It goes without saying that working from home as the new normal has certainly taken the nation, if not the world, by storm this year (2020). In true British fashion, we’ve adapted to it as best we can, finding our own ways to operate ‘business as usual’, a term I’m sure we’d all agree has never been used quite so frequently before. If world events had happened 10 or even 5 years ago, who knows how we’d be coping, but it’d probably be quite a different story.
At the time of writing, we’re in the midst of the initial three week ‘lockdown’ imposed by the UK government during the global Covid-19 virus pandemic, with the second three weeks announced. It’s a time few of us are ever likely to forget.
Technology has been a, if not the, key element to maintaining some semblance of a normal life, both personally and professionally. While at some point in the future, life shall no doubt return to that which we knew before, but not everything may go back to exactly as it was, and nor necessarily should it.
There are plenty of aspects here we could refer to, such as buying local, travelling locally, supporting our communities, reducing our carbon footprint. However, as we’re a technology company, we’re focussing on the remote working element for now.
Remote Working Takes Centre Stage
Remote working was a hot topic even before it was unceremoniously thrust upon us. It was slowly being offered as a hiring differentiator and an employment incentive, and the right to request flexible working being exercised more often. There were the underlying arguments of trust and productivity, mostly rebuffed by the response of, ‘if you don’t trust them, why do they work for you?’. Now, some will have discovered it really isn’t for them, some will think it a great occasional or semi-regular working style and others will flat out wonder why they sit on a train or in traffic for hours on end each day, missing story time and home cooked dinners.
Having the right communication tools are essential in making remote working a success. They should be straightforward enough to be used by all, but powerful enough to provide a continuous, unencumbered service to your stakeholders. Here are a couple of the resources we think are key to maintaining ‘business as usual’ remotely, and why.
Your office phone on the go
At M-Tech, we dubbed 2018 ‘the year of telephony’, merely because we spent a lot of the year migrating clients onto VoIP telephony back then. Companies were, and still are, coming to recognise the many benefits behind having their phone systems run over the internet. Aside from reductions in phone bills, VoIP technology can deliver a reduction in capital outlay on hardware, built-in unified communications facilities (chat and video conferencing tools), physical space savings, to name a few.
Perhaps the biggest draw in VoIP telephony however is the softphone. This is an application you login to on your phone, desktop, laptop or tablet, which connects you to the telephone system via the internet. You get the same functionality whether you’re in the office, a city café or your own home.
This is an invaluable communication tool for remote workers who can keep in contact with colleagues, suppliers, prospects and clients from wherever they are. There’s no new hardware required, no extra installation process and no extra space even required to house a physical phone.
If you haven’t already done so, migrating to a VoIP solution could help solidify an element of your continuity planning, adding to the future-proofing and longevity of your business.
Maintain team relationships from afar
One of the biggest negatives to remote working is undoubtedly the isolation. It’s easy for workers to feel left out, missing out on office banter, the latest goings on and the regular interaction that comes with a shared work environment, even if it’s just a smile or a quick hello. It’s therefore essential to use communication to keep employees motivated and engaged. One way of doing this is through a collaboration tool, such as Microsoft Teams (there are others of course: Slack, Workplace, Hangouts, etc). We’re huge fans of Teams here at M-Tech, using it to collaborate on most aspects of our working life.
In Teams you can separate out all aspects of the business, making certain areas private, perhaps only for the eyes of one department, or having whole company social areas where everyone can have their say equally. Teams facilitates one to one and group chats, video and voice calls and organised meetings hubs.
There’s more to communication than just speaking to one another, in a typical office setting people work together on projects. Teams enables you to collaborate in real time on live documents through Office 365. There are also many common business applications that can be integrated into the platform, keeping everything together in the one place.
If you’re already using Microsoft Office 365, you’ve likely already got access to Teams (there are a couple of plans it isn’t included with), making it fairly straight forward to get set up and get collaborating.
As a Microsoft Partner, we can help you deploy Teams throughout your business, and offer training plans to support users in adopting the platform. Want to find out more before you commit to getting started? Here are five reasons to use Microsoft Teams from our blog.
Ask us about remote set up options
At M-Tech, we can help you implement remote working solutions such as those detailed above. In many cases, we can provision and deploy these as a remote service, so we don’t even have to attend your site. We’d be more than happy to have a chat about the best communications solutions for your business, please get in touch today.