The way we work will change, has changed and is changing. Gone are the days of the universal archetypal office worker with their traditional surroundings, the office, the desktop PC and the desk phone. These things won’t disappear but their use in the traditional manner may decrease. The advent of cloud communication and collaboration platforms is enabling a new age.
As one of the UK’s leading cloud communication providers, VanillaIP, are at the forefront of the future of work frontier. Iain Sinnott, Sales Director at VanillaIP, examines the logistical and ideological changes required for organisation to fully embrace the future and reap the potential rewards.
Firstly we need to outline what the future of work might look like. Cloud communication and business platforms enable remote and flexible working for users, whether that’s the ability to work from home, a café or Saigon. As well as location changes, the traditional working contract might alter with the standard 9 to 5 no longer the default setting. Rather than just providing and added convenience for the workforce these changes can enable substantial financial and operational benefits for all organisations.
“The office, the place of work was based on the need to communicate and the only means of communicating, in general terms, was to be in the same place. So an organisation would corral its team together in an office, people who wished to do business with them with would visit their office and vice versa – We were corralling people together so they could collaborate.”
“The idea of collaboration is not new.”
Manageability and Measurement is Critical
If I can’t see my staff how can I be sure they are working? This represents an old-fashioned viewpoint from management but it’s still a valid question throughout industry. The technology industries and large enterprises are the first to adopt new working practices, empowered by their knowledge or resources, able to fully appreciate their efficacy. In midsize and SME markets flexible and remote working principles can seem more daunting.
“It’s a fear that their staff will abuse the privilege of not being in the office, and do less work. There are two motivators in life, the fear of loss and the desire for gain.”
How can you overcome this fear of loss? Iain explains that it is down to technology providers to reassure management that the productivity gains enabled by flexible remote working practices outweigh the potential risks.
“If you say I will get this job done twice as fast by being in the isolation of my home, they will jump at it.”
VanillaIP start this process of reassurance with measurement and management tools. Working on the premise that a user is actively using telephony, tools like call recording and reporting would be vital. This allows management to see and hear all of the activity from a user, during any given day, ensuring the standard and volume of work meets or exceeds that of an equivalent day in the office. This principle applies to most employee roles, excluding those that require specific location attendance such as a bus driver. As long as the usual key performance indicators (KPIs) can be monitored and their quality ensured, then there is no reason to fear the loss of productivity.
“We need to show managers and owners the flexible working dividend and we can if it is managed and monitored correctly.”
The dividend of flexible working also comes in two forms. Firstly, the increased performance of flexible workers but also from a business continuity standpoint. If there is a tube strike or a snow storm and people can’t physically reach the central hub, your organisation is unaffected if you have adopted a flexible model.
Provide the Tools to Enable Mobility
It seems an obvious point that the hardware provided to staff would have to be mobile to allow an organisation to leverage the benefits of flexible working. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones all provide an arsenal of potential tools to get maximum efficiency from the remote workforce.
“The simple move is that you end up having the business investing in laptops, rather than desktops, docking stations and screens rather than a fixed desk and then you have liberated the PC.”
Iain explains that the backend technology platforms also need to be capable of engendering maximum productivity gains for the future worker. CRM and business systems with remote access would be crucial. VanillaIP specialise in cloud communication platforms that accomplish just that. Iain is confident that the infrastructure platforms are there and capable of enabling all of the benefits that futuristic working practices can bring, as long as the end user hardware can take advantage of this.
“There is no point in trying to liberate the telecommunications capabilities of a company if the PC is still locked to the desk, in the office which is 40 miles away by train.”
The anchors need to be removed to fully utilise the benefits of cloud communication and collaboration platforms.
It’s very easy in a midsize or SMB environment to focus solely on the day to day struggle. Time is critical, especially for owners and senior management, but could you be missing a trick if you don’t explore the option of flexible working?
Maybe some of the benefits that cloud communication systems and remote work platforms could bring would revolutionise your business in ways no-one has imagined? So next time someone tries to tell you about how to enable the future of work in your business, it might be worth hearing them out?
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