The concept of the remote workforce is nothing new. And companies know that to retain and attract skilled employees, they must enable it. However, hybrid work policies change the way that teams work, collaborate and make decisions.
Deploying a unified communication and collaboration strategy ensures a productive and connected workforce. Warren Miller, solutions architect at Altron Managed Solutions, says communication and collaboration between employees that are in the office and those offsite has evolved – with the help of technology – to ensure that everyone has exactly the same experience, regardless of location.
“Unified communication and collaboration mean connecting people and spaces through the use of technology. The definition of the modern workspace has changed, with the flexible workplace becoming increasingly popular. Yet there’s still a requirement for people within the business to communicate with one another and with customers and partners. Businesses needed to find a way to make it happen. Deploying the right technology and tools can make the transition smooth and easy.”
It’s becoming commonplace for organizations to allow their workforce to work remotely several times a week. In fact, research has shown that over half of employees expect to work remotely at least two days a week, and CEOs expect more than a third of their workforce to be remote by 2025. Additionally, a 10% boost in productivity has been reported for employees using collaboration tools.
“Regardless of whether you’re working remotely or in the office, you need smart collaboration tools. A successful unified communications and collaboration strategy has several key elements, including the ability to hold inclusive meetings, where all users have the same experience, whether they’re in the room or remote. Everyone must have an equal seat at the table in terms of being seen and heard.
“The next important aspect is the ease of use, as it’s a major driver of ROI. If you implement a system that isn’t easy to use, employees will simply look for an alternative tool that is easier to work with. This will result in the use of applications that are outside of the company policy.
“Such systems must also be interoperable and flexible for future use. By this, I mean that online meeting platforms should allow different applications to communicate directly. So the user can select his or her tool of choice, yet communicate seamlessly with other meeting attendees, whether it be Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts. An enterprise license will have access to all those features across several meeting platforms.”
Today’s offices have freeform areas and huddle rooms, so the technology you choose must work in any type or size of room. Coupled with that is the ability to provide a consistent user experience whether it’s a smaller huddle space or a large boardroom.
In-office workers need to be able to reserve a meeting space depending on the equipment they need and the type of meeting. Room-scheduling systems provide high visibility into a space’s status: you can see at a glance which rooms are free, booked or occupied.
He goes on to explain: “The business’s unified communications and collaboration strategy will comprise the platform itself and the hardware you deploy. You need a unified communications platform that’s flexible enough to evolve with your future requirements; an open platform that will ensure that you aren’t locked into any one UC vendor.”
Solutions for smart collaboration integrate platforms from large multinational vendors with various hardware into a technology ecosystem that maximizes the platforms’ feature sets. This spans from the booking panel to the equipment inside the meeting room, including the ability to provision, monitor and manage all of the equipment.
“We collect data the entire time and carry out analytics to see whether rooms are occupied, how often they’re used, the type of rooms that are booked the most. We even look at which equipment is used inside those rooms, such as how people choose to share content (HDMI or wirelessly). Do they choose to drive content from their laptop or use the equipment available in the room? Which meeting apps are most popular? These trends can help the business make data-driven decisions about its future IT budget spend.
“This can be a large cost saver for the business in multiple ways. Not only can the business plan its future spend, but it also reduces the need to send technicians to the site. Anything that’s networkable can be monitored and faults can be addressed proactively and device firmware updated when required.
“Collecting data and generating reports helps organizations optimize their investments in people, spaces and technology,” he concludes.