Flexible working, telecommuting or remote working is here to stay. Whatever name you give it, the demand for flexible working technologies to enable teleworking has greatly increased due to recent world events. Research from O2’s enterprise business unit suggests that the UAE’s eyes have been opened up to the feasibility and benefits of working from home. Employees want the temporary measures to remain in place, enabling remote workers post coronavirus.
Agile working and Unified Communications are at the heart of this shift towards enabling remote working. Many business owners support home working or working away from the office at multiple locations.
The benefits of Flexible or Remote Working
The benefits of this are numerous. The ability to communicate effectively with colleagues via video, voice and data, irrespective of the device, be it in the office or remotely, has become a major contributor in improving employee and employer efficiency and productivity. Remote working from home also has a positive impact on the environment around us, in numerous ways, including decreasing fuel consumption, and reduced commute times. Collaboration online and remote file sharing reduces the need to print documents further, reducing the carbon footprint. The requirement for large amounts of office floor space also reduces with an effective teleworker strategy in place.
Not too long ago staff mobility in the workforce was little more than a pipe dream, inhibiting flexible working, but over the last decade mobile phone technology, tablets and desktop technologies have come a long way very quickly. Never before has it been easier for remote workers to work away from the office. Remote cloud based phone systems allow businesses to operate smoothly and with minimal disruption when moving your employees to remote working & home working locations. Making and receiving calls seamlessly on an app on a laptop or PC, on a tablet or on a mobile phone is the way of unified communications. Simply turn on the device and the remote worker is in their ‘telecommuting office’, wherever they are.
The role of Unified Communications in Flexible Working
To enable flexible working business mobiles, office phone systems, smartphone apps, WIFI handsets, DECT phones, bluetooth headsets, video conferencing applications must all talk to each other, enabling a seamless unified communications solution. This agile smart officeenvironment must encompass voice, email, video and instant messaging to deliver for flexible workers and means that the work location doesn’t matter anymore.
To take advantage of your unified communications system capabilities, all your remote employees need is a robust internet connection. Then it’s as if they’re working in the next room, but with all the benefits!
High levels of collaboration are achieved for telecommuters or remote workers across a widely dispersed workforce. The right UC platform allows your remote working employees to connect, share, and work together on ideas and projects with the same streamlined interface resulting in key benefits:
- Improved productivity
- Reduction of costs
- Increased mobility
- Better work life balance
- A greener environment
Key considerations to deploy a flexible remote worker strategy
Leaving aside the physical questions around adequate space, and modifications to home environments some of the key technical questions that need to be addressed are around broadband access to, then distribution within the home, along with the choice of VOIP phone system, and desktop & mobile phone apps.
As remote working becomes more popular, the onus may be on the employee to ensure there is adequate internet speed and bandwidth throughput. Poor broadband performance can affect call and video quality, so for customer facing teleworker roles, this is best addressed as a priority.
Business broadband offers some key benefits over residential, such as better contention ratios, static IP addresses and crucially better fault resolution times.
To distribute broadband to the new home office or ‘man/woman cave’ it might be worth looking at Powerline devices to distribute broadband easily to the more remote parts of the home.
Having a quality reliable WiFi signal at home has become more critical. The use of WiFi extenders or repeaters will ‘copy’ the existing signal and rebroadcast it in the new location. Meshed networks scatter several Access Point nodes around the premises providing a seamless network throughout.
If using residential broadband the supplied routers used for this can and do have something called SIP ALG enabled, which can cause all sorts of challenges with VOIP phones and desktop applications.
4G/5G Routers may provide alternatives now to copper or fibre broadband connections. Gulaga offers a wide selection of Data SIM packages and routers to quickly set up home or remote working environments.
Talk with Gulaga Networks to understand the best alternatives to ensure consistent operation of the key underlying broadband service to support the unified communications remote worker solution.
Adopt a Unified Communications strategy
It is important that your business can communicate and collaborate anytime, anywhere and on any device. With a Unified Communications strategy you can ensure that your remote workforce can communicate effectively. Whether they’re working from home, from a restaurant or from the client’s offices, your staff can still enjoy a unified experience thanks to our unified communications and collaboration business telecoms solutions.
Mobile phones, previously the device of choice for the majority of remote and home workers, have previously lacked key features outside the office phone system environment. Features which were taken for granted by desk based colleagues such as call groups, company phone directories, conferencing, call queues, group voicemail, call recording and more were not available.
With our Unified Communications solutions for remote working, the team can easily communicate and collaborate on projects instantly, with all the efficiency of being in the office. Our smart, cloud-based voice, video and messaging tools can help your team to serve clients anytime and anywhere, seamlessly from a mobile app, a desktop environment or a VoIP phone.
So, whether you are office based, remote working centric, have mobile telecommuters or a combination of all three, Gulaga will make sure that you are fully equipped to do business whatever the location.
A crisis does not always have to be a global disaster or pandemic. Weather conditions can and do impact businesses. Fires, floods or snowstorms can easily disrupt the office or make it impossible for employees to access in order to work from their desk.
Businesses need to be able to recover or reconfigure services in near real time to avert such a crisis. At the same time, minimising the impact and disruption of service to clients.
VoIP phone services and remote working solutions enable companies to do exactly that. They don’t have to be physically in the office to work. Very easily employees can go home or into temporary office locations and continue working with their phones, mobiles and laptops. Critically phones will still work and customers can still reach the business through this crucial time.
With most IP phone systems call routing decisions are made based on dialled digits, time of day, and network utilisation etc. Hosted phone systems incorporate features designed to minimise business disruption and to provide disaster recovery and business continuity. Unlike traditional PBX office phone systems, Hosted IP phone systems can act automatically should a circuit go down or be they can be managed remotely.
Some key functions that are used to plan for business continuity or disaster recovery are:
- Call Divert
- Time of Day routing
- Call Queuing
- Auto Attendant services
- Hunt Groups
- Enhanced voicemail with email & transcription
- Mobile app to make and receive calls with your business number
- Easy addition of new DDI numbers or Extensions
- Call Notify
Having a disaster recovery plan is vital for any business. Many fail to consider their phone set up and how they will remain connected to their customers, suppliers and staff in emergencies. Gulaga has the expertise and experience to help you develop a disaster recovery plan for your phone system to keep you connected to ensure remote working.
Move to a VoIP system
Some business owners and managers fear that flexible working will spell disaster for their businesses. They may be afraid that employees will not be as productive away from their desks. Sometimes, businesses are just curious and have questions about remote working:
- Do we have the right technology and equipment?
- Can we afford to buy expensive new systems?
- Will it change the way everyone works?
In many cases, all that is required is a cloud based VoIP phone service. Many roles only need a phone for the worker to do their jobs. A VoIP phone service can improve internal communications for small businesses in many ways.
Working away from the office employees have the full range of internal office phone system facilities at their fingertips. They can answer incoming calls in their hunt group or call queue, hold and transfer and direct calls to and from other team members. They can present the main office number when calling out and enjoy all the other facilities and features their office based colleagues use. All this from a VoIP phone at home, or a laptop with a USB or Bluetooth headset, or just by using their standard mobile device with the VOIP app. Simply download the soft phone or desktop app on the device of your choice and off you go.
Employers worry that employees will not be so productive at home. Allowing flexible working does not mean losing the ability to monitor staff. A VoIP service provides a portal to collect call records and analyse call log data and patterns.
Call reporting or management supports you in managing your business. These features help to analyse call patterns, identify bottlenecks, monitor the time taken to answer calls, or to track the number of abandoned calls. Analysis tools highlight weaknesses and opportunities in your organisational set up, and form the basis to then manage your remote resources more effectively.
A VoIP phone service can also broaden your talent pool. Having the ability to deploy employees irrespective of geography, removes the previous limitation of only recruiting talented people in a specific geography.
Blend incoming call distribution to departments made up of home workers, office workers, telecommuters all in the same group. For guidance with managing your company numbers and routing plans, give Gulaga a call.
Traditional telephony is not adequate for Unified Communication solutions demanded by the shift away from office working. Today’s workforce, particularly the flexible workers demand a more user friendly collaborative platform that enhances employee and customer experiences.
Horizon Collaborate drives employee productivity and transforms how swiftly and effectively information is shared, fulfilling customer demands as well as increasing employee satisfaction and efficiency.
- Operate from any device, anywhere, anytime.
- Enhance decision making and efficiency with tools that permit users to find the right person in an instant.
- Leverage media services such as instant messaging, voice, video, desktop/application sharing and more, all from within Horizon Collaborate.
- Enable users to access business communications and collaboration services from any device – whether Windows, MAC, Android and iOS – no matter where they are.
- Allow staff to benefit from flexible working practises – whether hot-desking or mobile/home working – to boost employee satisfaction and productivity rates.
- An instant fully managed conferencing space for voice, video and sharing for quick multi-party collaboration.
- Presence functionality which shows an always-on personal status that helps define the best way to communicate with colleagues.
- Video Calling to create a stronger collaborative experience using visual communication from mobile or desktop app.
- Play a Voicemail message from your desktop, save it or forward a copy to your entire team
- Never miss a call with One Number Anywhere and Sequential Ringing
- Keep track of important calls with Call Notify by Email
- Use Call Recording for audit trails, compliance or training purposes
Collaborative software tools and Unified Communications systems are driving today’s most efficient and successful businesses in the new world of flexible and remote working.
Talk Teams Direct Routing
Talk Teams enables remote and flexible working by delivering PSTN voice services and advanced call management features via a Microsoft Teams client. This is possible from any location across any device transforming Microsoft Teams into a full video, voice and data collaborative solution, ensuring you never miss a call. This aligned collaboration and communication set up enables a seamless business approach no matter where you are be it home, office or on the road.
Talk Teams Direct Routing provides a PSTN solution for the Microsoft Teams Phone System application. Enabling users to make and receive UAE and international calls to and from non Teams users, without requiring a hosted IP telephony system or PBX. It offers a cost-effective and much more feature rich alternative to Microsoft’s own Calling Plan.
- Cost-effective calling for the Microsoft Teams Phone System
- Feature-rich solution for users making Teams their integrated phone system with PSTN calling
- Automated provisioning – no need for experienced accredited Microsoft engineers
- Scalable, from one up to tens of thousands of sessions
- Complete unified communications on one platform
- Inclusive call recording unlike other less feature rich products
- Unlimited in-country local call packages in 30 countries
- Microsoft approved solution
- Comprehensive management portal
- Numbers available in 167 countries and every UAE area code
- Standard and freephone numbers available
- International SIP trunks and numbers available
Contact Gulaga to go through the benefits of this Talk Teams approach both in terms of UAE suitability and cost, as a viable Direct Routing solution.