The hosted unified communications (UC), or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), market continues to expand as the technology develops. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are those most likely adopt this service. The desire to use UCaaS is logical for SMBs because of their need for mobility, as they often employ sales teams and other employees who spend a lot of time in the field.
At the same time, SMBs typically have smaller IT teams that may struggle to meet the technological needs of the company. In order to meet these demands, hosted cloud services are ideal. There are several benefits smaller enterprises experience when switching to UCaaS.
Increased Productivity and Technological Capabilities
One of the main advantages of UCaaS is the ability for SMBs to operate much like their larger, corporate competitors by using state-of-the-art technology that allows employees to easily connect with coworkers, customers, and business partners. UCaaS allows remote employees to conduct business as if they were operating out of a local office. Rather than waiting for email responses, instant messaging capabilities allow for real-time questions and updates. Many companies don’t even make phone calls anymore unless they absolutely have to, since UCaaS provides efficient communication methods that replace voice communications.
For businesses that do rely on voice communications, UC can include features such as “Find Me/Follow Me” that put calls through to multiple people until someone available can answer. A hosted UC solution can also transcribe voicemail messages and provide links to audio for employees’ convenience.
Streamlined Administration and Deployment
Another benefit of a hosted UC solution is increased efficiency of administration and deployment. If a company’s internal network is capable, businesses can make a full transition to hosted UC within weeks of implementation. Employees can download necessary apps on pre-programmed mobile devices, giving workforces all of the tools they need to run operations smoothly. Employees and employers can use a web portal to centralize administration operations, with custom profiles that make it easy for each person to use.
Hosted UC offers customers a simple, reasonable monthly OpEx charge and eliminates the costs of integrating the new Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks, private branch exchange (PBX), and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) that are normally required. There’s no need for third party video conferencing or other solutions, because they’re included with UCaaS. A/V collaboration is also included in the final price, along with regular and long distance calling.
Improved Coworker and Customer Collaboration
Online collaboration is another element that’s simplified with UCaaS. People can communicate with each other from any location. If someone is traveling for a business meeting miles away from the office and needs more information from a certain department, he or she can simply use a private audio or video conferencing solution to bring the other, more knowledgeable colleague into the meeting instantly.
These are just several of the many benefits that make switching to UCaaS an invaluable decision for any business.
Adults who grew up in the northern areas of the United States and experienced harsh winters may fondly remember the unfettered joy of “snow days,” those unscheduled days off from school due to inclement weather conditions. However, snow days may soon go the way of mimeograph paper and typewriting classes. In fact, some school administrators have instituted the concept of remote work. This means students learn remotely from home when dangerous weather conditions close schools.
These progressive school districts equip students with the necessary devices, like iPads and laptops, to access the day’s lesson plans online from home. Public funding allows these “loaner” devices to be given to the students who need them over the course of the school year. It eliminates the need for sharing electronic devices in school-based computer labs.
Future Workplace Trends
One possible outgrowth of this trend is that a generation of students will be accustomed to flexibility, unsupervised productivity, and self-sufficiency in the workplace. It has the potential to permanently alter the employment culture for businesses in the years to come.
Web-based applications allow employees to access and enter data from virtually anywhere in the world. While brick-and-mortar offices will never be completely eliminated, requiring workers to remain physically present in their workplaces every day can be curtailed. Supervisors will still be able to monitor employee productivity from their remote work locations, enabling them to target any “cyberloafers” and respond appropriately.
Flexible Employment Benefits
The business community has been flirting with the concept of remote work for decades, with flex-time schedules offered as part of some benefit packages. But the concept has never fully taken flight. Below are benefits for companies that implement flexible employment options for their workers.
- Recruitment value. Remote work on either a full-time, part-time, or as-needed basis can be a part of an appealing benefit package offered to talented prospective employees. Under the right circumstances, it can be the deciding factor for a job candidate weighing several employment offers from competitors.
- Decreasing operational costs. Heating and cooling an office building is a considerable expense. Some calculations indicate that American companies could see profit increases up to $665 billion annually, or anywhere from $10,400 – $13,200 per worker each year by implementing telecommuting for only half of the time.
- Increasing employee morale. Smart business owners realize that content employees who have flexible work options are more likely to remain with their companies, reducing worker turnover and training costs.
Remote Work Options
Companies can pave the way for this employment sea change now. Some options include:
- Putting it on the cloud. Embracing cloud-based unified communications (UC) in the workplace enables remote work and telecommuting for employees.
- Formulating a disaster plan. Some disruptions to workflows can be anticipated, but others are unexpected and can wreak havoc on businesses. Businesses with proactive and well-understood plans for remote work is key to keeping operations up and running smoothly.
- Having the right technologies in place. Remote networking tools, like virtual private networks (VPNs), assure accessibility and security.
Change for companies with a 9-to-5 culture isn’t going to happen overnight. However, considering the future workforce is growing up with remote learning in place at school, a transformation is on the horizon. The movers and shakers of tomorrow are sure to influence the employment landscape that was established centuries ago.