Remote Workforce Must Be Embraced
Modern technology has afforded people a lot of conveniences. Thanks to the cloud, people have access to music, email and anything else online from wherever they can get an Internet connection. But these luxuries are not just changing the way people live their personal lives - it is also altering the way that they work.
The cloud makes it possible to have an office presence from anywhere in the world. Not only has it revolutionized the way that data is accessed and manipulated, but it has revolutionized the delivery of communication channels. Email, texting and voice have entered the same plane thanks to smartphones and tablets, but having them within the same application fosters a new level of productivity.
This has had a major effect on the culture of the working world. Being able to connect with colleagues, clients and others without having to sit at the same desk every day is leading employees to see decreasing worth in the traditional 9-5 structure. Whether opting to work from home or to set less rigid hours, enterprise staff members are starting to require more autonomy over their schedules.
"Prior to Internet communications, places of business had standard working hours, usually 9-5," wrote TMCnet contributor Michelle Amodio. "The once normal eight-hour work day has morphed into an 'always on, always ready' day, so much that if businesses haven't gotten on board with modern communications, they're not likely to stay relevant to compete."
With this in mind, companies need to be pursuing unified communication solutions in the cloud. It is possible and even productive to give talented team members the freedom to manage themselves a little more independently, but it is going to take cloud UC in order to effectively enable collaboration.
The Difference Between Communication And Collaboration
There needs to be an understanding of what constitutes effective communications in modern times. While it may have been previously acceptable to just have every possible channel at one's disposal, mobility and the streamlined interfaces of touchscreen devices have raised expectations across the board. People want to work outside of the office, but they require the assets that will prevent them from missing a beat when doing so.
Not only do voice, text, email and even social media have to be present on the same device, but they have to be available within the same piece of software - not to mention from anywhere an employee might happen to be. This is the way that people are increasingly getting used to communicating, and attempts to ignore progress can be viewed as frustrating by team members and lead them to pursue their own solutions. This can be negative for two major reasons: Consumer-grade apps are often insecure or riddled with malware, and the office lacks a cohesive collaboration experience. The latter of these two issues is brought on by the likelihood that not everyone will be leveraging the same platforms.
The difference between communication and true collaboration lies in how channels work together. Speaking with someone over video chat and being able to send them text-based links to clarify a point is a perfect example of collaboration. Another might come in the form of voicemail messages being automatically transcribed into emails for the recipient's convenience. These are the ways that employees are expecting their cloud communications applications to function, and continued successes on this front from other organizations are fueling a drastic re-examination of the 9-5 workday.
Traditional Working Structures Challenged
Unified communications is undoubtedly a disruptive technology. That phrase may carry negative connotations to some, but it is actually an indication of change - in this instance, positively so. Cloud UC is helping to negate the need for centralized offices and also to create a more satisfied workforce.
"Mobile UC means workplace flexibility," Amodio stated. "Research suggests that workers without workplace flexibility would be willing to make substantial trade-offs to have access to telecommuting and/or flex hour programs; they were more satisfied and productive in the workplace when they have flexibility and control."
As a younger set of employees enter companies, they are doing so with a keen eye for technology. Top millennial talent expects a greater balance between their personal and professional lives that is fueled by cloud-based assets. Legacy systems that have not been adapted or replaced are considered archaic by today's standards, and can lead certain staffers to feel out of place in the office.
But with all that being said, it is also important to consider the workers who feel most comfortable with what they know. Some team members prefer 9-5 desk life and don't feel engaged at home. But what's great about unified communications is that it can be adapted to fit varying needs. With a desktop-based interface or even a docking station for smartphones that provides handset functionality, all sorts of productivity styles can be accounted for and supported.
9-5 Workday On Its Way Out
As time moves forward, long-standing work traditions are dying out. New technology is allowing workers to have more say in when and where they work, which can create greater productivity and job satisfaction. Things are changing significantly, and having a unified communications system that is accessible from the cloud is becoming critical to staying relevant. More organizations are realizing every day that they need to have assets that will make them attractive to high-performing applicants. With a younger generation filling the workplace and mobility continuing to be in high demand, cloud UC will be essential as historic office practices adapt to the present day.