UCaaS and IT: How to Prepare for the New Normal
As the world has had to adapt to certain changes in the way we live and work due to COVID-19, more and more companies are turning to remote work solutions, whether permanent or temporary. Some are preparing to offer remote work permanently, while others plan to require employees to return to headquarters whenever the coast is clear.
Regardless of the way your business is approaching working from home, there are some tools and practices that can make the transition smoother and more efficient for everyone involved. Let’s take a look at what the new normal is, and how you can adapt to it.
The Return to Work Might be Short-Lived
While it is exciting to be able to return to work, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 outbreaks can and do occur. The activity levels of many viruses move in waves, bringing new but repeating threats to your workplace over time. You’ll have to be ready in case a new wave or outbreak hits your area. In this instance, it may be necessary to quickly send employees back to their work-from-home (WFH) ways. Don’t get too comfortable back in the office — you and your workers may not be staying there indefinitely.
Preparing for a Return to Remote Work Is a Must
So how do you go about preparing for this volatile environment? The first step is to be ready, should a shift back to working from home arise quickly. You may intend to support working from home permanently, or you could send employees home for short periods during increased risk. Either way, a permanent settlement in the office may not be a viable option.
You may find that, on closer inspection, many of your employees don’t actually need to work from the office. With the right tools, working from home is an accessible option. Most of them can use cloud storage to access their files and various communication methods, like video conferencing and instant messaging, to talk to their coworkers and clients. A voice over IP (VoIP) or unified communications programs can make it even simpler, and we’ll talk more about that later.
Providing your employees with basic equipment like laptops with cameras might be all you need to do. Sometimes, a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program can even eliminate that step.
How Some Companies Have Permanently Expanded Remote Working
If you’re looking to make remote work permanent, there are several different ways to make the switch easier, such as:
- Focusing on cloud services: With cloud services, your employees always have access to their files, whether in the office or sitting at home. Many sync up automatically, so you won’t have to prep your files before a few weeks of at-home work. Employees can simply grab their laptops and access all the same cloud files as they would at work.
- Finding affordable solutions: No business wants to spend more than they have to to keep the company moving. Opportunities that capitalize on your existing tools — such as devices your employees already have — can help.
- Enabling flexible practices: Some companies will have their employees bring a laptop to and from work. Then, if they need to lock down at home, it’s easy to do so, and they already have everything they need with them, assuming their home internet connection is stable.
- Creating policies for extended variation: If you want to offer WFH options permanently, you can develop those policies now and decide how flexible they’ll be. Workers might be able to stay home if they’re under the weather or for instances like needing to wait for a repair technician at the house.
Enabling remote working permanently can provide significant benefits to your employees and the company as a whole. Many remote workers want to keep the option of working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers, and employees who get more flexibility are often happier, more likely to stay in their jobs, and willing to work more hours.
If your current plan involves allowing only as much remote work as necessary, consider the benefits remote work can have for your employees and their feelings toward your company. Don’t forget the health benefits it offers in the current climate.
How UCaaS and Managed IT Services Can Help Adapt to This New Normal
Out of all the tools that have become increasingly helpful to businesses moving to remote work, two stand out: Unified Communications as a service (UCaaS) and managed services.
UCaaS is a cloud-based communications service that puts all of the apps and services your employees use into one easy-to-use interface. Workers can use voice chats, video conferences, emails, texting, instant messenger and more in an app, program or website. Interaction with coworkers and clients is seamless across all devices since it happens over the cloud.
Aside from using all the same tools at home that they would use in the office, here are some other UCaaS trends and options that can help remote workers.
- Using an IP-enabled phone at a home office: With a program in place for VoIP, work-from-home employees can use a phone just like the ones at their normal work desks.
- Accessing messaging applications while out and about: If someone needs to contact a coworker or client when they’re away from their desk, a UCaaS app on a smartphone allows them to do so with the same systems.
- Making calls from their work number: UCaaS VoIP allows remote workers to answer calls directed to their work numbers from a personal device. They can also dial out from that number.
- Getting online from a device unrelated to work: Say an employee’s phone dies and they need to get in touch with the office. They can hop onto a computer in a hotel lobby and log into a web application to do so.
UCaaS is cost-effective, too, since it doesn’t require a large capital expense or complicated installations. Plus, it combines your voice and data applications and may lower the cost of ownership for them.
For workers, it is easy to switch back and forth, in case a health-related outbreak occurs and they need to stay home. Even if they just have their personal devices, they can still access work-related tools and files.
In addition to UCaaS, many companies enlist managed services to take care of the new technological demands that come with remote workers. Managed services allow a third-party provider to handle certain aspects of your IT system, such as the following.
- Network and security assessments: With employees working on potentially less-secure devices, a managed services provider (MSP) can monitor the situation and identify areas for improvement, so you can ensure data security even with remote workers.
- Desktop monitoring and care: An MSP can also keep an eye on devices, looking for viruses, spyware and other threats.
- Mobile device management: Whether you’re providing company-owned devices or implementing BYOD, MSPs can manage that equipment. They can configure the devices for access and data security that fit the needs of your business.
Managed services are especially beneficial for companies that don’t have a robust IT department or are unsure about their approach to remote work.
Our Managed IT and Cloud Communication Services
When it comes to choosing a managed IT and UCaaS provider, we’ve got you covered. Consolidated Technologies, Inc. is well-versed in preparing businesses for this new normal and can quickly add yours to the list. We know you don’t have a lot of time to waste, so we offer fast deployment and personalized solutions to meet the needs of your company.
We pride ourselves in taking on challenging situations, and this worldwide move to remote work certainly fits the bill. Fortunately, we have the tools to make it easy on you, and our experts can handle a wide variety of goals and needs.
From managed IT services that take the stress of technological problems off your team to UCaaS that enables impressive work functionality and communication at any location, we can help you navigate the situation at hand. Contact us today to find out more.