When the pandemic first struck, it forced many businesses to adopt new ways of working, and they found themselves relying on technology more than ever before to stay connected.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics [ONS], the proportion of adults working from home in 2020 increased to 37% on average from 27% in 2019 and, even now as we move towards 2022, Government enforced restrictions continue to cause disruption to day-to-day operations.
Businesses that haven’t already reassessed their technology and communication requirements should take the steps now to ensure their current systems are optimised for remote and hybrid working [splitting time between working from home and the office]. In this article, Oliver Rowe, Founder and CEO of Fusion Communications share his thoughts on the topic in more detail.
New technology can provide businesses with more flexibility and scalability both now and in the future, so it is important that they properly recognise the benefits of retaining it long-term.
New methods of communication
Working from home quickly nullified office phone systems. With teams no longer able to communicate face to face during lockdowns, businesses had to switch to alternative solutions to make calls to employees and clients.
With many businesses still requiring a handset to stay connected, softphone systems offered a convenient way for teams to communicate without the need of physical handsets for every home office. Using cloud technology to make calls instead of a traditional phoneline grants greater connectivity and reduces costs, allowing users to make calls from anywhere with devices they already own.
This is a core component in any effective remote/hybrid working plan and is something businesses will likely carry forward even after the pandemic. Reverting to traditional methods of communication would be short term, as analogue lines are set to be switched off in 2025.
Staying connected is easier than ever before
Many organisations were hesitant to adopt remote and hybrid working models prior to the pandemic, but our research shows 49% of businesses plan to increase their home working in the future.
Thankfully, staying connected is easier than ever before for businesses, due to the many types of technology available. Cloud applications and VoIP systems, for example, can act as a ‘virtual phone’, allowing users to speak via their computer’s microphone and speakers instead of a handset. Some solutions even offer apps that can be used on phones and tablets, giving users a visual interface they are more familiar with.
These solutions offer a wide range of innovative features, simple installation, and minimal onsite equipment, as well as no maintenance responsibility. There is also scope for growth and scalability, with the ability to add and remove phones on the system at any time without the need to purchase extra equipment.
When remote or hybrid working, new technology clearly plays a significant role in enabling better connectivity and means of collaboration, but organisations must consider how to engage those working remotely to get the most out of their solutions.
While bringing new technology and tools into an organisation can increase productivity, remote employees may be apprehensive. In fact, research from Ricoh shows around a third of employees feel unmotivated due to technology and communication issues.
Functionality is critical, but so is user-friendliness. Therefore, defining the right technology for the job is paramount as employees become increasingly independent from a single physical location, and assumptions about their technology capabilities can lead to digital isolation.
Taking an individual approach to workers can make a huge difference. Businesses should consider the unique needs of their team members and encourage them to share feedback, using this to solve common issues and optimise performance.
Frustration with devices or technology can be an issue at every level of a business, so any good telecommunications provider should be willing to provide training to ensure workers are using it correctly and to its full potential.
As working patterns become more flexible, businesses must optimise their technology solutions to stay connected. Doing so can not only benefit growth and productivity but can also enhance employee engagement.
Adopting new technology to navigate the pandemic was the first step, but it would be short-sighted for organisations not to consider the benefits of optimising their solutions for the long-term.