For some considerable time now, the homeworking trend has been on the rise. The need of a large office space is increasingly unnecessary; high rent prices, semi-avoidable costs and top candidates favouring remote-working options are becoming the norm – especially within millennials, which famously favour employers offering at least some degree of remote working.
As businesses move towards a distributed workforce, making sure the right technologies are in place is critical. Adopting a Unified Communications (UC) platform is an important step towards boosting remote work productivity. Having all the required applications in one simple-to-use interface streamlines your worker's workload.
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
Access to shared systems like emails, calendars, documents and the phone system are crucial to your employees within the office. The same level of access will be essential to employees working remotely.
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 make 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.
In most cases a Unified Communications tools ensures there is a minimal learning curve or any of the associated loss of productivity. The IT technician will appreciate fewer “how do i…?” type calls – and the fact they must only configure and support a single platform rather than a collection of tools.
Overall having an all-in-one solution helps save time and money, all whilst 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 fall-back 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.