It has become clear in recent years that flexible working has become an expectation. Despite this fact, a significant proportion of the workforce were not being given the option to work flexibly and the recent coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is highlighting a more urgent reason why remote working communication and collaboration tools need to be adopted on a companywide scale.
In the last few days alone, we’ve seen widespread closures of shops, salons and eateries, social distancing being common practice and a plea to ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ in a bid to control the outbreak. In the absence of their local pub, bar or restaurant, people are turning to technology to help combat cravings for social gatherings. Searches for livestreaming app ‘Houseparty’ increased by 300 per cent and the app rose from 304 in the Apple Store to number 2.
As we begin to adapt to ‘the new normal’, it’s important not to become complacent. What is the impact long-term remote working could have on your business? Is your remote technology set up sustainable for the long-term, especially if you usually have desk based call centre agents? Customers still expect to be able to contact and engage with an organisation they are buying or consuming services from in the same way they always did - perhaps even more so now, whether for a sense of normality or to make sure the service or goods paid for are still accessible.
Despite the clear challenges and negative media, there is at least one element we can all take control of – risk mitigation. Here’s a few points to consider for your risk mitigation strategy.
Use of Unified Communications
One of the most significant effects of an office closure without a remote set up is the inability for customers to get in contact; be it for a sales enquiry, or to log an issue. The most effective way to combat this is with the use of Unified Communications; technology which allows agents to pick up calls from their desk-phone through a mobile or laptop softphone application. This means in the event of your customer service or sales staff being forced to work from home, they still can successfully answer calls being routed to their desk-phone. In turn this means increased customer satisfaction (being able to talk to an advisor quickly), increased sales (less sales enquiries going unanswered), & ultimately increased revenue.
Use of Collaboration Software
Having employees operating from disparate locations makes it more difficult for them to effectively communicate between one another. Productivity is therefore likely to drop dramatically as employees struggle to effectively collaborate with one another. Use of collaboration software such as Mitel’s MiCollab and MiTeam tool allows employees to use instant messaging, voice & video chat, have group conversations, and file share through secure software, from any location on any supported device.
Use of Cloud Storage
Another vital aspect of a successful remote working strategy is the use of cloud storage across the business. When files are held in a central location such as a laptop or on-site server, it creates data loss and security risks. Imagine an important customer document containing sensitive data is left vulnerable after an employee’s laptop is lost or stolen? Cloud storage allows every file in your employee’s systems to be backed up to a secure drive, safe from damage or loss and remotely wiped if necessary. Additionally, most cloud services offer version history in case any accidental edits are made to important documents.
Beyond a pandemic, there are many scenarios that can lead to temporary business closure, weather being one. Two years ago, Onecom’s invoked the business continuity plan, closing the office for a week due to ‘danger to life’ warnings from the Met Office. Thanks to Unified Communications, not only was every member of staff able to perform their duties from home, but we continued to meet every operational metric during the period of homeworking.
Free of Charge Remote Worker Solutions
If you too are watching the news daily wondering, what next and deliberating whether your business has left it too late to act - our message to you is not to worry (as difficult as that might be). Onecom have a range of rapid deploy remote working solutions to suit different scales and budgets of business from under 10 users to 5,000+ without compromising on quality.
The question of ‘what would you do if staff were mandated to work from home’ has passed. Now ask yourself, what can I do in the short term to prepare my teams, and support my customers for the long-haul?