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Integrated Communications Tools for the Remote Worker

June 23, 2017

Integrated Communications Tools for the Remote Worker

The key to successful remote working is empowering communication, collaboration, and transparency using integrated tools that are common within the organization. Remote workers need access to the same user interface that employees in the office have in order to ensure continuity, and they need access to the same tools that all other workers have. The true potential of remote working can only be achieved if the proper unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools are implemented; if so, there will be a positive effect on productivity, employee satisfaction, and efficiency.

With voice and video calls, instant messaging, and conferencing all enabled in a corporate UCC solution, employees can be contacted no matter where they are located, providing effective continuity. Team collaboration can be improved with simplified conference-call access across video, voice, and mobile devices and can include powerful, built-in screen- and document-sharing. According to a recent survey, executives believe that more than half of their full-time employees will be working remotely by the year 2020. But are all remote workers the same, with the same needs? Let’s take a look at five types of remote workers and their specific needs for integrated communications tools:

1. Virtual Home-Office Worker

This type of employee has a fully equipped home office and uses it as their primary work location. They may travel or visit the office occasionally, but mostly they perform their job from their home office as a virtual worker. This type of worker requires an integrated business mobility solution, with a home connection to the office network through a virtual private network, remote desktop, or cloud access, along with a solid mobile-phone plan. UCC solutions with stable screen-sharing and video-conferencing tools can help these remote workers develop a strong, collaborative presence with coworkers who work in other locations. The most important thing about these tools is that they are not in their own silo but are fully integrated into the corporate UCC solution in order to ensure transparency.

2. Road Warrior

 Road warriors are mobile employees who are typically on the road, like salespeople and service technicians. This includes the anytime/anywhere mobile professional who is based in the office but is often on the road handling business. This type of worker might need to be able to do work from an airport, hotel room, or restaurant or at a client’s office. Road warriors usually have a desktop phone at their office desk but also require mobility features. Remote-office features offered by both cloud-based and premises-based UCC solutions enable all calls to be seamlessly routed between mobile and desktop devices. Outbound calls can show the business phone number from mobile devices, providing business continuity and control. With a common user interface, these mobile workers can transition between devices easily and can often use their mobile devices in order to access other common business applications like email, instant messaging, and even video chat.

3. Hoteling Remote Worker

These remote workers spend part of their time in an office and part either on the road or in a home office. Because they come into the office in order to use resources and meet with managers and team members face to face fairly often, they need access to a desk. Many companies provide a bank of workstations for this type of employee, who, when in the office, can claim a desk as their own for the day and log in to the desk phone as a guest in order to use it for that period of time. Shared VoIP phones allow employees to use their own extension number and voicemail on the phone as a guest. This feature is called “hoteling” and is a good way for companies to save money on real estate that is only used part-time as opposed to dedicating permanent resources to employees who are only in the office 10 percent to 30 percent of the time.

4. Flexible Worker

Some employees need flexible working schedules in order to accommodate childcare schedules, medical needs, or class schedules. Some just need to be able to work flexibly on occasions when traffic or weather is an issue. Companies that provide tools to employees who need to work on a flexible schedule will gain productivity from their workers. These workers typically have the traditional in-office workspace but need mobile capability in order to log in to the network, check email, share files, and place calls or conduct conferences on the days they work remotely. Again, if the user interface is consistent with their desktop experience, employees will be just as productive from home as they are in the office. Integrated UCC is the key to the success of the remote workforce.

4. The Always “On” Worker

If employees have access to work from home, many will typically take part of their personal time in order to do some work. Reading an article, checking email, editing a document, or filling out a timesheet are examples of things that workers will often undertake at home outside of office hours. From office email access on mobile phones to UCC solutions providing social integration to conferencing solutions to remote-office mobile-phone solutions, employees in all divisions and at all levels want more mobility solutions in order to accomplish their work, whether they are in or out of the office.  

Value-added resellers (VARs) should speak with their customers in order to find out what type of remote workers exist in the company today and in the future. VARs are in the best position to advise and suggest integrated communications tools that will meet the needs of remote workers. Customers may fail to delineate between the different types of remote workers, but VARs can prove themselves to be excellent advisors by demonstrating the differences and appropriate tools.

Does your company offer different solutions for different types of remote workers? Please comment below.