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Cloud Communications and Hybrid Work Environments: Forging the New Normal

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As companies learn the lessons of 2020 and start to rethink their long-term plans, it’s increasingly evident that hybrid workplaces consisting of both remote and on-site workers are going to be a key aspect of the “new normal.” This is an opportunity for managed service providers because a hybrid work environment requires high-quality hosted services – especially collaboration technologies.


Work-From-Home Isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon

Now that personnel have had a taste of the freedoms associated with working from home, many are reluctant to give up that flexibility and return to a physical office. Similarly, business owners see the potential to save money on real estate and other operational costs as fewer staffers return to the office. 

“Companies won’t revert to the same working environment as prior to the pandemic,” compliance monitoring executive Anthony Cresci wrote in the unified communications news publication No Jitter. “Employees will be demanding more flexible work arrangements afforded by [unified communications as a service] UCaaS solutions, not only to protect themselves but also to achieve a better work/life balance.” 

Cresci calls the rate at which companies have adopted hosted business communications services “unprecedented” – citing the traction of various communications solutions, including videoconferencing, omnichannel communication, mobile capabilities, and presence management tools.

 

The Ever-Present Need for Hybrid Environments

Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a survey between May and June of 2020, which represents the heart of the pandemic’s work-from-home mandate period. The objective was to determine the effectiveness of these mandated periods and what lessons workers will apply to their new professional environments. The company surveyed 120 executives and 1,200 personnel across the U.S. 70% of respondents had been required to work from home during lockdowns, and 30% worked from home on a regular basis previous to lockdowns. 

According to the survey, the primary motivation to go into the office was to collaborate face-to-face with other team members, which was cited by 50% of respondents. Difficulty collaborating was the top deterrent to productivity during lockdown.

Survey respondents came up with some additionally intriguing perspectives:

 

  • Office workers want to work from home more frequently – even after COVID-19 has subsided. 
  • 72% of those workers would prefer remote work at least two days per week.
  • More than half of executives – 55% – say they plan to offer the option for employees to work more than one day at home per week in the future.

 

Another finding: Remote workers want support and guidance to create work-life boundaries when dealing with a hybrid workplace. When doing business from home, work sometimes never stops, and the borders between personal and professional commitments blur.

 

The Opportunity: Establishing Boundaries Through Hosted Applications

Cloud-based communications services such as UCaaS have become absolutely critical for businesses to maintain efficiency during the pandemic. Without a reliable communications system that can be accessed from both home and on-site, workers become isolated and unable to collaborate with peers across various locations. This leads to frustration, inefficiency, poor customer service, and lost revenue. 

For channel partners offering cloud communications, this need presents a tremendous opportunity to help customers improve employee morale, address problem areas, and create a productive and healthy “new normal” for their businesses. Hosted platforms help workers establish structure and implement those much-needed boundaries. Tools such as presence management allow employees to clearly indicate when they’re on break, “out” to lunch, or otherwise unavailable for collaborative activities. By offering those solutions to customers, channel partners can solidify their role as the trusted advisor – deeping their relationship to the customer and increasing stickiness over time.

Similarly, in the contact center, feature-rich hosted technologies can perform functions that help delineate between work and personal time. Workforce management tools allow supervisors to easily schedule agent breaks, vacations, and regular shifts across an entire organization – including both on-site and remote personnel. This capability provides structure and defined work hours for individual call center agents through a simple drop-and-drag process.

Although none of us has a crystal ball, many of us have become comfortable with the hybrid or distributed workplace. If we heed the lessons of the early months of the pandemic and deploy the right hosted technologies, we can establish a “new normal” that incorporates the best of both environments.

To learn more about how to help your customers embrace cloud communications – and how to capitalize on the lucrative opportunities presented by the “new normal” – download our essential guide to cloud communications.

 

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