaccessible to outsiders, Bhartia said, “Lark protects client data with strong infrastructure capability, things like security, 24/7 service, emergency response. On the data protection front, we’ve passed most of the critical security standards in the world. We follow security compliances. We are going beyond what is required to ensure customers’ data security concerns are addressed.” 

“On the business side, only authorised teams are invited, added, or can delete or add users and that’s your entire organisation. You do not have outsiders who can see your conversations. The admin capability lets you ensure that only your team is using the platform. The thing important is that users in your Lark environment only belong to your organisation and controlled by your company’s admin or HR. So, data security, privacy, user management is very well controlled by the organisation itself,” he added.

Helping youths train in India
Speaking about the road ahead, Bhartia gave the examples of two recent projects that Lark had undertaken and said that they aim to carry on participating in more such initiatives, along with serving businesses, educational institutes and social organisations.

“We recently helped one of India’s largest rural youth training organisations succeed in providing on-the-job training to thousands of young Indians across the rural population, by using Lark’s scalability features. Along with that, there is an EdTech start-up which is in a mission to create readers among children, and we were able to empower them through Lark’s internal tools and help manage their operations,” said Bhartia said. 

“These projects were very satisfying and rewarding. If Lark can help such organisations create an impact in their field of work, I would say we can sit back and say we have done a good job. If customers can make an impact by using our tools, nothing is more satisfying,” he concluded.

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