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Lockdown Q&A: Andrew Bowater, Huawei

Peter Griffin, contributor. 09 April 2020, 8:43 am

Here at ITP Tech Blog we are asking people in the tech sector about how they are approaching business during the lockdown and the technology they are using to stay productive while working remotely.

Today we talk to Andrew Bowater, Deputy CEO at Huawei Technologies New Zealand.

What is your organisation?

Huawei New Zealand.

How many people does your organisation employ?

"We employ more than 190,000 people globally and approximately 120 people in New Zealand.

In one sentence please explain what your business/organisation does?

"Huawei is a global ICT company, providing telecommunications network equipment, consumer electronics and enterprise technology solutions in more than 170 countries."

Is remote working new to your organisation or are your old hands?

"Given we operate around the globe and we're a world-leading technology company, this is something we pride ourselves on and it would be a bit embarrassing if we didn't already have remote working tools in place!

"For as long as I've been at Huawei, we've collaborated and connected across the globe using a suite of tools. But I would add that the New Zealand team has tended to be together in the office. So as much as it's been pretty much seamless, we have had to adjust our working style during alert level four."

What apps/tech are you using to enable remote working?

"Our team have all the usual apps and tech you'd expect from a technology provide - good laptops, remote server access, video conferencing and messenger services. Difference departments also have different workflow management systems, so that we know that we've got everything covered for our clients.

"Part of our team is classed as an essential service and need to be ready to be out in the field helping keep our partners' telecommunication networks running. So alongside remote working protocols, we're also using our technology to ensure the safety of this team. We've separated our field team into two, so that if we have any health concerns, we only need to quarantine half of the team and managing their workflow via our own internal systems.

"For both our field teams and the team working remotely, Huawei has created a daily health check app. We now use it around the globe to find out each day if our team members are healthy. Then if they aren't, we're geared up to support them quickly and figure out if we need to isolate any other members of team as a result."

How do you communicate with each other? 

"Huawei has developed WeLink for our video conferencing and internal messaging. It integrates with all our internal systems as well as Zoom. But one of the best aspects of WeLink is the inbuilt translation function, so our teams around the world can communicate in their native languages in real-time with each other."

"On top of this, we also use WeChat, WhatsApp and social media to keep in touch."

How do you communicate with your customers?

"Basically, we communicate however works best for our clients. So, we're attending meetings via WeLink, Teams, Zoom and Skype, and using WeChat and WhatsApp for short conversations. But we do also rely on emails and normal telephone calls from time to time."

What is the best thing about working remotely? 

"There is actually quite a lot to like about remote working, including daily walks at an appropriate distance from people, nice home-made lunches and no daily debates about aircon or music levels.

"But in all seriousness, I do think you have the potential to be more focused and therefore more productive when working from home."

What is the worst thing about working remotely?

"As much as we're in constant contact and we are still social, you do miss out on those small conversations and little laughs that build a team culture."

What is the one piece of app/tech you recommend?

"An ergonomic desk set up. It's worth taking the time to get your screens and chair at the right height, so you aren't hunched over for the whole lockdown.

"I can also recommend the hours of fun that can be had getting to see your Roomba in action - especially with suitable costumes/decorations/shark fins etc."

Do you have any tips to get through the lockdown?

"I'd say to remind yourself that it's not going to be forever. My team and I have the benefit of seeing our colleagues in China go through and come out of lockdown.

"Our HQ is now back up and running in their version of the new normal. So as much as it's tough for Kiwis right now, it's worth remembering that we will also have a new normal in the months to come."


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