Virtual Reality: How to easily establish consistent communications with anyone, anywhere

When the London Business School hosted its annual Global Leadership Summit in June 2014, the school surveyed attendees about a variety of modern business issues and challenges. While the results of that survey covered a variety of topics, one of the really interesting findings was that respondents believed that half of their employees would be working remotely by 2020.

 

Think about that for a second. In just six years, 50% of your organization may be working from somewhere other than your business’ corporate or regional office. That figure may sound like a stretch, but a recent New York Times article revealed that telecommuting grew by 79% between 2005 and 2012 — and that number is expected to rise even more over the next decade.

 

So, what does this mean for the future of business?

 

For starters, it means that organizations must find ways to empower their employees to work effectively and efficiently from any location. Thankfully, cloud-based technology is making that a reality — allowing employees to access virtually any file, application, network, or communication service from any place with a secure Internet connection.

 

The challenges of modern communication with traditional equipment

 

Modern phone systems are critical to making sure remote communication operates functionally and effectively – be it an employee working from home and feeling connected to headquarters, or communication across multiple office locations. Imagine for a moment that you operate a healthcare system with teams of physicians who operate out of multiple offices and hospitals. In order to effectively manage patient care and billing, those physicians and their staff must be able to easily communicate with each other (and their “main” office), regardless of where they are or what equipment (landline, cell phone, etc.) they’re using.

 

With traditional on-site phone systems, creating that kind of network connectivity and flexibility would be incredibly challenging. And even if you managed to make it work, it’s very likely that you would still deal with a handful of other issues.

 

  • Quality of service: While it might seem like on-premise phone systems would be more reliable, the issue is with the quality of the equipment and network across all remote offices. If the “pipe” from one remote office to the corporate headquarters isn’t big enough, it can lead to significant call and system quality issues.

 

  • Cost of service: Over the life of your phone system, on-site solutions cost just as much (if not more, when you factor in long-term maintenance costs) as cloud-based managed phone solutions. As a result, you often end up paying the same amount to set up a less flexible, less feature-rich network. Meanwhile, your competitor will be paying less to flip a switch and tap into a VoIP solution with much greater functionality and system integration. Scalability and flexibility of service: Every time you open or expand an office, onsite phone systems require significant investments in additional hardware and installation services. And if staffing levels change, traditional phone systems often aren’t flexible enough to adapt on the fly.

 

  • Scalability and flexibility of service: Every time you open or expand an office, onsite phone systems require significant investments in additional hardware and installation services. And if staffing levels change, traditional phone systems often aren’t flexible enough to adapt on the fly.

 

Traditional communication systems deliver fewer features and less flexibility, but can cost you more when you factor in the equipment needed for each remote office, and the support costs of setting up and managing each of those private networks.

 

Regardless of the vertical your business operates in, that math doesn’t makes much sense.

 

Cleaning up the way modern businesses communicate

 

From a data and communications infrastructure perspective, there’s little doubt that cloud-based phone systems can improve the speed and capability of your company’s remote offices. There is much less effort required, and, ultimately, much greater functionality available to your staff.

 

And while all of that will no doubt lead to greater organizational efficiency and effectiveness (not to mention fewer technical headaches), it’s important not to forget that 50% of your workforce could be remote in six years. To prepare for that possibility, your company’s systems, processes, and applications must be incredibly scalable, flexible, and reliable.

If those aren’t words you’d use to describe your existing phone and communications systems, then it might be time to consider making a change.

Remote Control: How your phone system may be stifling remote employee productivity

Imagine for a moment that you’re a sales manager at a growing company and you’ve just been tasked with building a remote team of 40 sales reps. Your company’s headquarters is in Boston, but these reps will primarily work out of their home offices and much of their time will be spent on the phone — either initiating conversations with prospective clients or engaging existing customers.

While most of your sales reps have personal smartphones they can use on the go, you know that business calls are better conducted on a private line that provides more reliable call quality. Your sales reps will appear more professional, while the features of a business phone system also allows them to be more productive.

But here’s the issue: How exactly are you going to set up each of those sales reps with their own phone lines and all the tools they need to be as productive as possible?

The challenges with remote workers and on-premise phone systems

With traditional onsite phone systems, business owners or in-house IT experts would need to take several laborious steps to get remote workers’ phones connected to the company’s internal network.

First, they’d have to purchase an expensive phone for each employee — typically through their TelCo provider. Next, they’d need to do some circuit work to ensure that the company’s on-premise system could manage the additional call load. And lastly, they’d have to perform regular monitoring and maintenance of the onsite equipment to ensure its ongoing reliability.

Then there’s the issue of system features and functionality.

Generally, the benefits of legacy onsite phone systems are limited to reliability, caller identification, and voicemail functionality. Modern VoIP systems, however, allow employees (including remote workers) to easily link their phone to CRM and ERP applications, leverage click-to-dial technology, and unleash powerful call analytics.

If your business can’t provide those tools to remote employees, then it’s likely limiting your remote staff’s efficiency and productivity.

Is a cloud-based phone system the answer?

The emergence of cloud-based VoIP technology has largely rendered each of the challenges and obstacles listed above moot. With a cloud-based phone system, getting a remote employee up and running with a phone system is as simple as purchasing a phone, connecting it to the Internet, and downloading some software.

There’s no added setup, maintenance, management costs, or headaches, and your remote employees can immediately tap into the same functionality that in-house employees have access to. Even better, cloud-based phone service providers ensure the system is constantly upgraded and protected, which improves uptime, call reliability, and customer experience.

In a word, a cloud-based phone system just makes things easier.

If your business has a legacy onsite phone system that’s failing to deliver that kind of connectivity to your remote staff, or if you just think there’s a more effective way to sync remote workers to your company’s network, then you may want to consider moving to the cloud. Your remote employees — and their customers — will thank you for it.