Work is an Activity, not a Place
Gone are the days when almost all employees made the daily journey to a communal corporate office, working from 9 to 5. As the work itself has expanded beyond the boundaries of a 40 hour work week, so have the places where employees conduct work from. A research report from Frost & Sullivan showed that more than half of all the employees in North American work outside of a traditional office at least some of the time. Whether from a hotel site, a customer site, or a home office, work is taking place everywhere at all hours of the day. Heightened concerns about work-life balance are adding to this trend of the virtual office, as employees seek to manage their personal obligations and work obligations without undue interference either direction.
Employees Demand Simplified Communications
According to the Brookings Institute, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. These people have grown up with a variety of easy-to-use, ubiquitous technology at their fingertips, and they expect it to be easy. It’s not just that they’re especially tech-savvy or comfortable on mobile devices, it’s that they don’t know of any other way to operate. Working in concert with others is far more important than it ever was before, and these people have grown up collaborating in a myriad of ways. Furthermore, as more ‘older’ generations of workers experience immersive experiences with video calling (ie., facetime) and similar next-generation technologies outside of the corporate context, these people are also demanding advanced communication tools and solutions within the business environment. And, above all, these tools must be easy to use and intuitive. Nobody – young or old – is going to pick up a manual to read about a new communications platform.
Collaboration & Productivity Tools for the New Reality
To be successful under this new reality, your company must have the tools necessary to foster effective communication with co-workers and customers, even when these groups rarely see each other in person. These collaboration and communication tools must run on any device, over any network.
Instant Messaging & Presence (“IM&P”)
– Makes it easy for your workers to “see” whether or not a co-worker is available, and to chat with each other.
Web Meetings & Desktop Sharing
– Users can collaborate in real time on documents or share their screen with others to discuss presentations, spreadsheets, text documents, whatever, via the web. Many companies are using web meetings to conduct sales presentations, management meetings, and a host of other things.
Mobility & BYOD
– Workers want to be able to conduct business on any device – whether business or personal – and across any network. Thin clients and downloadable apps extend the corporate persona and ability to make and receive calls to any device, like a personal cell phone.
– With more and more remote workers, audio conferencing is more important than ever, enabling multiple parties to discuss whatever they need to in real time. But while audio isn’t new, multi-party video conferencing is, and this is the fastest-growing segment of the conferencing market. Video adds the ability to read facial expressions and body language, facilitating deeper connections.
– Mobile workers need access to emails, voicemails, and chats in various formats across multiple endpoints, depending on where they are and what they are doing. Unified Messaging enables them to deal with all of these various modes of communications in a centralized manner.
To the extent you are able to deploy these types of newer tools in tandem with your core enterprise telephony platform, you will be able to achieve true unified communications and ensure that your company is well-positioned for what lies ahead.