Zoho looks to mimic the office for remote workers with user check-in, live video feeds

Zoho looks to mimic the office for remote workers with user check-in, live video feeds

Cliq messaging app gets a raft of features designed to help employees and managers keep track of workers in a virtual office

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As remote work becomes the norm for many during the pandemic, workplace chat applications have helped teams stayed connected.

But not all aspects of the office environment can be duplicated in a digital workspace. With updates to its Cliq messaging tool, Zoho hopes to provide greater visibility into who is available at given time – in effect, seeing who’s “in” their remote office and who’s not.

Among the additions are a check-in feature that connects with Zoho’s HR system to track employee attendance, acting as a digital ID swipe card that remote workers use to clock in and clock out each day by pressing a button in Cliq.

Once logged in, workers can update their availability status to allow colleagues to see that they’re  available. Status in the chat app is then replicated across all of Zoho’s suite of business apps, which includes CRM and office productivity tools.

In addition, live video feeds with Cliq allow workers to check which colleagues are at their desk and available to chat; the feature could also be used by managers to keep tabs on who is at their computer.

Other changes include team work-hour reports that provide a summary of user availability and  then reports into the HR system.

The new features in Zoho Cliq are based on “real-life employee experience scenarios,” said David Mario Smith, founder and principal analyst at Inflow Analysis. “For example, the easy check-in feature is basically a virtual walk into your office building, where everyone knows you are now here and present.

“Then that goes together with the transparency features that allow you to update your work status and leverage live video feeds to see when coworkers are available to chat to minimise disrupting them. And of course the real-time collaboration features to meet virtually via video is critical for remote work."

Zoho also unveiled a new CRM tool aimed at small business. Zoho said that Bigin - priced at $7 per user each month - can be set up in 30 minutes, and includes built-in telephony and workflow automation features to cut time spent on manual tasks.

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