If your house were on fire, would you spend half an hour picking just the right outfit to wear for the fire department?

Or would you run out the door in your pajamas?

In an emergency, we do the best we can with what we have. These temporary solutions might not be ideal—no one wants to stand in a snowbank in their skivvies—but they're okay for the moment.

COVID-19 put most businesses in a state of emergency. The sudden need to support remote employees led to improvised solutions and workarounds—ad hoc, cobbled together, but good enough for a temporary fix.

Now, that the fires are mostly out, however, it's time to upgrade these temporary solutions into more permanent ones. Remote and hybrid workforces are here to stay, and businesses need to properly support them in order to thrive.

It's Not Just a Trend: Hybrid is Here to Stay >

In a recent webinar, we asked tech expert Professor Sally Eaves and Mitel CIO Jamshid Rezaei to share their tips on modernizing communication in a scalable, sustainable way. Watch the whole webinar here and read on for some key takeaways.

Aligning Leadership and IT

Keeping the executive suite on the same page with IT is a perennial challenge, says Sally, and one that has become even more crucial during the pandemic. Alignment between the CIO, CFO and CISO will help ensure that your communication solutions are cost-effective, secure, and meet the needs of your remote and hybrid employees.

With all these stakeholders on board, your business can evaluate what communications solutions you need. Sally suggests starting with an audit of your current state, then developing a list of core requirements and building from there. "It starts with a foundational assessment," she says. "Where are you now, and where do you want to be?"

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Key Elements for a Communication Solution

The emergency, ad-hoc solutions that businesses deployed during the heat of the COVID crisis have a few things in common with each other, says Jamshid. They tend to be:

  • Free
  • Consumer grade
  • Not scalable
  • Using personal devices
  • Using multiple uncoordinated platforms

This type of IT-on-the-fly leads to increased security risks, as well as frustrating inefficiencies that drive employees to seek out their own workarounds. Ultimately that leads to "shadow IT", with technology deployed outside of the IT department's vigilance and security.

With this in mind, Sally recommends the following minimum requirements: "It should be secure, integrated, and accessible," she says. That is, employees should be able to have a seamless conversation across devices and modes of communication, from phone calls to chat applications to videoconferencing.

When you have solutions in place that are consistent and easy to use, your employees can be efficient without sacrificing security.

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Emerging and Evolving Technologies

When your business is ready to move beyond the basic requirements we discussed, Sally recommends looking at technologies that are either in early days or just over the horizon.

Automating voice interactions is one way to boost efficiency and provide customers more options for interacting with the brand. Sally points to chatbots and conversational AI as two emerging technologies that are finally ready for business use.

As technology evolves to become more user-friendly, Sally predicts that more business users will get into the nuts and bolts of customizing and creating new solutions. Low or no-code platforms with self-service options can help business leaders build the solutions they need, without having to become expert programmers.

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The Case for Adapting Your Business Communications for the Post-pandemic World

Over 50% of the world has worked from home over the last year—the most since World War II. Now, over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we're seeing that many employees have adjusted well to remote and hybrid work. According to Sally, employees are becoming more comfortable with remote work, more willing to communicate and collaborate online, and even more productive than they were at the office.

It's clear that remote and hybrid work will be a major part of the future of work. This shift in the workforce presents a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate business continuity and optimize for both employee and customer experience. With the right communication and collaboration solutions, remote and hybrid work can benefit employees and employers alike.

To hear more from Sally and Jamshid on how to upgrade your business communications, watch the full webinar >

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