The global pandemic has left a lasting impression on the way businesses and their employees structure their working week. Prior to the pandemic, the option to work remotely was considered a privilege or a perk of a job.
Post pandemic, however, it’s likely the majority of companies will operate under a hybrid workplace model – incorporating remote working as a standard employee right. As the world takes cautious steps to return to a new sort of a normal, it’s important for businesses to take the time to analyse what worked, and what didn’t throughout the lockdown period so they can ensure that the implementation of any permanent hybrid solution will be successful.
With challenges surrounding the safe return to the workplace for everyone and the possibility that a serious cash injection may be required to bring offices up to new safety standards for a full capacity return, the notion of a hybrid workplace is very appealing indeed.
The move to the hybrid workplace
First off, there is a need to understand what exactly is meant by a hybrid workplace. Essentially, it consists of employees who work remotely and/or at an official company location. Employees may work part of the time remotely and the other part onsite or choose one or the other.
According to the National Remote Working Study, an overwhelming 95% of employees in Ireland would prefer to remain working remotely to some degree. People have experienced a new way of living, without the stress of commuting, the additional cost of travel and with the benefit of having extra time at home with family. And while working from home has not come without its challenges, for some the pros of working from home greatly outweigh the cons.
Another factor prompting the wider adoption of a hybrid model is the cost savings that can be realised. For many businesses, remote working simply was not in the plan and possibly not even considered an option at all. With the pandemic taking that choice away from many organisations, they were forced to make it work. And a good many of them did just that, not only surviving but thriving. So much so that company leaders are taking it upon themselves to revise business plans and look at a more permanent restructuring with remote working being the focus.
An Accenture report noted that 63% of high-revenue growth companies embrace the hybrid workforce model while 69% of companies with negative or no growth reject the concept of hybrid workplaces, preferring either all onsite or all remote employees. These are powerful reasons to at least experiment with a hybrid model.
The challenges of managing a hybrid workforce
While having the flexibility to balance family and working life is one of the main benefits to working remotely, the pandemic has also highlighted the emotional challenges that can arise when working in isolation. According to the National Remote Working Study carried out in Ireland, the main reasons for employees wanting to return to the office are loneliness and isolation from their colleagues.
This, perhaps, poses the greatest hurdle for business leaders to overcome when considering a permanent move to a remote or hybrid model. How to manage a remote workforce or a hybrid workforce that needs to be able to operate somewhat independently while at the same time promoting a culture of inclusivity and teamwork?
Another fear for many business owners during the pandemic was that there would be a dip in productivity. This initial fear seems to have been proven wrong, however, as overall, the switch to remote working has seen an increase in productivity.
A survey from Expleo revealed that 52% of Irish businesses noted an improvement in productivity. 37% reported a sustained level of productivity and just 11% of respondents recorded a decline in productivity. And so while productivity has not been greatly affected with the shift to remote working, this could change when employees find themselves navigating a hybrid model.
This model introduces two different employee experiences at once and finding the balance when working between the two will inevitably take some learning and adapting for both employees and management.
A clear and solid intercompany communications strategy will be key to this model’s success. And companies will need to invest in the tools required to help employees work productively and efficiently while facilitating connection and collaboration.
The benefits of VoIP phone systems for intercompany communications
So what types of tools and systems are best suited to an intercompany communications strategy. Here is where we get a bit more technical. VoIP is communications technology that runs through an existing internet connection.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems have proven to be vital for helping businesses to adapt to the pandemic working environment and is the ideal solution for a hybrid workforce.
The main benefits are:
1. Lower Costs
VoIP Phone Systems can save a business money on their communication costs. As VoIP phone systems work over the internet, phone call costs are significantly lower than when using a traditional phone line.
2. Greater Flexibility
Using a VoIP phone system means that employees can keep in touch with their team regardless of their location. Not being location dependent also means that, in terms of hiring new employees, a potential candidate’s geographical location no longer applies. This results in an employer having greater flexibility when hiring the best candidates for their business.
3. Team Connection
Ensuring that all team members, whether on site or off, feel like they are an important and valued part of the team is vital to a successful intercompany communications strategy. With VoIP, features such as instant chat, video conferencing, including screen sharing and whiteboard capabilities, allow team members to have the same level of input and interaction with colleagues no matter where they are based.
4. Maintaining Productivity
As mentioned earlier, a concern for businesses adopting a hybrid working model is being able to monitor employee productivity both onsite and off. VoIP Phone systems offer a wide range of analytics features which provide the employer with detailed reports for each employee activity and work output. This also acts as an incentive to employees to monitor and maintain their own productivity levels regardless of location.
5. Business Continuity
Communication is not just employee and employer. Customer communication will also be a top priority and it Is crucial that team members have access to the CRM system regardless of their working location. This will ensure that no customer leads and sales opportunities are missed when team members are working remotely. Integrations between CRM and VoIP Phone System will ensure that team members have access anytime and anywhere.
The 3CX android and iOS applications that can support the hybrid business model
- The VoIP Phone System provided by One Contact uses 3CX technology that has a wide variety of technologically advanced features. These applications are available for both Android and iOS devices and are crucial to the success of the hybrid working model in all types of businesses. WebRTC web conferencing facilitates team meetings that can be held regardless of the hosts location. Whiteboards, PDF sharing and screen sharing are all part of the 3CX technology designed to engage all team members and help to bridge the gap between employees working remotely and in the office. This feature can also enable both individual development and team coaching within the business.
- Real Time Messages are the perfect solution for employees who would prefer to avoid having long-lasting and unnecessary phone calls with team members.
- The Instant Chat feature offered by 3CX can be used to send messages, documents, voice notes and more. This allows for swift and reliable handover of information between team members.
- The free phone apps that come with the 3CX system allow employees to operate their work extension from home or on the go while utilising the same contact details. This is ideal for employees who are working part of the week at home and the remainder in the office while keeping the communication costs to a minimum.
- 3CX’s Analytics feature helps monitor each team member’s productivity. Not only does this keep the employer informed of employees’ individual progress but it also helps keep employees motivated and focussed regardless of whether they are working in the office or remotely.
- The integration feature allows team members to integrate their accounting, ERP and CRM systems into the one location, facilitating team access to the information at any time and from anywhere.
The 3CX VoIP phone system can be customised to create a communications package to suit every business. As a channel partner of 3CX, One Contact has over 45 years of experience in providing businesses with the perfect telecoms solution.
To enquire about a new phone system for your business, give us a call on 01 906 0990 or email us at sales@OneContact.ie. Our team is ready to help you find the right communication solution for your business and are happy to see what discounts may be available to you.