Our CEO, Danny Windham, posted an article a few weeks ago on the 5 key business communications trends for 2016. One of the key trends he believes will continue to see growth is in flexible work options. Throughout 2015, over 3.7 million employees worked from home at least part time, and that number is expected to double in 2016. Companies that offer flexible work options for their employees enjoy higher employee moral, cost savings from not having to furnish office space, higher retention, and a wider talent pool from which to recruit new employees.
One of the key factors to help ensure companies are able to fully reap the benefits of a remote workforce is to deploy a Unified Communications (UC) system. The right system should include the tools required to keep employees connected and productive.
Here are some of the leading UC features and technologies that are enabling alternative work options:
A significant hurdle that often must be overcome for alternative work options to be possible is enabling teams to collaborate on projects, regardless of their location. Collaboration tools like audio conferencing, screen sharing, and video calls have made it possible for teams to communicate with the same effectiveness as if they were all together in the same physical conference room or office building.
Instant Messaging, or chat, has become an extremely important communications tool. A recent study by the Radicati Group found that there are now over 3.2 billion instant messaging accounts worldwide, which has more than doubled since 2013. It has become the primary mode of communications for many organizations, including Digium. Instant messaging greatly decreases the amount of email circulating and allows users to get answers quickly. This type of conversation style is perfect for remote users and teams since the experience is the same for all employees despite physical location.
Presence is a feature that allows users to let others know what’s going on with them by changing their presence, or status. For example, status can be set to Available, Away, Do Not Disturb and many other pre-set or customizable options. Presence allows managers access to the current status and whereabouts of their staff, both remote and office based, helping them keep track of everyone on their team and have confidence that work is moving forward.
Mobile functionality in UC systems has improved drastically over the past few years. What was once the ability to have incoming calls forwarded to your cell phone, is now the ability to have the same communications experience from your mobile phone as from you office desk phone. Features such as call recording, transfer, presence and others are now standard features that allow remote employees to have the same communications tools that in-office employees enjoy.
Cloud, or hosted, phone systems have made the once difficult and expensive undertaking of communications management and feature enablement of remote employees affordable and simple. Remote employees no longer need to configure hardware to connect them to the corporate system. Cloud-based phone systems now connect employees from all over the country with a simple Internet connection.
As you can see, communications tools make up a critical part of the solution for connecting your remote employees to the rest of the organization and enabling your company to also take advantage of all the benefits that come with offering flexible work options. For more information on how we can provide a solution for your company to make the transition to remote employees easy and cost effective, click here for a personal demo of Switchvox or join us for one of our upcoming webinars in the new series on business communications trends.