The world of work is in the midst of a crucial period of transformation. For years, we’ve experimented with everything from open offices to huddle rooms in an attempt to find the best environment for productivity, efficiency, and cost-savings in the business landscape. Yet it wasn’t until the pandemic that most businesses discovered what teams really wanted from the workplace.
When 2020 introduced the COVID-19 pandemic to the working world, it turned everything we knew upside down. Companies were forced to send their employees home to avoid the spread of infection. While organizations bogged down in legacy technology were left waiting for offices to re-open, many more digitized, innovative brands began to discover the benefits of flexible, remote work.
For a while, it seemed remote working would be the future of the modern office, but as lockdowns dragged on, business leaders discovered the right workplace needed a blend of both in-office and remote functionality. The era of hybrid work has arrived.
The Future is in Hybrid Work
Though many business leaders had previously struggled with the idea of running a “remote workforce” in the past, the pandemic acted as a global experiment into the true benefits of flexible working. We discovered people could be just as, if not more productive at home, or outside of the office. However, we also learned that not every role was conducive to constant remote work.
Microsoft, one of the leading innovators in hybrid workplace technology (like Microsoft Teams), discovered that while 75% of employees wanted flexible work to continue post-pandemic, another 65% wanted more in-person time with their teams.
Hybrid work is widely regarded the “new normal” for the modern workforce. The perfect blend of in-office interactions and remote productivity, hybrid work paves the way to new opportunities for businesses from all backgrounds. Team members can leverage the benefits of the traditional office environment for certain tasks and work remotely for others.
A hybrid workplace also allows companies to cater for different kinds of employees – from the professionals who thrive on face-to-face interactions, from those who need isolation to focus. Benefits include:
- Reduced costs: Hybrid work allows for fewer office overheads and travel costs. Teams can even reduce their impact on the environment.
- Greater flexibility: With hybrid workplaces, companies can cater to different employee needs, and build more flexible workforces, with talent from around the globe.
- Lower turnover: As employees demand more flexible and hybrid work environments, the businesses unable to offer these opportunities risk losing staff.
- Improved productivity: When employees can work in the environment best-suited to their needs for each task, they deliver better results.
Why UCaaS is Key to Hybrid Work
Over half of all employees are now set to shift to a hybrid work model. However, to set the stage for this new future, companies need to provide employees with access to the right tools.
For years, we’ve known that communication is the key to running a successful business. When teams can collaborate, connect, and interact in a shared environment, they can accomplish more. As a result, Unified Communications seems to be the perfect foundation to hybrid working strategies.
With Unified Communications as a Service, companies can provide their employees with access to the same essential tools they need to connect, communicate, and collaborate no matter where they are. The synergy offered by UCaaS allows teams to replace a physical office environment as the central location for work, with a flexible, digital landscape.
Currently, UCaaS technology is growing at a faster pace than ever before, thanks in part to the pandemic. The industry is set to hit a value of $69.93 billion by the end of 2028, and valuations continue to grow.
Through unified communications, companies can provide their employees with access to an inherently flexible, scalable platform for critical interactions. Workers can access the same unified tools wherever they are, on a host of devices. What’s more, team leaders can keep track of their employees more effectively, building end-to-end views of crucial business processes.
The following features make UCaaS essential to the future of hybrid work.
- Flexible consistency
UCaaS is unified communications technology, delivered as a service. Employees can access all the functionality they need to make calls, route conversations and record discussions through the cloud. Because the technology is cloud-first, it allows everyone on a team to access the same exact features and experiences, regardless of their choice of device, or location.
In a world of hybrid work, it’s important for your remote staff members not to feel like “second hand citizens” when they’re not in the office. With UCaaS, you can make sure everyone has the same consistent access to critical tools, so everyone stays on the same page.
What’s more, because your employees are accessing the same tools both inside and outside of the office, there’s no need for them to deal with the headache of transitioning between tools depending on where their schedule takes them from one day to the next.
- Improved collaboration
As more than 50% of employees expect to split their time between the office and other locations, vendors in the UCaaS landscape have been working hard to transform their platforms into new “digital workplaces” for teams. For many, this means implementing collaboration tools into the UCaaS environment, so staff can message each other, host video conferences, and share files, without having to switch between apps.
The right UCaaS environment can provide your team members with a central space where they can connect with their colleagues, find out which staff members are available in an instance, and access crucial knowledgebase resources. Better collaboration and communication between teams, with everything from file and screen sharing to calendar syncing, improves overall staff productivity.
Not only do your employees perform more effectively in a UCaaS environment, but they can also maintain their emotional connections to their colleagues, improving company culture.
- Better business insights
A hybrid workplace naturally creates gaps between your employees. You’ll have certain people working in the office, and others operating from the field, or at home, depending on their specific roles and their needs. Without UCaaS, companies would need to track the behaviors of their employees through multiple tools, from project management apps, to time tracking services.
Ultimately, the more tools you need to use to track your team members the more chances you have for knowledge silos and data gaps. A UCaaS environment consolidates teams into a single environment, where it’s easier to get an idea of what happens behind the scenes each day.
Business managers and leaders can track important metrics within the UCaaS ecosystem, with dashboards for real-time reporting and historical analytics. Collecting data in this end-to-end environment will make it easier to identify potential bottlenecks in your company or problems which could be damaging team efficiency.
- Greater security and privacy
One of the biggest concerns facing many companies in the transition to hybrid work, is dealing with the potential dangers of remote access points and distributed employees. A cloud environment with multiple people connecting from various locations can lead to numerous points of failure in a company’s security and privacy strategy.
UCaaS solutions can solve many of the problems companies have with ensuring they remain compliant in a digitally distributed world. With one environment to keep track of all your communications, it’s much easier to pinpoint potential lapses in security. You can also implement additional tools for security with the help of the right vendors, from multi-factor authentication to encryption.
UCaaS solutions offer everything from Session-Border controllers to integrations with VPNs and high-quality access controls, to ensure hybrid work doesn’t have to come at the expense of security.
- Business Continuity
During the pandemic, many companies discovered that failing to be connected in the cloud meant failing to be prepared for anything. When something as simple as not being able to visit a specific office location can bring your whole business to a standstill, investing in UCaaS makes a lot of sense.
No matter what the hybrid environment might look like for your business, investing in UCaaS is a way to ensure your teams can continue to operate from anywhere, no matter what challenges your company might face. What’s more, with UCaaS, you have the freedom to add new features and functionality to your communication stack whenever you choose.
Only the cloud offers the agility and flexibility businesses need to survive in a world as changeable and unpredictable as ours.
UCaaS and Hybrid Work: Better Together
For years, UCaaS technology has been earning the attention of companies of all sizes for its fantastic promises of cost savings, better efficiency, and scalability. However, since the pandemic, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of companies shifting to a UCaaS landscape.
As hybrid continues to emerge as the future of work, UCaaS technology will be the key to staying one step ahead of the competition and protecting yourself from anything the future might bring.