Remote work has always been associated with the stigma of employees being unable to perform their jobs properly. This fact remains unchanged to this day. Business owners, despite the many benefits provided by modern technology solutions, are reluctant to let their employees work remotely. Is this paranoia deserved? Perhaps; but with a unified communications infrastructure, it’s possible to keep employees productive and engaged, even while they’re out of the office.

Unified communications can be a difficult topic to wrap your head around, especially if your organization has multiple offices and a large workforce. A survey by Softchoice reveals that 44% of IT managers find unified communications difficult to implement. Despite this fact, it’s still a highly sought-after solution; another survey by IDG found that 16% of businesses feel unified communications is of critical priority, while another 36% see it as very important.

The Pitfalls of Unified Communications for Remote Work

Even though unified communications has made it easier than ever to work remotely, there are still plenty of justified potential issues that you could run into while implementing unified communications. You need to be aware of the following pain points about remote workforce policies before implementing unified communications:

  • Less management and control: Enterprises need to keep a strict policy regarding data management and access control. The sudden lack of control associated with working off the company network can be unnerving for CIOs and business owners alike.
  • Communication and collaboration: Many organizations are of the belief that maintaining communication and collaboration with remote workers is both challenging and counterproductive, when they can just work in the office. This is perhaps due to the lack of oversight that often comes with working remotely. Providing your team with multiple communication technologies, like VoIP and instant messaging, ensures that users can be contacted when necessary, regaining that oversight.
  • Accountability: Employees need to be held accountable for what they do with any corporate-owned data. For example, if an employee were to lose data or allow a hacker access to your online infrastructure, you need to know where and how it happened.
  • Remote access security: In a similar train of thought, you need to be sure that hackers cannot intercept the transmission of data between your end users and your internal network infrastructure. A virtual private network is a great way to remediate this issue.
  • IT-related issues productivity loss: If your remote employees are experiencing IT-related issues, your internal IT department can’t help them as easily as an in-house team member. Your remote workers could potentially lose precious moments of productivity due to an unexpected error or tech hiccup.

The Benefits

Among the many challenges presented by a remote workforce, unified communications is capable of resolving many of them. Here are just a few ways that a unified communications solution can improve the way that your remote team works, and therefore, increase your bottom line:

  • Productivity increases significantly: 67 percent of employers found that remote workers with a unified communications solution in place yielded higher productivity. When end users can work with technology of their own choosing, they can get more work done, rather than struggle to operate hardware or software that they’re unfamiliar with.
  • Unified communications is cost-efficient: 42 percent of employers surveyed by IDG found that unified communications led to decreased costs. Businesses can save on hardware procurement and energy consumption, leading to an overall decrease in expenses.
  • Attending meetings and conference calling is easier: Some organizations don’t have meeting rooms big enough to facilitate their entire staff, while others might have remote workers of their own that work different hours. Regardless, unified communications relieves the pains of gathering your staff into one place through mass video conferencing technology, or conference calling solutions.
  • Project collaboration comes easier: Let’s face it; some smart, yet introverted, people are more valuable in an online environment than they are in a physical environment. Technologies like video conferencing, VoIP, and instant messaging can be of great value when working on projects.
  • Employees will be happier: When employees are happy, more work gets done. The same can be said about the quality of work. The act of giving your employees the option to choose how they want to work can be empowering, and it can make all of the difference when it comes time to hunker down and meet a deadline.

What You Can Do

If your employees are confident that they can do their jobs productively from home, you’ll be sure to receive plenty of requests for implementing unified communications. Here are two ways that you, as the organization’s CIO, can gauge what you’ll require for your unified communications solution.

  • Keep the end user involved: One of the most important parts of implementing unified communications for remote workers is to ask your workers what you can do to make it easier for them to do their jobs. Simply asking them what they need can keep you from implementing unnecessary and expensive technology, and can keep your organization focused on solutions that are specifically designed to augment your team’s responsibilities.
  • Educate your employees: As per usual, your best chance of implementing a unified communications solution that works for your employees is to train them on how best to take advantage of it. Share your own personal best practices, as well as any corporate-wide policies that must be adhered to while working remotely.

Enterprises have a difficult time adopting a unified communications solution, particularly because of the large-scale implementation that’s required. Therefore, it’s recommended that you take the time to educate your employees and seek the assistance you need to make unified communications a reality for your organization. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, especially in regards to something as important as your IT infrastructure.

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