Guest blog from Firstcom’s Head of Marketing, Julie Cox. Claim your free trial of Firstcom’s Universe today.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations saw remote working as a perk for their employees, or a contingency if staff couldn’t physically get into the office due to one reason or another. But, when COVID-19 forced employers to send their teams home, we witnessed a sudden global shift in the collective attitude towards remote working as employers swiftly began to realise that remote working can and does work.

Any organisation that still hasn’t enabled a remote workforce is missing out on:

  • Cost savings – Flexible or remote working can allow you to reduce your office space and your capital expenditure.
  • Employee satisfaction – Employees who enjoy flexibility within their working life tend to report higher job satisfaction. This in turn leads to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and higher staff retention.
  • A wider reach – Traditional models can be limiting in terms of finding the best person for the job. Giving staff the ability to work from anywhere gives you access to non-local talent or those who need to work from home for personal reasons.
  • Business continuity and responsiveness – If you already have a well- developed work from home strategy then your business will be able to continue as normal if staff can’t get to the office for any reason.

Unfortunately, adopting a remote working strategy does not come without challenges. Here are a few of the most common obstacles, and how to address them:

  • Feeling isolated and disconnected from organisational culture – Whilst many employees flourish without the distractions of the office, others find the lack of interaction with the wider team difficult. Giving your remote workers easy access to video conferencing technology and holding regular online team meetings will go a long way towards reinforcing company culture.
  • Disjointed communications – Having to use a mobile phone with no access to a company phone directory, and not being able to see colleagues’ availability, are examples of how an outdated communications system can make working from home less efficient than it need be. Unifying your communications on one platform does away with disparate tools and also gives you collaboration features like messaging, presence and video and audio conferencing.
  • Concerns about productivity – Some managers worry about employees taking advantage of a flexible work situation or have concerns that there are too many distractions at home. For home working to be successful there needs to be an element of trust; often employees who are given a degree of autonomy will go the extra mile as they are happier in their job. Telephony features like presence, wall display and call reporting are useful tools when it comes to facilitating homeworking for contact centre teams.

Conclusion

Remote working is likely to continue beyond the coronavirus pandemic. In order for it to work effectively, it requires a shift in company policies, culture and last but not least – technology. Unified communications enable organisations to integrate all the ways they communicate meaning staff can stay in touch seamlessly wherever they are.

If your organisation still hasn’t embraced unified communications, read all about Firstcom’s Universe here, and sign up for a free three-month trial to discover what you’re missing.