Remote working is much more than a temporary response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses are adopting it as a practical and efficient way of working.
If this is the plan for your business, you should be prepared to provide excellent communications that will help your team to adapt. As well as essential business tools, some people will also want to maintain the social side of work that helps them to stay motivated and feel supported.
A recent survey found that investment in IT is now much easier to justify, with IT decision makers saying that, after migration to Windows 10, unified communications is one of their top priorities, with an emphasis on data security and protection.
How unified communication can help
You can help your team to adapt to new ways of working with unified communications and collaboration (UCC), which will allow your team members to collaborate seamlessly, using one application, wherever they are.
You will probably be familiar with Google as an example of unified communication and collaboration; it does much more than search the internet for answers to your questions; it provides Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Hangouts, and Voice for phone calls.
Engage with your team
Not everyone will see remote working as a positive change, and a UCC approach will help your business to make the transition.
You can help people by providing the right applications, equipment and sensible advice about working safely, whether they are at home or at another remote location. You can send everyone clear messages about how and when they are expected to work.
Instant messages to everyone or just those who are involved in certain activities or projects can be used to replace office ‘banter’. You can share a joke, a thought for the day, or shout out for someone who has ‘gone the extra mile’.
Let the team know that you are worried about their health and wellbeing with daily reminders to take a break, go for a walk, or have some water. It all helps to keep everyone motivated.
To keep coordination on track you can share files and calendars and hold voice and video conference calls easily. While we’re not meeting face to face, this can be a really good way to help people feel that they are still in touch.
Providing some structure to the remote-working week is more important than ever, and UCC will make it easy for you to book a video call with everyone at a specific time on a certain day. You can all catch up with work related issues and share videos, have a chat, or even play some games.
UCC can all be delivered from one application, accessed via any device, whether your employees are working in the office or remotely at home, from a park bench, or even another country.
What you’ll need for unified communication
As a good as its word, UCC makes collaboration within your business and externally really straightforward. It will support communication between customers, staff, suppliers and prospects.
In most cases, all you need is a good broadband connection, providing secure access to different communications channels and applications for your employees to do their jobs and support your customers.
With 190million 5G-ready devices expected to be available this year, documents and information can be shared via smartphones on the move, and access to high definition video conferencing can be available almost anywhere. Augmented and virtual reality could also deliver a much more immersive virtual working environment.
The top priority is ease of use. For example, users want to join meetings easily through their browser and want a service where updates are automatic after installation, making unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions in the cloud a popular choice.
We recommend the following three unified communications tools; Horizon Collaborate, Mitel MiCollab and Wildix Collaboration.
A lot of communication outside the office will take place using email. Microsoft Office 365 is a good solution for most businesses. Most people use lists and tasks to help them stay productive and some office systems will include this. If you don’t already have a tool, we recommend Microsoft To-Do, which can be integrated with Outlook.
To share electronic documents, you will also need a secure and accessible place to store them such as OneDrive, Dropbox or SharePoint.
Whatever type of business you run, you’ll need centralised customer records to deliver good customer service and to improve sales. We use WebCRM but there are a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) systems available for all sizes and types of business. Importantly, they can give you an integrated view of your sales, marketing, finance, supply chain and distribution.
In recent months other features have also been in demand, especially virtual backgrounds for video calls and conferences, meeting transcription and translation services.