Everything Voice recently participated in a virtual event to discuss strategies for the future of remote working. It’s an important topic at a difficult time.
Some degree of lockdown is likely to be with us until at least next spring, and many businesses are already considering a switch to more flexible working patterns for the long term. What will that mean for communications, and what have we learned so far from this Covid-dominated year? Here are some of our insights from the event.
We may have overdone the Zoom meetings…
The general sense from business leaders and communications experts at the event was that, after lockdown was first announced in March, we all went a bit ‘virtual meeting mad’. Meetings were scheduled for everything, as businesses scrambled to maintain internal communications and a sense of togetherness. But many employees found the endless rounds of Zoom calls and Teams meetings exhausting and intrusive. They left little time for productive work.
As lockdown wore on, many businesses transitioned to a more effective strategy. Some more informal conversations started happening using chat functions. The humble telephone call started making a comeback, as a quicker, more personal alternative to a scheduled meeting. The advice from the gathered experts was to keep a block of time free for check-ins and catch-ups, use chat or calling where appropriate, and save scheduled meetings for times when they are truly necessary.
The importance of chat, IM and calling is hard to overstate. Research suggests that more than a third of UK workers have felt lonely over lockdown and quick, informal chat conversations or check-in calls can help employees connect regularly on a more human level.
We need more data
In March, we all decamped to kitchen tables and back bedrooms and got back to work. In some ways we coped well, with many employees saying they were at least as productive at home as they had been in the office. But where was the data?
While businesses quickly equipped staff with collaboration tools, many still don’t feel they have enough information about how these tools are being used, and what contribution they are making to teamwork and productivity. That’s important, because it’s hard to create a communications strategy for the future without data to inform our decisions. Regular employee pulse surveys can help, but more systematic monitoring tools and analytics are required.
Our future is in the cloud
Over lockdown, cloud-based Unified Communication platforms proved their worth by giving dispersed employees the tools they need to work from anywhere, on any device. Flexibility was key during the pandemic and will continue to be essential, long after it ends.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that cloud adoption has increased dramatically during Covid, with cloud communications becoming the strategic option for businesses wanting speedy deployment, agility and easy scalability. Still, while companies rapidly adopted SaaS applications, challenges remain, especially around security and compliance. After a rushed response at the start of the pandemic, businesses are beginning to ask important questions about their SaaS services: which DCs are being used? Do you offer encryption? Where are our calls routed?
Nevertheless, the consensus at the event was that, despite concerns, the benefits of flexible, access-from-anywhere SaaS would outweigh any lingering anxiety over security. Experts agreed that, at least to begin with, many businesses would implement hybrid cloud solutions, allowing them to make the most of legacy systems while gradually transferring components to the cloud. Some infrastructure would probably have to remain on-premise in the short term though, for speed, back-up and security reasons mostly.
Getting communications right is crucial
Perhaps the most important takeaway is that communications technology is likely to play an increased role in the success (or otherwise) of business through the pandemic and beyond. Teams need to talk to each other openly and quickly. Even after the pandemic, more of these conversations will be happening virtually, via chat, messaging, video, audio and email.
Employees are getting used to this broad range of communications channels and are using them for both formal and informal engagement. Firms should encourage employees to find creative ways to maintain team spirit and company culture, and ensure they have the tools and services in place to allow their people to collaborate and communicate in ways that best suit the given situation.
Contact Everything Voice
For more information on future-proofing your business communications, please contact Everything Voice. We would be happy to help. Simply book a call, fill in an enquiry form, or chat with us now online.