Over the past two years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way people work, and businesses have been forced to adopt new communications solutions to maintain employee productivity.
Remote working has become popular out of necessity, resulting in a move towards a long-term ‘work-from-anywhere’ model for most companies. As a result, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) has found new life, with the growing need for tools to accommodate remote working and increase workforce productivity.
Business’ new-found reliance on UCC emphasises the value of its dynamic functionality, enabling instant access to information whilst facilitating multimedia collaboration and reducing operating costs.
This greater focus on UCC as a result of the changing working landscape has also led to new usage patterns emerging. Here is a breakdown of some of the current trends that are shaping UCC today.
Work from home
There are more employees working from home than ever before, and all are accessing corporate systems, services and platforms remotely every day. This has caused IT teams to revamp their approaches to workplace communications to ensure they are secure.
To make remote working easier for employees, and to allow them to connect with co-workers and communicate across devices, an increasing number of businesses are adopting tools that enable real-time collaboration. Instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video calling and social networking have all increased in popularity.
These methods of communication offer more flexibility than traditional solutions like email as they allow employees to share information quickly and efficiently. In today’s hyper-connected workforce, these communications channels overlap in ways that enhance communication. For example, the majority of them can be accessed on multiple devices, making work colleagues easy to reach.
UCC in hybrid work
In addition to remote working, many organisations are adopting a hybrid workplace, where some staff members work remotely, while others are located in the central office. This switch is a result of the focus on improving employee happiness and productivity, but also enables businesses to save money on operational costs.
To achieve unified communications when operating via a hybrid working model, companies need to implement solutions that seamlessly integrate multiple devices. This allows flexibility on device usage and means staff can use the device that is most suited to their needs, and can switch between using desktop computers in the office and laptops or other portable devices when working at home.
Unified Communication as a service (UCaaS) means that communications services run through a cloud-based platform. UCaaS is accessible via a hosted environment, meaning IT departments can maintain a level of control over security without having to install or maintain costly protection equipment or software.
The versatility of UCaaS solutions makes it ideal for businesses that need tight integration between different software. As business processes change and new technologies emerge, companies that use UCaaS gain access to scalable and customisable platforms that do not require upgrades every couple of years.
Its popularity has increased as it can be cheaper than other options and users appreciate being able to manage their communications through a single portal instead of a cluster of separate applications. Cloud-based UC services are also user-friendly, easy to integrate and flexible enough to serve any business’ needs.
Messaging has also become an important mode of communication in the corporate setting. In a UCaaS environment, messaging can refer to anything from real-time collaboration applications, to SMS and MMS texts.
When used correctly, messaging provides employees with the opportunity to stay connected more efficiently. It also offers an excellent way to reach out to clients and customers.
UCaaS solutions can further support messaging as a form of business communication, as they offer companies an efficient way to manage and organise their messaging strategy so they can offer a choice-led service to consumers.
With bring your own device (BYOD) now far more prevalent as a result of remote working, businesses have realised that their mobile workforce needs UCC solutions that provide access to everything they rely on to work, no matter where they are.
By adopting UCC solutions, businesses can improve their agility by allowing teams to collaborate from different locations, whilst reducing the costs associated with travel. In some cases, remote workers may even perform more tasks than on-site employees because of reduced distractions.
The new working landscape has opened many businesses’ eyes to the potential of UCC technologies. It has compelled companies to adopt these technologies to reap their benefits and ensure they can offer greater flexibility to their employees, as well as increase productivity and provide better service to clients.
As businesses continue hybrid and remote working, it is likely that we will see more new technologies emerge to further accommodate and enhance new working patterns.
With 2022 just around the corner, and the BT Openreach PTSN and IDSN switch off fast approaching, it is likely that even more businesses will join the UCC revolution.
Oliver Rowe is founder and CEO of Fusion Communications.