For a few years now, the general trend has slowly been towards more remote and homeworking. The need for a large central office is increasingly unnecessary; rent is a big, semi-avoidable cost, and many top candidates no longer want to tackle daily commutes or relocation. Millennials famously favour employers that offer at least some degree of remote working.
As you move towards a distributed workforce, you need to have the right technologies in place. Adopting Unified Communications (UC) is one important step towards boosting remote productivity – particularly because it places many of your key applications in one simple-to-use interface.
Building teamwork remotely
It is very rare for people to work in complete isolation; instead, we work together as a team to be more effective. But teamwork requires a team mentality; trust between employees that encourages them to work together.
This team mentality builds as people get to know each other. This is notoriously hard to foster when employees are not in close contact. So, you must prioritise communications and collaboration as you plan your remote working strategy – without the ability to talk quickly and easily, using video as well as voice or instant messaging, your team will never build the culture you need to succeed.
Thinking beyond the desk
To operate effectively in the office, your employees need access to shared systems like email, calendars, document stores and the phone system. They will need the same levels of access when working from home too.
However, as you deploy remote access bear in mind that most employees will not have the same set-up at home. They will not have a dedicated phone on their desk, and some may not even have a PC. Your Unified Communications platform should be able to accommodate these differences, making shared resources available to users on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. And more than simply providing access, the system must also allow employees to collaborate in real time including working on the same documents simultaneously.
By uncoupling “work” from the desk, you free employees to be productive any time, any place. Just because they’ve had to leave their home office to pick the kids up from school doesn’t mean that they are out of contact. Even if they can’t take a call, they can still receive and respond to instant messages on their smartphone for instance.
Bringing it all together
There are various tools that can replicate much of this functionality already, but they have one major failing – disconnect. By bringing calls, messaging, collaboration and other core systems into a single app your team has everything they need in one place. And because the Unified Communications platform is used in the same way at the office or at home, your employees immediately benefit from a consistent experience.
Unified Communications tools ensure there is no ‘learning curve’ and associated loss of productivity when they start working remotely. Your helpdesk will appreciate fewer basic “how do I…?” type calls – and the fact they must only configure and support a single platform rather than a collection of unrelated tools. This will in turn help to reduce total cost of ownership, at the same time as improving productivity for remote and on-premise employees.
The gains from Unified Communications are not theoretical either. The platform automatically records an audit trail of activity so you can see exactly how it is being used. As well as providing a handy record for dispute resolution, managers can quickly assess productivity, profitability levels and opportunities for training and improvement in their teams. And they can do this across multiple channels through a single app.
Remote working is not purely a fallback for the unexpected. Modern employees expect greater flexibility at work including work-from-home provisions – 85% want to telecommute 100% of the time. In order to attract and retain the brightest candidates, businesses are going to need to invest in their Unified Communications systems or risk their valuable, experienced workers leaving for a competitor who will.
Learn more about the benefits of Unified Communications and how to make remote working work in our free eGuide: Creating The Modern Workplace.