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Enabling Remote Work with UC
Effective communication is vital to almost all business processes. The ease with which an agent can interact with customers has a profound impact on the service you offer. How well your team communicates with one another has a similarly critical effect on productivity. 86% of professionals blame workplace failures in ineffective communication.
The importance of tip-top communication has kept many organizations centralized. It’s tough enough to ensure effective interaction amongst a workforce that’s all in one place. For a long time, having good communication with a dispersed team was too big of a challenge. It’s what prevented remote working from being viable for many businesses. That’s all changing.
The development, in particular, of 5G and unified communications (UC) solutions - that aids remote working for a wide range of firms - are driving the change. We’re going to get into exactly how UC supports remote working. Before that, it’s worth drilling down deeper into the modern drive toward remote working.
The Drive Toward Remote Working
A study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found a 159% increase in remote work in the US between 2005 and 2017. By 2017, 3.4% of the US population were permanent remote workers.
IWG research showed the importance that staff place on being able to work remotely, at least some of the time. 80% of respondents said that if offered two similar jobs, they would turn down the one that had no facility for flexible working.
Employees are clearly big fans of working remotely. That, in itself, is enough reason to make it an option worth thinking about for many businesses. What makes it more appealing to firms is that remote working also aids productivity.
The same IWG survey delivered some impressive results in that regard. Of the 15,000 asked, 85% confirmed that productivity rose at their firms as a result of greater flexibility. It’s little wonder that companies are looking to solutions to support these best practices.
How UC Supports Remote Workers
UC platforms are one of the leading solutions firms turn to for enabling remote working. The central premise of UC is the integration of all a company’s communications channels. Rather than every channel being separate, they’re all unified on one platform.
Bringing email, phone, and other options together has several benefits. For one thing, there are often significant cost changes. An integrated UC platform makes remote working viable even for smaller businesses. There are four principal areas where UC helps to enable remote working:
- Flexibility & mobility
- More efficient communication
- Better collaboration
- Employee engagement
Enabling Flexibility & Mobility
Remote working is a broad phrase. Remote workers could be staff who work from a laptop at home rather than an office workstation. They could be team members whose duties see them travel the country or the world. UC is a solution that is tailor-made for such mobility and flexibility.
New UC solutions are cloud-based. That means any user authorized to do so can access their features wherever they are. They can log in to the platform and communicate with colleagues or customers as if they’re in the office. That’s even if they’re at home, on the road, in the airport, or anywhere else besides.
This freedom to be mobile supports remote working in a vast array of practical ways. Imagine, for instance, a customer service agent. They often work in contact centers, to give them ready access to all the channels and data they may need. With a UC solution, they can get all that from home.
Your agent can log in and field calls from their living room. When needed, they can check on orders or emails from one unified platform. They can even reach colleagues or company experts via your hosted PBX, just as if they’re at the office.
In this area, UC makes remote work as efficient as traditional employment. It means you don’t have to compromise standards to give staff the flexible work they want.
Achieving More Efficient Communication via Integration
Another principal strength of UC is how it integrates different channels. In modern business, staff interacts – with one another and with customers – in a variety of ways.
Most workers handle many email and social media accounts, as well as making and taking calls. That’s not to mention any live chat, IM, or video conferencing channels your firm may use. If all the channels are separate, workers can spend too much time hopping between them.
Changing between and managing so many separate channels is always time-consuming. It’s even worse in the case of remote working. Employees who aren’t at a central location rely on digital channels more than any others. They’re their only means of contacting the rest of the team.
With UC, all channels integrate into one platform. Whenever a worker needs a particular account or application, they can find it in the same place. That saves time and allows for far more efficient communication across the board.
Fostering Better Collaboration Through Diverse Channels & Features
Alongside mobility and convenience, UC solutions also excel in terms of collaboration. Many of the best UC platforms have elements and features to take remote cooperation to new levels. Such features allow remote employees to support and work with colleagues proficiently.
Disparate staff can work well together as if they were in the same room. Video calls and virtual meeting channels are the most obvious examples. The features ensure that video is no longer a channel purely for marketing. It’s now easy to hold remote conferences via a UC platform. All team members, wherever they are, can contribute to critical meetings with ease.
Crucially, your team can also communicate visually, thanks to video conferencing. There’s an oft-cited rule that as much as 93% of human communication is non-verbal. Whether the figure truly is that high or not, visual cues are vital to superior communication. UC solutions let remote workers pick up on and contribute to that essential non-verbal transfer of information.
Many UC platforms, too, boast additional features to support collaboration further. Screen and document sharing features are excellent examples. These tools help workers to cooperate closely on projects and share information. It doesn’t matter at all where they are. They’re one more way that UC makes working in a single location an option, not a necessity.
Helping Maintain Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is critical for any business to achieve. Having an engaged workforce is a path toward improved performance and success. The link between engagement and work performance is borne out by a Harvard Business Review report.
The report found that 71% of respondents saw engagement as very important to organizational success. Only 24% of the respondents, though, said that their employees were highly engaged. That difference reveals that getting staff engaged is a challenge for many companies.
With a remote workforce, engagement is even tougher to achieve. Employees spread over the country – or world – often don’t have a sense of community or camaraderie. It’s easy for those workers to become detached, disengaged, and less productive.
UC helps firms to meet this issue head-on. As well as assisting day-to-day tasks, collaborative tools can also boost business culture. Occasional video conferences will help remote staff feel more a part of your company. Those simple check-ins help to keep workers engaged. That, in turn, aids in maintaining working efficiency throughout your remote team.
UC Could Power the Future Workforce
The desire for remote or flexible working is strong amongst the modern workforce. People increasingly want employment that fits with their lives. Many people see remote working as vital to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Businesses are going to have to consider how they can offer such an option to their staff.
UC is the solution that many organizations are turning to, to enable remote working. Platforms that unify communication support a disparate workforce in a range of ways. They allow staff a degree of mobility that means they can work effectively from anywhere.
The best UC solutions, too, help workers communicate and collaborate as if they were working face-to-face. Finally, UC also meets the challenge of employee disengagement head-on. Intelligent use of UC platforms can keep remote workers motivated and content.
For all those reasons and more, UC is key to enabling a modern, mobile workforce. The kind of workforce which will propel your firm to succeed in the new decade and beyond.