When Face-to-Face Isn’t an Option, Reliable Digital Communication Should be Top of Mind
You’re all packed and ready to head to a conference to meet with clients, but flight cancellations, weather, or the flu hits and you can no longer get to your meetings. Time to move on to plan B- video conferencing. While digital communication can never replace the value of face-to-face interaction, there are situations where it is the best option given the circumstances. With more people turning to real-time communications to interact with colleagues and clients around the world, your network can easily become overloaded. At a time when you need real-time communications more than ever, you might end up having to resort to emails to avoid the embarrassment of being on a choppy, disjointed call because the network is being flooded with more requests than it can handle.
Rise in the Mobile Workforce
More than four in 10 U.S. employees (43%) work away from their team members, at least some of the time. Working remotely is a popular benefit among employees because it offers the greater flexibility that our busy lives often require. From having a sick child at home to snowstorms and appointments, having the option to not be tied to the office from 9AM-5PM, Monday to Friday is definitely a perk. There are always good business reasons to enable remote working, from discouraging sick employees from coming into work, commuting during inclement weather or decreasing business travel. Offering employees greater flexibility also offers the business that same flexibility. Sometimes work requirements fall outside of business hours, especially if you are dealing with people outside of your timezone. The ability to work remotely means that employees can take calls at home instead of having to stay late or head back to the office in the evenings. Enabling remote work opens the doors for a company to adapt to a variety of situations that can often be beyond their control.
Having a host of digital tools including web conferencing and email, mobile collaboration applications and virtual event platforms is essential in enabling productivity away from the office. Most organizations are still either in the fairly early stages or have not committed enough yet to fully invest in strategies that enable employees to work remotely, which means there is considerable room to improve the digital employee experience when working outside the office.
At this point, telecommuting has varied acceptance from business to business, and even from manager to manager. It generally works well for people who are self-starters and enjoy working alone. They have a job that doesn’t require constant collaboration or physical proximity to the tasks they complete each day. The growing popularity of remote work is no longer restricting collaboration and productivity only when they commute to the office.
It’s now time to double down on your investments in videoconferencing and unified communications solutions to take advantage of the opportunities of remote work. Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Mitel Teamwork, Slack and others can help your company enable remote communication. Unified Communications (UC) performance, as with any voice, video or VPN traffic, is tightly intertwined with the underlying network performance. If the packets take too long to reach their destination and return, users will experience delay. If the speed continues to change, they will experience jitter. If the network is saturated, it will start dropping packets and users will start to experience choppiness on the line and voice quality will start to break down. Ultimately, all three scenarios will result in poor voice quality and a terrible call experience.
By measuring these key metrics in real-time, IT specialists can receive advance notice that users are about to experience poor voice quality if no corrective measures are taken.
The promise of UC, integrated Internet-enabled chat, messaging, voice and video has always been used to bridge the gap between knowledge workers, no matter where in the world they are. With many companies having global offices, collaboration online is an essential tool to getting the best value from your team. Cloud-based service providers and platforms give us easy access to everything people used to need to go into “the office” for work.
The Cloud has revolutionized the way end users access their data and applications. Gaining popularity with consumers at first, organizations have begun to see the benefits and are now beginning to move more applications from their on-premise servers to the Cloud. Offering greater flexibility and accessibility, cloud-based applications offer the ability to work and collaborate without being physically in the office. Cloud-hosted platforms including Office 365 which includes a host of productivity software such as email, document sharing, presentations and spreadsheets, allows people to access the data remotely without using a VPN. All that is needed is Internet access and credentials, which makes it far easier to work anywhere.
Many businesses have taken a hybrid cloud approach, maximizing the potential of both on-premise and cloud offerings. If your resources are located on-premise, you need to make sure that they can be accessed properly from both inside the office and remotely. Using network optimization you can ensure business continuity should your main site go down. An inbound Geolink can redirect traffic to an alternate site should your main site lose operational capabilities. With iDNS you can steer external users to the best available path for inbound requests for internal resources.
Offering secure remote access to business assets and online services enables employees to do their job from anywhere.
The problem with the home office is that it is outside of the corporate network, so you can’t monitor traffic and performance. You can’t assume workers have adequate online access at home or elsewhere. While many will, someone won’t have reliable or fast enough service. The largest blind spot is knowing how much bandwidth workers will need to be optimally productive, and assessing that will pay off in the long run. You can make sure that your remote employees have access to a “good enough” environment before authorizing them to work remotely. One way of doing this is by using UCScore to measure whether they can, in fact, sustain the demands of their workload. Poor calls reflect poorly on your company’s brand, and corporate policies need to reflect that.
Less time commuting means more productive time for people in general. With the rise in the mobile workforce, productivity needs to continue beyond the infrastructure of the office environment. As 5G rolls out and becomes a reliable connection, autonomous vehicles will need to become an extension of the WAN. Time in traffic will become an opportunity to shift to work or leisure because you won’t have to worry about operating the vehicle. This will act as an incentive for enterprises to convert idle travel time to productivity for employees. This means providing access to corporate resources including voice over IP, video conferencing and VPN. Thinking about how you can bolster your company infrastructure now will help prepare and maximize the next wave of technological evolution.
It is possible that the emergency adoption of remote work, like in cases of a global epidemic, could lead to long-term changes in behaviour, according to Roberta Witty, an analyst at research and consulting firm Gartner Inc. who specializes in business continuity management.