As employers wrestle with the challenges of remote-first and hybrid workplaces, the importance of robust communication systems that cater to teams, regardless of location, has never been more critical.
To manage the realities and expectations of most modern employees, companies must prioritize secure internet, voice and collaboration solutions that not only meet current demands but also have the scalability required for future growth. Whether employees are working from home or elsewhere, they should have seamless access to the same suite of apps and services, ensuring a uniform user experience and functionality for all.
According to Statistics Canada, 41 percent of people prefer to work half their weekly hours remotely and another 39 percent want to work remotely for most, if not all, of their time. And though not every job can be performed virtually, an estimated 40 percent of all Canadian jobs can be effectively completed from home. However, remote work feasibility differs based on industry type. For example, about 85 percent of workers in finance and insurance can work remotely, compared to only 4 percent of those in the agricultural sector.
So, depending on the sector, the role of the employees, and whether or not they can work from home, employers’ communications systems need to be flexible enough to accommodate all needs.
Unfortunately, the communication systems that were quickly implemented in response to the pandemic may now be inadequate. Some businesses were forced to use whatever was available at the time including a variety of unsecure devices and apps. Which, to an extent, led to headlines and news stories about people hacking into conference calls.
Another result of the hastily deployed communication systems was email clients that weren’t integrated with conferencing services. This lack of integration resulted in systems that couldn’t consistently connect people who were using multiple devices and apps for their work. And in some cases, the solutions did not integrate with existing systems and tools, resulting in disorganized implementations and security vulnerabilities.
Businesses and IT teams were making the best of an unprecedented situation. However, some of those quickly implemented communication systems may now need to be evaluated for the future.
How to future-proof communications systems by aligning technology with hybrid workplaces
To future-proof communication systems and align them with the demands of hybrid workplaces, businesses require more dependable and adaptable alternatives to the one-size-fits-all solutions implemented during the pandemic.
Business and IT leaders should consider how their systems support a mobile and distributed workforce, now and in the future. If your organization is opting for a mobile-first strategy and planning to replace traditional desk phones with smartphones and tablets, ask yourself if your current system can manage this option.
With most of today’s communications being delivered by text, email and chat, combined with the demand for online conferencing and apps usage, the need for reliable technology is clear.
One future-proofing option is to move to a cloud-based unified communications system that can integrate different technologies and keep teams connected with voice, messaging and video calling. The cloud is increasingly becoming organizations’ top choice due to its security, simplicity, and reliability, with built-in disaster recovery, seamless integrations, and advanced data and analytics. And depending on the business’s capacity to internally manage its tech needs, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) leaves the complexities to an information and communications technology (ICT) provider.
The key is to look for a system flexible enough to accommodate the needs of a single phone user or a webinar for 1,000 users, for example.
Alternatively, for businesses that invested in a traditional, non-cloud voice communications system, the next step in modernizing their digital capabilities is to consider SIP Trunking which uses the existing data network to digitize communications and is flexible enough to scale up or down as needed.
How to maintain effective collaboration for workers who don’t want to be chained to a laptop
Amidst the shift to hybrid work, which has redefined employee and employer expectations, millennials are at the forefront. They, in particular, tend to split their work between onsite and remote locations, preferring the flexibility of working from home without being tethered to a laptop, according to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence survey. This preference aligns with the predominant mode of today’s communication that relies on online channels such as text, email, and chat.
Seasonal businesses such as accounting firms that staff up during tax filing season and retailers that hire more people during the holidays can take advantage of the flexibility of UCaaS to increase and decrease users as needed. These seasonal workers can download an app to their devices that connects them wherever they’re working.
On the other hand, non-seasonal businesses can also maintain effective collaboration and productivity by making sure their communication system supports mobility. They should pay close attention to the mobile application, especially its usability on the go and the inclusion of features that are on par with desktop applications. By deploying a mobile system that builds on and ideally improves the functionality of legacy phone systems, businesses can maintain effective collaboration, wherever their teams work.
Managing remote workers’ security challenges
However, remote work introduces new security vulnerabilities, so additional steps are needed to safeguard company data. Low-latency, fibre-optic networks offer dedicated bandwidth for the highest levels of internet connectivity and should include protection from distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
Businesses have never been more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These security breaches don’t just threaten your operations, they can also threaten reputations. Not only is online security necessary for day-to-day business management, but it is also vital for protecting privacy and ensuring data sovereignty.
Security solutions to consider include DDoS protection, which offers automated protection against DDoS attacks before they reach the business’s networks. Another option is a managed security solution designed to guard networks and entire IT infrastructures including cloud resources and remote devices from threats and attacks. This solution is managed by your ICT vendor and provides 24/7 monitoring and response throughout the year.
The communications systems needed for teams, regardless of location, are essential for managing the realities and expectations of today’s employees. Businesses need secure internet, voice and collaboration solutions that offer seamless access that can scale. The digital transformations that were kick-started in response to the pandemic may have bridged some gaps back then, but may not be enough now.
Acronym Solutions Inc. is a full-service information and communications technology (ICT) company that provides a range of scalable and secure Network, Voice & Collaboration, Security, Cloud and Managed IT Solutions. We support Canadian businesses, large enterprises, service providers, healthcare providers, public-sector organizations and utilities. We leverage our extensive network expertise to design and build customized, fully scalable solutions to help our customers grow their businesses and realize their full potential. With more than 20 years’ experience managing the communications system that enables Ontario’s electrical grid, Acronym is uniquely positioned to understand the mission-critical needs of any business to deliver the innovative and reliable services that respond to the changing demands of businesses, and support rapid growth and digital transformation initiatives.