A positive company culture is essential for reaching high levels of productivity and achieving successful business outcomes, experts say. And yet, as the workplace changes, it’s ever more challenging to build an engaging work environment. As a manager and business owner, you know jobs aren’t just 9 to 5 anymore, for you or your employees. Nor are roles limited by location. More and more of your workers do their jobs remotely today, whether by choice or necessity.

So how can today’s small and medium-sized business owner create a positive company culture — especially in a highly competitive marketplace – with fewer resources than big organizations?

Part of the answer lies in cloud-based technologies. Hosted phone systems, like MiCloud Connect, foster collaboration, productivity and a positive work environment. Collaborative workspaces and mobile communications bring your team together, no matter where everyone’s working.

Hosted phone systems provide flexibility

Gallup identified the growing trend of remote work in its most recent State of the American Workplace Report. The researcher found that between 2012 and 2016, the number of remote workers rose to 43 percent, from 39 percent – almost half the workforce! Add to this contract and gig workers, and you’ve got a very fluid dynamic.

In fact, Gallup reported that 29 percent of all U.S. workers have some kind of alternative work arrangement (such as remote working or flexible work hours) in their primary job and over a third (36 percent) participate in the gig economy. No wonder pulling together your team can feel a little like herding cats.

Flexibility increases retention and reduces costs

Today’s workers see flexibility as an essential ingredient of a positive organizational culture, so giving them flexibility in how and when they work can increase retention, Gallup discovered. When asked what would motivate them to switch jobs, over half of employees (51 percent) said they’d move for a position that provided flextime. Over a third (37 percent) would switch jobs for the ability to work remotely.

Flexible work arrangements aren’t just about pleasing employees. They can offer companies significant cost savings, too. When you don’t need a desk for every employee, for instance, you don’t need to lease as much physical space. With a cloud-based communications system, you also save money on hardware and software upgrades. Your remote workers can connect to the team via any device, like their own mobile or laptop. And software is kept current by the vendor, so you don’t have to worry about updates.

But because of these changing work arrangements, team members today communicate more through email, instant messaging and conference calls, all of which have weaknesses. Important information gets lost in a thread of emails. Files aren’t easily accessible to all team members. Redundant or confusing technologies make conference calling a major headache. A hosted phone system is one way to help employees working virtually communicate easily with colleagues in the office, as well as with clients.

A culture of collaboration

In order to get the most productivity and employee engagement from today’s workforce, leaders need to foster a collaborative culture. Here are some tips.

  1. Provide effective collaboration technology. A hosted phone system enables team members to easily communicate and share essential information. For example, they can share documents in a central location that everyone can access – when they’re off-site. They can schedule and initiate audio and video conference calls at a click of a button, using mobile-first technology so remote team members can easily join in. And, they can share their screen during calls so everyone is literally on the same page.

  2. Model the behavior you want to see. To create a collaborative environment that brings out the best in all your workers, you need to model the open, supportive behavior you want to see in your team. Be receptive to different ideas and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute. Perhaps it shouldn’t need to be said, but be sure to use the collaboration technology yourself. Show them how it can support productive communications.

  3. Make time for face time. Even though many employees like working virtually, good managers know that face-to-face interaction is always important. Daily or weekly video calls, one-on-ones and off-site team meetings keep the communication channels open. Gallup found that optimal engagement occurs when workers spend three to four days working off-site and one to two days in the office with colleagues.

  4. Cut down on meeting time. Workers today often complain of too many meetings, which leaves them without enough time to get their work done. A team leader who really wants to create a positive, collaborative culture knows meetings aren’t always the best way to achieve results. With a hosted phone system, you can actually cut down on meeting time. Using a central shared platform on the cloud, team members can track progress, assign tasks, communicate asynchronously through messaging and email, initiate calls and share documents, all within a single application. No matter where they are geographically or in which time zone, no matter the device they’re using, colleagues can communicate more effectively with the right communications technology.

How to choose a hosted phone system

Technology can be fun. It can also be maddening. Too often companies get lured in by the latest free app, then by the next one and the next one. Before you know it, your layers of technology are making work harder, not easier.

When choosing communications technology to foster a collaborative culture, choose a system that is:

  • Simple. Choose a one-step, cloud-based communications solution like MiCloud Connect that provides intuitive, easy-to-use tools.
  • Mobile-first. Workers need to connect no matter the device or location. That means many employees will communicate via mobile – even if they’re in the office. Choose a solution that works seamlessly on any device.
  • Robust. Your employees might share a common corporate culture, but everyone has their own way of getting things done. Some teams work best with a shared workspace, while others are more productive during scheduled video conferences. With a hosted phone system, you can accommodate every style and need.
  • Flexible. Be sure your communications vendor offers a variety of pricing options that fit your company’s budget.

A hosted phone system like MiCloud Connect can provide the tools your growing company needs to create a positive and healthy culture while still making the best use of your limited resources.

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