I think it goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most disruptive event for how work gets done in the 21st-century. When the world locked down in March 2020, businesses large and small scrambled to move employees from the office to their homes. Most businesses implemented remote working policies without any degree of preparedness, leaving employees unable to manage communication and collaboration needs across dispersed teams.
Although many SMBs survived the transition and now have remote work capabilities, success in the next frontier lies in perfecting hybrid work models and meeting new employee expectations centered on mobility, flexibility, and autonomy.
Access Is Critical
For any employee to flourish and contribute great value to their company, they need access. The aspect of access I’m talking about is how people interact with each other; it’s less about if they can get to what they need and more about if they can quickly locate, communicate, and collaborate with coworkers or customers in a variety of ways from wherever they are.
To do so, businesses should consider a cloud communications platform that integrates phone, video calls, chat, file sharing, contact center and more to enable efficient and productive employee collaboration and customer engagements to happen from wherever work happens. To allow for this flexibility and mobility, the platform should come with mobile and desktop apps that allow for anywhere access and seamless transition between devices. And, of course, it should be highly reliable and secure.
It is this need for anywhere, anytime access that is driving businesses to migrate to cloud-based communications systems. Any systems that are restrictive and lack agility are proving to be obsolete and unfavorable for the modern workforce.
Where Someone Is Located No Longer Matters
With cloud-based communications, all the energy and time anyone spends on getting where they need to be in order to work no longer applies. There’s no need to travel to have real-time interactions or be in any specific location for operations to run as they should. No one is tied to an office when everyone has the flexibility to communicate through the same technology in one integrated and secure experience.
Over the last two years we’ve all learned that collaboration or business pitches or service calls don’t have to involve people being in the same physical location. Think of all the work that has been accomplished even in the absence of in-person work options. What propels working together without compromise is empowering teams with the right tools – ones that are integrated and easy to use and manage.
Easy to Use and Integrated Is Pivotal for Long-Term Sustainability
Some organizations didn’t adopt cloud communications before the pandemic because they were concerned about complexity. Many questioned if cloud communication platforms were actually easy to use and if their people would take the time to learn how to use them to make it a common practice within their organization. The pandemic forced their hand. Often, many businesses pieced together a few different apps from different providers to support their communications and collaboration needs—a chat app, video conferencing app, document storage, etc.
Unfortunately, this framework is not sustainable and becomes difficult to manage as time goes on, especially if those disparate solutions don’t work together. As a business grows, it may undergo “growing pains” which can be brought on with a cobbled together technology architecture. Now companies have a moment to reevaluate where they are. They’ll find that an easy-to-use and fully integrated cloud communications and collaboration solution – such as ones that involve voice, meeting, chat, file sharing and more all from one provider, with one support number, one point of management, and one bill – is a more cost-effective, reliable, secure, and convenient path forward.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Amidst the “great resignation” and “great relocation,” for SMBs to attract and retain employees they must offer seamless communications and collaboration tools that are easy, integrated, inherently mobile, and conducive to creating an environment that enables work to happen from wherever. Qualtrics has reported employees are 230% more engaged and 85% more likely to stay beyond three years in their jobs if they feel they have the technology that supports them at work. This is crucial for the 56% of small businesses who are concerned about recruiting enough new employees to fill open positions, and the 57% that are concerned about employee retention this year according to Q1 2022 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index (SBI). It follows that by having a reliable, user-friendly solution and a plan in place to allow work to happen from anywhere, SMB leaders can help themselves better avoid employee disengagement, frustration, and turnover.
Plus, the fact that cloud-based communication tools enable productive and collaborative work to happen no matter the location, employers are no longer hindered in the event of a talent exodus from their local geographies. Instead, talent searches can now be extended to wherever the best candidates can be found.
Jonathan McCormick, Chief Operating Officer at Intermedia
Hybrid worker stock image by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock