Legacy systems won’t support the long-term growth of the hybrid work model. Your team needs the data networking, security, collaboration and unified communications solutions that support an in-office experience anywhere.
Much has been written about the growth of hybrid and remote work models over the past year, but these models weren’t invented in 2020. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, companies were adopting the technologies that support hybrid and remote work.
As the world envisions a post-pandemic future and, according to Gartner, 82 per cent of leaders say they will allow at least some form of remote work, the cultural shift is impossible to roll back. Leaders and team members recognise that “work” is an action, not a place; as long as employees can do their jobs, the location doesn’t matter.
Lynda Gratton, professor of management at London Business School and founder of HSM, notes that hybrid work exists in the upper quadrant of a time/place matrix, as noted in her recent article for Harvard Business Review.
Work arrangements in place and time
Working in the office from 9 to 5 used to be the norm, with companies allowing limited flexibility in where or when employees worked. The pandemic has upended that model, as managers recognise that many employees can work productively anywhere, anytime.
“Leaders know that a hybrid work model requires the right platforms and tools,” says Michael Strople, President and CEO, Allstream. “At Allstream, we partner with our customers to deliver the right tools that will create a solid and agile technology platform for hybrid work.”
Allstream partners with large and small enterprises across North America to power their transitions to hybrid and remote work. We ask four foundational questions to help customers create a technology platform that replicates the in-office experience anywhere:
Do all team members have robust, powerful Internet access?
“The most important technology in the hybrid work toolbox is internet access. Modern data networking solutions offer the flexibility, reliability and simplicity that make hybrid work models successful,” says Matt Waldo, Allstream Product Manager. “For example, software-defined wide-area-network (SD-WAN) solutions provide a solid, reliable way to support remote and hybrid team members while prioritising key applications, such as voice.” SD-WAN allows companies to take advantage of multiple low-cost Internet connections to connect as many remote locations as necessary, allowing remote workers to have an in-office experience from anywhere and stay connected to colleagues even through disruptions with automatic failover.
Do the connectivity solutions maintain security and support any compliance requirements?
Today, businesses of all sizes find team members working anywhere, from remote offices and home offices to airports and coffee shops, domestically and internationally. For certain industries, such as finance, regulatory compliance and data privacy are real concerns as employees pivot to working remotely.
“There are several kinds of security solutions that can help keep a business’s data safe and compliant,” says Waldo. “SD-WAN solutions create private and secure connections, VPNs prevent unauthorised access when working on a public network, and firewall updates can be pushed from the cloud automatically to ensure your protection is always current.”
What tools best support the collaboration needs of individuals and teams?
Collaboration in the post-pandemic world looks much different than it did a few years ago. Connections that took place face-to-face now happen online and across devices. With modern tools, companies can recreate those interactions online. In any given day, a team member might participate in multiple online web conferences from the home office, check team availability with presence and messaging features, start an impromptu meeting from one of several devices, and review a document in real time with a teammate across the country. The right tools make all those options seamless while maintaining quality and security.
Does the communications solution support hybrid work, and if not, what solution would give team members the in-office experience anywhere?
“No office environment of any kind, whether in-person, remote or hybrid, can be fully functional without a solid communications system,” says Don Thorsen, UC Product Manager, Allstream. Telephone services are still vital to the operation of any business, especially when it comes to the customer experience: a 2020 report from Zendesk found that 66 per cent of customers typically resolve issues with a company by phone. “Even though customers now expect a variety of options to connect with companies, the ability to call and talk to a ‘real person’ remains an important channel for connection,” says Thorsen. But many legacy communications solutions don’t adequately support a hybrid work model. “Older on-premises systems likely don’t give team members all the functionality they need when working remotely, and even some modern cloud solutions may not have the integrations to replicate the full in-office experience,” he adds.
Every company should evaluate three key areas when deciding how to implement the right calling solution for a hybrid workforce:
Devices: a good unified communications (UC) solution will allow team members to use the devices that meet their unique needs, whether that means a desk phone and headset, a soft phone, a mobile phone paired to a work number or the flexibility to switch between multiple options.
Cloud vs on-premises: moving from a premises-based phone system to a cloud system sounds daunting, but there are a number of advantages to making the switch, including budget control, business continuity and flexibility.
Contact center tools: providing a stellar customer experience requires a solution with fully integrated contact centre tools that give modern customers every contact option they expect and help resolve calls quickly. A robust contact centre solution enables your business to provide a full omnichannel experience to customers, improving both customer experience and your bottom line.
As companies across the globe navigate the future of work, Allstream is ready to partner with them to provide the best in connectivity, security, collaboration and telecom services. With a network of local partnerships, a team of product and technology experts, and a full array of solutions, we can help businesses position their hybrid work teams for long-term success.
For more information on how Allstream can get you set up on hybrid work, click here.