By Dave Bailey
During the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises rushed to adopt cloud telephony tools, while others limped along with legacy communications technologies, leading to many bumps in the road as much of the world’s workforce went remote. Now, as we move into the new normal and embrace a hybrid workforce model of sorts, it’s a good time for business leaders to consider what this future of work model looks like for their organization and whether they have the tools to ensure its success.
According to NTT’s 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report, 87% of organizations say that the future workplace will be designed around employee enablement. Further, 89% of organizations worldwide recognize the value of employee experience (EX) to the organizational strategy and that it’s a crucial strategic differentiator. Yet, just 38% are very satisfied with their current EX capability.
In order to offer a good employee experience, the right technology is crucial. Employees need tools to work efficiently and productively anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. The pandemic couldn’t have made this any clearer.
To achieve this, I suggest taking another look at your organization’s enterprise communications strategy and the hurdles that can be overcome with the right tools.
- It starts with adoption
Cloud telephony platforms – including chat, voice, video, and employee collaboration tools – allow employees to work on the devices and in the locations they prefer. Thus, a good cloud telephony platform enhances the employee work experience by taking away impediments to doing the job the way they prefer to. But some organizations have not yet caught on.
According to NTT’s report, 89% of organizations have become more reliant on technology since the start of the pandemic. But only 45% strongly agree that employees have the necessary technology to work remotely.
The same study found that use of employers’ collaboration tools increased significantly during the pandemic, but employee use of what is often insecure, consumer-grade collaboration apps increased by nearly the same percentage. The use of employee-owned devices for work also increased significantly.
So, the first step is to adopt enterprise telephony if you haven’t already or if you’ve only committed halfway.
- Choose the right partner
When transitioning to a cloud telephony platform, consider working with an experienced partner that can help articulate your needs and transition to the cloud. Pre-engagement consulting from the right partner will help a company understand its needs, its employee personas, its network, and how all of these things will fit together.
In addition, you may want a partner to provide network services once the cloud telephony platform is launched. In some cases, this may be the same company that helped plan and set up the platform.
Companies should look for a networking services provider that offers a variety of calling plan options, cloud contact centers, and support services, etc. with the flexibility for the customer to adapt and grow as needed.
- Select the best platform
Before adopting an enterprise communications platform, create a plan that deals with the issues that need to be addressed specifically. There are several types of platforms out there, with lots of different functionality, and what works for one company many not work for another.
I would suggest looking at an enterprise-grade platform vs. the many consumer-grade services in the market that may provide limited functionality, an incomplete set of tools, or limited security.
Digital transformation and adopting an enterprise communications platform are not simply a plug and play scenario. Without careful and experienced planning, failure is a real possibility, so make a plan, stick to the plan and find a trusted partner to help.
- Halfway doesn’t count
Some organizations, in their rush to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon, have implemented an enterprise communications strategy, but only one or two pieces of the entire selected platform have been deployed. For example, a collaboration and messaging tool like Microsoft Teams was rolled out without critical elements, such as voice calling.
There are a couple of problems with this approach. First, in enterprise-grade cloud communications, all of these features are designed to work seamlessly together. If an online text chat turns into the need for a voice call, employees can hit one button and be connected by voice.
Again, one of the major benefits of cloud telephony is enhancing the employee work experience. A seamless platform provides all the communications tools your team needs from one dashboard, and without voice calling enabled, they may need to switch devices or open a new app to switch between a collaboration or chat tool and a voice call.
In addition, much of the return on investment that comes from moving to a cloud telephony platform results only when the organization also adopts each piece of the puzzle. The voice calling tools often allow companies to ditch their expensive and aging telephone equipment and move to an entirely cloud-based voice service. If companies don’t adopt the voice tools, they may be stuck with expensive voice equipment costs.
- Training is empowering
Forgoing training is a common mistake I’m seeing with companies that have only partially adopted cloud telephony tools.
For many employees, the shift to cloud telephony will be a major change and training is necessary to help them see what new tools are available and how they can best use them to work more efficiently. Tailored training ensures employee adoption, wellbeing and better security.
When companies don’t provide enough training, employees will often ignore these powerful tools, continue to use insecure, consumer-grade alternatives, or use only a small fraction of the functionality available to them.
The end result can very well mean a frustrated workforce. And the company pays for functionality that employees aren’t even using.
At the end of the day, the right technology can be the backbone of a great employee experience and, as we move into the future of work, that environment is more important than ever. For more information on connecting your people and fostering a positive hybrid work model, visit here.