The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has led to a vast number of employers to consider work-from-home strategies for their employees. While the jury is still out on the virus’s dangers, the fact remains that organizations are getting serious about work-from-home and are asking for help.
The major challenges of work-from-home include:
- Issues with employee supervision and accountability
- Loss of the benefits of in-person staff collaboration
- Telecommunications challenges of a geographically dispersed staff, resulting in disjointed and unpredictable call handling, presence, and messaging. This is often the biggest challenge: companies ask themselves — how can we present a unified, centralized organizational structure when many of our staff are working out of their homes or on the road?
The challenges can be overcome by Voice over IP (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UC), with the bonus effect of financial savings. We don’t have to get technical about it – let’s talk about how it can help an organization thrive while employees are safely working at home.
Unified Communications Allow for Employee Supervision
Today’s improved UC solutions include a function called Presence that indicates an employee’s status at their workstation (wherever that may be). Employees can choose statuses such as “Available”, “Away from Desk”, “At Lunch” and “On Vacation”. If an employee walks away from their workstation, their status can be set to automatically change. The UC system keeps track of time in each status for real-time supervision and historical reporting.
Taking it a step further, many companies have adopted the use of web cameras to ensure employees are working at their remote workstation. While this approach can work, it is suggested that the employer first use less-invasive measures like presence and productivity metrics, then move to camera use if certain benchmarks are being missed. Going “off-camera” can be used as a privilege that is earned by meeting the employer’s expectations of work-from-home employees.
Communication Tools for Collaboration
With work-from-employees separated from each other, there are concerns that projects requiring collaboration will suffer. This can be addressed with unified communication’s video conferencing features. Using this feature provides a live team environment that brings everyone together and decreases feelings of isolation. Many employees just leave their cameras on throughout the day (or are required to) for quick “drop-ins”.
Solving Telecommunications Challenges
Today’s better unified communication solutions include the ability to make and take calls from a PC or laptop connected to the internet. Most of us know that – but a quality UC system also provides the option for calls to be sent to “physical” lines like home phones and cell phones in case there are internet issues. Unified communications also takes care of privacy and company appearance challenges by sending the Caller ID of the company when dialing out to customers. A company with multiple locations can leverage this technology to present a unified organization to callers, avoiding the hassles of dialing multiple numbers to reach the right location.
Looking Ahead to Better Work From Home Options
By leveraging unified communication technology, work-from-home challenges can easily be overcome. In fact, many companies who have made the switch will never go back to the old way. To them, work-from-home has become a no-brainer. It improves productivity, retention, accountability, and safety. It’s also cheaper, thanks to UC solutions that have the added benefit of lower costs. While possible pandemics cause us to rethink our operations, the end result could make things better than they ever were.