In an effort to do more with less, some businesses are downsizing their office space and increasing their virtual workforces. Having dedicated office space is still important for large corporations and enterprises, but for small to mid-size businesses the costs associated with dedicated office space can be better spent elsewhere to increase sales. The physical office has less significance to today’s workforce than in the past, and more and more employees and companies are adopting the new paradigm: it’s not about location, it’s about results. This business model does pose some challenges: How do you meet with your team on a regular basis? Are my employees really doing what they are supposed to? What about customer service? What if clients want to conduct regular meetings? All of these concerns can be addressed through the use of Unified Communications (UC).
Before you can implement a successful UC strategy, you must first define what unified communications is and how it will bring your team and your customers together. Unified Communications is the art of uniting people from anywhere around the world through collaboration tools accessible from any device at anytime. UC is comprised of several “real-time” collaboration tools such as instant/text messaging, team sites, file sharing capabilities and video conferencing. Remember that employees want to use technology and tools that will allow them to get their work done faster, better and more collaboratively. Since there are several options available for each of these technologies and tools, a workforce provisioning analysis should be conducted prior to finalizing which programs everyone will be required to utilize. This step is particularly important for small to mid-size companies that do not maintain a dedicated office space and are less likely to maintain a Virtual Private Network (VPN). After evaluating and establishing the tools you will be using to communicate on a regular basis, make sure everyone understands how to use them. If the tools selected are not easily understood they will not be used – remember tools that are intuitive are tools that will get used. If training is required for certain tools, make it a team building event that everyone needs to attend and learn together.
With collaboration tools in place that everyone understands and utilizes to communicate with one another, meeting on a regular basis to address individual roles and responsibilities is important. Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – meeting with your team is a must! Thanks to the ability to hold a video conference or coordinate a centralized meeting venue for in-person meetings, scheduling your team’s regular meeting should be easy. And, during your regular team meetings you will witness firsthand how dedicated and hardworking your employees really are.
Creating and cultivating a virtual team that understands your business, customers and the tools available to them will deliver the best results. Since every individual in your team is compelled to prove his or her worth to you and the team, you can be confident you will be getting the best from everyone. With everyone on your virtual team communicating, collaborating and working together as if they were in one location, your company is now “humming” and you can be confident your clients’ concerns and deadlines will be met in a timely fashion.
The same unified communications and collaboration tools should be utilized to connect and communicate with your clients. By providing a means of open communication, your clients will see you as agile, flexible, adaptable and attentive to their needs and will look forward to working with you. Remember, a winning UC program is one that is carefully thought out, developed and easy to utilize by everyone involved – you, your team and your clients.