Most employees would still like to work remotely at least some of the time, reinforcing the sentiment that we will never return to the fully office-based environment of the past. Embracing the tools and platforms that enable hybrid work will be critical. But these need to balance security and bandwidth concerns with a willingness to improve familiarity with remote solutions and processes.
Central to this, is rethinking how voice and networking technologies can unlock business capabilities. According to the Microsoft State of Work Report, the majority of decision-makers in the US and India believe that the right technology can enable the remote workforce to be very effective. However, handling the transition from a completely remote environment due to the lockdown conditions of the past two years and one that reflects the potential of hybrid will be key to success.
The good news is that there are solutions available that can provide a foundation on which to build an enabling tech-driven work environment.
The potential of SD-WAN, connectivity, cloud PBX and voice have been made clear even before the pandemic. Despite this, there are business leaders who still do not understand how to get the best out of a more integrated voice and networking environment and learning to optimally collaborate and work from home have become one of the key organisational priorities. Doing so securely while still maintaining a corporate identity and nurturing the company culture are the others.
The result is the establishment of virtual collaboration sites where employees share and edit content, chat to one another, video call, use Web services, and so on. The likes of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 have become instrumental in providing the means to do so. And now that this has been done, even at a superficial level, companies can further enhance such environments by integrating collaboration with cloud PBX calling.
By injecting direct routing capabilities into these platforms, companies can further accelerate hybrid work and bridge the divide between the old way of working and the new. Even so, McKinsey believes that decision-makers must be aware that the potential for remote work is determined by tasks and activities, not occupations. Across all sectors, 38% of respondents in its survey expect their remote employees to work two or more days a week away from the office after the pandemic, compared to 22% of respondents surveyed before the pandemic.
Physical to virtual
Having voice and cloud voice services connected to the Teams endpoint means collaboration between employees (from an internal perspective) and customers (externally) can take place more effectively than before. This also reduces the number of platforms that the user and company need to support and interact with, significantly simplifying the entire engagement process.
For example, a boardroom takes up a significant amount of office real estate. And how often is it really used? Instead, businesses can deploy huddle rooms where people can collaborate in more manageable environments. They will also use Teams Meeting Rooms as the means to engage with one another. Invariably, this will result in the legacy boardroom shrinking, and the organisation much better able to deliver targeted environments more conducive to teamwork.
This will also create the impetus to transition from on-premises PBX solutions to cloud-based ones.
Additionally, direct routing can be used to integrate the cloud PBX into the collaboration platforms and employees can be reached on one number, whether at the office or working from home. They can dial out directly from Teams to any telephone number in the world, and access all of this through their mobile devices.
The enhancements in productivity by having an integrated environment cannot be ignored.
However, the security of mobile devices, become more crucial than ever. To this end, mobile device management will become a critical business component as collaboration extends beyond the desktop to the smartphone and tablet.
Platforms like Teams, direct routing technology, and even SD-WAN functionality mean different things to different people. But it all comes down to how the use of these solutions can deliver the strategic value vital to grow the business in a digitally-driven world where hybrid work will be the way of the future.
Ultimately, the organisation must ask itself what it wants to accomplish from this collaborative environment and identifying the quick wins and business use cases can make a significant difference to the company, its people and ultimately, its productivity.
The modern workplace needs to use integrated solutions that deliver a consistent and collaborative experience regardless of whether employees are interfacing face-to-face or remotely. By creating this universal approach to tools and collaboration, companies can significantly improve adoption and engagement as employees embrace this new way of working together.
Michael Ziervogel, GM: Microsoft Division at Saicom