Working from home isn’t the same as collaborating from home

True remote collaboration requires robust, future-proof, business-grade collaboration tools.

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Working remotely has become the new normal. In fact, an estimated 42 percent of U.S. employees are now working remotely since the pandemic. And while some companies see remote work as a temporary measure, forward-thinking businesses see it as a long-term solution with significant benefits.

Improved productivity

Several studies have found that employees working from home are more productive because of the flexible work environment it enables. Employee productivity software vendor Prodoscore found a 47 percent increase in overall worker productivity in March and April, compared to a year earlier, as employees began working from home and eliminating time-consuming in-person meetings.

In addition to productivity increases, companies can save money on office real estate by allowing more remote work, and employees can cut their commute times, saving them both money and time, not to mention the environmental benefits from fewer cars on the road.

Working vs. collaborating

Still, remote working has an image problem. Many associate working from home with a lack of focus, productivity, and accountability. But it doesn’t have to be that way – in fact, it shouldn’t be that way. There’s a difference between working from home and collaborating from home.

Working from home implies a lone employee, completing a set of solitary tasks individually. Collaborating from home is a team-based approach, with employees working together to move forward business goals. Collaborating from home mimics the in-office experience, including joint projects, brain-storming meetings, break-room conversations, and one-on-one synch ups – virtually.

To enable collaboration from home, companies need the right technology and collaboration platforms, including voice communication, video meeting, and the ability to easily share documents and other work products.

In recent years, a range of new collaboration tools have brought a more team-oriented approach to remote work. Many companies have tried piecing together remote work systems to deal with social distancing guidelines during the pandemic; in many cases, they have seen less than optimal results. Remote work tools that are “good enough for now” often cost companies more money – and create more headaches ­– in the long run. Good enough often doesn’t include the features, the scalability, and the security that most companies need.

For example, many consumer-grade collaboration tools don’t have the built-in security that businesses require. This year, as many people working from home turned to video-conferencing tools, there was an explosion of reports about uninvited guests hopping onto video calls. In some cases, employees working remotely have adopted unapproved collaboration tools, creating a so-called “shadow IT” infrastructure that company IT teams aren’t equipped to deal with.

Business-grade collaboration tools

To deal with these issues and enable the best remote environment possible, companies should invest in robust, future-proof employee collaboration tools, as remote work is likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

A good collaborating-from-home approach can encompass several technology pieces, including a seamless video conferencing system and a cloud-based calling system that connects a company’s teams, wherever they are. Using modern collaboration tools and expert service providers to integrate those tools, companies can quickly implement what they need now and lay the foundation for a collaborative, virtual working environment.

Companies looking to improve their remote collaboration environments should ensure any new technologies they’re considering easily integrate with existing tools like Cisco Webex. New tools should include clear video conferencing and chat capabilities to enable high-quality connection and engagement and seamless file sharing and collaboration to eliminate email overload.

While collaboration tools like file sharing, live chat, and video conferencing get a lot of attention, a key piece of a remote work system – often called unified communications – is fully featured, cloud-based communications, including a cloud-based calling service. Traditional, on-premise phone systems had their time and place, but they tend to tether employees to a physical office.

An outdated, on-premise communication system can’t handle the needs of remote workers. Communications cannot stop because the physical office is closed, and distributing employees’ personal mobile phone numbers to customers isn’t a good solution.

Instead, modern businesses have moved their communication tools to the cloud for both flexibility and reliability. Business calls can be routed to employee mobile or home phones, without giving out their private numbers. Cloud communications keep remote teams seamlessly connected with suppliers, partners, and clients. Best of all, an integrated cloud solution scales with the needs and growth of the companies using it.

Finding the right fit With so many companies currently vying for attention with similar tools and offerings, how do companies find a cloud communication solution to fit their unique needs? In many cases, an experienced services provider can help companies choose the best communications tools. Workplace communications experts can deliver an agile and flexible cloud communication solution that grows with companies and enables employees to communicate anytime, from anywhere. Cloud communications solutions offer employees better collaboration experiences, real connections, and clear communication pathways, which will all be in demand as the modern workplace continues to evolve. Businesses that transition from a working-from-home model to a collaborating-from-home model will be ready for the future of work and be in the best position to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Learn more about Cloud Communications from NTT and visit hello.global.ntt for more information.

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