The year of 2022 had two distinct phases. The first half of the year was characterised by nearly as much uncertainty as the second half of 2021 when it came to ways of working, for example re-opening offices, safety policies and measures based on changing COVID-19 protocols. Most workplaces were prepared to close quickly and re-open safely. Unprecedented levels of remote and hybrid work were established across the workforce. The second half of 2022 saw more wide-scale re-openings – locally, nationally, and globally – driven by the fading pandemic and enabled by technology to digitise workflows and connect distributed workers. In 2022, organisations relied on transformative technologies such as Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS), expecting that technology adoption will enable their hybrid workforce with seamless communication, which will, in turn, help maintain or improve employee experience and productivity. These unified communication services included Calling, Audio/Video Meetings, Messaging, Events, Webinars, Recording and Desktop/File Sharing capabilities, among others.
But the reality was very different from expectations.
“According to Frost & Sullivan, enterprises across North America, Europe, Asia, and LATAM reported negative impacts on employee wellbeing, especially those working from home. 23% reported meeting fatigue and a third said that their relationships with co-workers suffered, and they had many distractions/no dedicated workspace.”
Three-quarters of IT Decision Makers (ITDMs), who were surveyed, reported difficulties in supporting hybrid work in the following parameters:
“Implementing strategies to effectively support remote and in-office employees will remain a top challenge for 2023.”
The survey respondents said that a quarter or more of their organisation’s desk workers will be working remotely part-time or full-time two years from now. Reduced corporate real-estate footprint and energy saving, in addition to the gap between expectation and reality, are presenting unique opportunities for enterprises to rethink and focus on increasing innovation.
UCaaS technology remains part of organisational strategy, as they are redesigning the workplace for lower occupancy rates, new workstyles, and aspirations to transform office sites into creativity and collaboration hubs. Enterprises who invest in the right UCaaS technology from the right service provider can ensure that they stay innovative and contextual. ITDMs will have consistent access to a robust UCaaS toolset, essential to connect teams and maintain productivity, no matter where users work.
Personalise UCaaS for improved employee engagement
Hybrid work has forced enterprises to focus on employee experience as talent retention has become increasingly difficult.
“A scarcity of skilled labour is affecting organisations across industries. Many teams are doing more with less.”
Front-line employees are engaged and productive when they feel included, valued, and appropriately equipped. An invigorated effort to personalise UCaaS for improved employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity is underway in enterprises. Persona and role-based solutions comprised of integrated software and hardware devices, and workflow integrations, enable users to work smarter and in a more inclusive manner.
Many ITDMs now prefer persona-based UCaaS licensing models e.g., voice-only user licensing model where the front-line user just needs a phone (softphone or hard phone) with dial-tone; collaboration user licensing model where users need a unified application for calling, and messaging and meeting use-cases; power user licensing model where users such as CXOs need multiple devices & mode for their calling, meeting and messaging use-cases and they should be able to seamlessly use any device for their collaboration work-load without any interruptions.
Migrate to a single provider
Another approach by many ITDMs to mitigate the gap in the hybrid world and to be able to deploy truly successful hybrid UCaaS solutions is to move towards end-to-end service provider solutions in the near term (1-3 years). The single vendor should ideally be able to provide all four service layers:
1) Collaboration Apps such as Calling, Meeting, Messaging, Voice Email, Auto-attendant, Audio Conferencing, Events, Training, Contact Center, Reporting, Monitoring etc.
2) Access Networks – the Internet, MPLS, SDWAN, Edge Connect, P2P, VPN, etc.
3) PSTN Calling Plan including domestic and international plans
4) E2E Managed Services including services such as Assessment, Migration, Integration, Deployment, Adoption, Management and Measurement as the organisation moves to the cloud. The additional benefits of working with a single service providers include consolidated billing, integration compliance and security frameworks, and unified management.
“Organisations will need to customise their Unified Communications solution to balance user and employee experience, security and compliance.”
You should enable employees with the flexibility to use the approved applications and devices they prefer, empower employees to help develop best practices around the most effective use of functionality for their roles and educate employees on all the benefits and capabilities of UCaaS. This will allow you and your organisation to thrive in a hybrid collaboration world.
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Data/statistics source & inspiration: Frost and Sullivan 2022 UCC Industry Predictions. https://store.frost.com/2022-ucc-industry-predictions.html