Regardless of your business arena, whether that be retail, recruitment, insurance or healthcare, or a myriad of industries in between, one thing almost every business owner is now adapting to is managing a remote workforce.
It would have seemed near inconceivable when we were established 25 years ago to imagine we’d be holding voice or video conference calls across multiple sites or sharing live data from a hand-held device while having lunch parked up in your car. But this is the world we now operate in and, done right, it should be embraced.
In essence, businesses with a remote workforce should be working towards a unified communications system that can be used to drive a business forward and not just be deemed as a necessary evil that places demands upon time, resource and the bottom line.
Cabling and connectivity will, no doubt, still play a pivotal role in helping a business to succeed. However, my advice is to adapt a five-point “SMART” plan, and it’s one we are championing here at TSI.
- Stay connected
- Meet anywhere
- Appreciate your colleagues
- Reach out
1. Stay connected
Get cloud based unified communications to replace your on site PBX telephone system, including an “app” that runs across all of your devices and computers. This will allow your employees to stay on top of work and in touch at all times. And, stay connected anywhere so all remote staff and office-based staff that occasionally work remotely can use one device for all land, business and personal calls.
We are now seeing apps that can detect whether a personal or business call is being made so numbers can remain private and professionalism is kept at the fore.
2. Meet anywhere
Like the famous drinks adverts of the past, all workers should be able to stay connected “anytime; any place anywhere” – as I have mentioned above – and without exception this should include meetings. This way we can create a virtual meeting room that is quick, clear and simple.
The new mobile, or remote workforce relies upon ease of use and speed of process, so make sure they are equipped with mobile software that allows them to manage and partake in conference calls and video meetings with minimum hassle and at the touch of a button.
We are all striving for ways to improve our business communications strategies and simplifying the processes for our colleagues when away from the office can help to ease this.
3. Appreciate your colleagues
Sometimes it’s not just the technology that needs to be robust, we need to remember that our greatest asset is our people. Remote working can at times be lonely, or a remote worker may feel that they are not part of the wider team.
Of course, it’s important to meet up regularly for face-to-face meetings but, when this isn’t possible, make sure they are included in all communications and that they are part of on-going development.
Internal messaging, or employee benefit apps that co-workers can communicate through enables everyone to keep in touch and feel “loved”. Insist everyone is working from the same platforms and give them the “tools for the job” even if a little more investment is needed to obtain the right software and seats. After all, they are worth it.
4. Reach out
Reach out and collaborate. While email has been fantastic for file sharing in recent years, it can be rather clunky for your staff to manage while on the move. Remote employees need to be able to share files in real-time with enhanced security so all parties, including internal colleagues and clients, can rest assured the file will only be read by its intended recipient and without any associated buffering issues. Unified messaging allows colleagues to access voice and video messaging from any location and any device.
Ensure the latest technology is available to all remote workers. Not only will sharing be made easier with the right, collaborative software, it will be more efficient and will enable faster sharing of larger files that can often slow down in the sending or downloading process.
Finally, it’s vital that your workforce is trusted. Likewise, that you work with suppliers you also trust.
A reputable and reliable telecoms company should have in-house teams able to deliver all services you require, and not outsource the installation because they don’t have their own CSCS certified engineers, or have departments that don’t speak to each other and know what is going on. Unfortunately it’s not unusual to never speak to the same person twice.
If communications fail, and this may indeed happen at the most inappropriate time, you need the assurance it will be dealt with fast – more so when your workforce may be spread across multiple sites and regions. Have systems in place with your supplier to enable a swift and successful contingency plan.
By following these five key points, you will be thinking “SMART” in relation to your remote workforce.
Things are changing, much of it down to hosted unified communications that affords businesses with the benefits of a cloud-based service to manage all the above and more. We can provide businesses with end-to-end solutions regardless of size and it’s important to be equipped to deal with the “now” and to be future-proof to maintain that competitive edge in the future.
About the author: Steve Kyprianou, managing director of TSI.