WORKING TOGETHER WHEN APART: THE AGE OF SEAMLESS COMMUNICATIONS

Alfie Brown

Are you ready to return to the office? Whatever your plans, ensure your communications are safe and efficient with Croft Communications.

What are your plans for your workforce now that lockdown restrictions are easing? A return to office life is the expectation for many, but it’s likely that you’ve seen the benefits of remote working too. You may be planning a phased return to work, allowing some staff back into the office while others remain at home for longer. Or you might decide to offer flexible working options to all employees, letting all staff switch between home and the office as required.

Whatever your strategy, it’s clear that remote working is likely to remain an option in certain circumstances, while a physical presence in the office will probably continue, too. So, going forward, it will be important to maintain seamless communication between office and remote workers so that business continues as usual wherever it’s being done. To support this, you’ll need a robust telecoms infrastructure to ensure that colleagues are able to collaborate securely and work together efficiently, even if they’re not all in the same physical location at once.

Here are some issues to consider now.

Collaboration: working together when apart

Technology like videoconferencing and instant messaging has been invaluable in maintaining virtual links with colleagues during the pandemic. Shared files and documents stored in one central Cloud location are another vital element of remote working. These tools will likely remain essential with a partial return to the office. But how do you keep track of all these different collaboration methods? With a Unified Communications solution, it doesn’t matter which medium of communication you choose, or where you are. Video calls, emails, faxes, documents, texts, instant messages and voice calls can all be accessed in one central Cloud location – meaning that it’s equally easy to work from home or in the office. This is ideal for a hybrid remote / office-based setup and means you can be totally flexible about where people work and when.

Security and home working policies

Data protection has been a thorny issue for businesses during the pandemic. Those logging in from home devices may be vulnerable to viruses that could compromise your files, while it’s difficult to monitor and protect sensitive data when it’s being accessed in multiple locations, away from the office. Going forward, if you haven’t already, it’s vital for your business to put in place some robust policies and procedures surrounding home working, with the technology to back them up. Staff training, call recording and company-issued devices are all essential tools to keep your data secure.

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Call distribution: how will you divert your incoming calls?

This is an issue you will have faced during the lockdowns, but it may become more complicated if some staff are working in the office while others are located at home.

Callers to your business won’t know where you are – all they want is a professional person to pick up the phone and help them with their query. So, behind the scenes, you’ll need a reliable call diverting system to ensure that the right calls go through to the right people at the right times. Business mobiles will need to link seamlessly with your office telephone system, so you can route calls to the right person, put people through to a colleague or speak to a co-worker, wherever they are. That’s easily done with Hosted Telephony, where voice calls and voicemails are hosted in the Cloud. This type of system is ’location agnostic’, which means it doesn’t care whereabouts you are when you use it.

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Downsizing the office: is this the future?

Could remote working be an opportunity to reduce your overheads and downsize your office? Many businesses may benefit from the savings this could bring. But if that’s your plan, there are a few things to consider.

· Social distancing. Although you may not have the same number of people working in the office as before, the space required to house them might be larger than you think. If you have to comply with social distancing requirements, careful planning will be needed to ensure you have enough square footage to accommodate all office-based staff and visitors.

· Flexibility. Will downsizing let you adapt to different business circumstances? It’s worth thinking through the implications of a reduced office presence. It might be wise to have a trial run of hybrid home and office working, before committing to a big change.

· Migrating your data and systems. If you’re moving somewhere new, one of the biggest tasks is to ensure that your IT infrastructure is transferred effectively to your new premises. That can be a headache if you’re dependent on the hardware set up in your existing office. It might be time to consider an upgrade to a Cloud-based system that isn’t tied to specific devices.

· Transferring your landline numbers. You don’t want any more ‘downtime’ than absolutely necessary, so it’s important to ensure that your customers have a seamless experience when you move premises. A Hosted Telephony service, where calls can be easily diverted, is a good way to achieve this.

· Business broadband. Is it time to switch to a new provider? Consider moving to a connectivity service that’s tailored to your requirements, so you only pay for what you need. This is especially valuable in a time when you’re still adjusting to the ‘new normal’, and you’re not yet certain how much you’ll be relying on virtual collaborations as opposed to in-person meetings.

Making the right choices for your business

Lifting lockdown is likely to represent a new way of working for the majority of companies: the old norms have been ripped up, and flexibility is the way forward. It’s a liberating thought: with the support of the right communications technology, you’re free to choose the combination of remote and office working that works for your business.

With Croft, you can!

Bring harmony to your connectivity with a bespoke approach to telecoms that can increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Call Croft on 01920 466466 or email info@croftcommunications.co.uk for a free quote, tailored to your business needs.

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