29 January 2015
Adopt unified communications that will enable your team to be more productive and boost morale.
Flexible working is nothing new. However, employers face increasing pressure to provide tools and means that allow employees to work productively when away from the office.
› Recent changes to employment legislation allow all employees to request flexible working provisions without having to provide any reason for the request. Employers must give each request proper consideration or face a potential employment tribunal.
› Business leaders are adopting strategies that allow staff to manage their own workloads and schedules – even going as far as allowing unlimited holiday leave.
In many industries the idea of the 9 to 5, five day working week is no longer a reality. Instead employees and employers need to work together to design and enable flexible working practices that are mutually beneficial.
Employers are right to be concerned about how these changes will affect their business operations and may have unfounded concerns about the impact on staff productivity. How can an employee working from their kitchen table at home be as productive as they would be in the office?
The answer is to extend company line-of-business applications beyond the company firewall, using technology to replicate the in-office experience anywhere. More than simply building VPN and remote access solutions, employees will also need to stay connected to the company phone system if they are to be truly productive.
Extending phone systems in this way:
› Allows remote employees to be contacted on their internal extension on other devices even when they are out of the office
› Allows employees to remain part of internal hunt groups, keeping them “in the loop”
› Customer queries can be dealt with immediately – no more “so-and-so will call you back” excuses
› Remote employees have access to the corporate directory, company voicemail and other telecoms resources at all times
› Allows the use of smartphone apps to keep employees connected wherever they are, routing calls to their desktop phone and mobile handset simultaneously
› Helps better manage telecoms costs by ensuring all work related calls are routed through the corporate call plan rather than disparate mobile phone contracts
Modern unified communications tools can help your employees maintain a consistent presence regardless of time or location.
Unified communications systems also have the added advantage of simplified management. Depending on deployment, IT/Telecoms managers can benefit from:
· Cloud-based PBX which reduces ongoing hardware management and maintenance
· Deployment of new extensions which can be as simple as plugging in an additional VoIP handset
· Mobile apps can also be used to apply urgent changes to unified communications configurations when out of the office
· IVR (interactive voice response) which can be used to simplify the routing of incoming customer calls or play recorded messages to help callers resolve common comms issues themselves
Perversely, many businesses may find that a lack of flexible working provisions comes back to bite them in the next few months. A run of bad winters over previous years are estimated to have cost the UK economy £11 billion annually due to lost productivity.
“43% of staff have been stranded at home due to ice and snow causing transport problems.” – eSure Insurance research.
With the possibility of almost half of all employees unable to make it to work, unified communications provisions are about much more than “just” flexible working for a select few employees.
Flexible working rights mean employers must take remote working seriously. Here are the factors you need to consider:
› How can technology improve your existing operations?
› How can unified communications improve presence for employees working remotely?
› What are the additional benefits of unified communications for IT service delivery?
› Are there added benefits – such as “snow days” – to consider?
29 January 2015 | Cem Ahmet
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.