This year’s pandemic has hit many businesses hard, with many either closing down or having their staff work from home rather than in the office.
Remote working has been increasing in recent years but this year’s events have meant a sharp increase in those conducting business from their homes.
A lot of companies who employ remote workers are thinking about keeping them remote even after the pandemic.
But first, what do employees actually think about having to work from home? There are mixed opinions on it, but these are a few of the statistics revealed by McKinsey Research:
- 28% claimed to be as productive at home as in the office
- 41% said they are more productive at home than in the office
- 80% said they prefer working from home
Businesses have to understand that remote working in the future will likely be different to remote working now as it becomes the new ‘norm’ for many.
While many remote workers are still trying to work out how to juggle career and personal lives, now both are based at home, they are also still concerned about the potential challenges.
Consider the following questions:
- How can we make working from home similar to working in the office?
- What challenges can be expected from this change?
- How important is VoIP with regard to a future workplace scenario?
At the same time, technological developments like VoIP are made to simplify and improve the whole process.
Could VoIP Be a Good Solution?
VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is becoming increasing popular as a solution for remote working. It has a number of benefits, including cost-saving, productivity increases, better bandwidth use, worldwide access, reliability and scalability, which we will be looking at.
VoIP is not compulsory but it can certainly make life easier for those who are working remotely from home. Nobody was expecting or fully prepared for Covid-19 and the way it would affect every part of our lives this year.
However, at the same time, remote working has become ever more popular, even pre-Covid, which is why VoIP is becoming the best way for everyone to keep in touch regardless of where they are physically located.
Now let’s have a look on challenges awaiting for businesses in terms of remote working and how VoIP can be a saviour.
Effective Communication Can Be Tricky
Remote working from the comfort of your own home means you can’t schedule a meeting with a coworker, walk up to someone’s desk with a question, or do an in-person check on the progress of a coworker or employee.
Working from home can lead to less effective communication, which in turn can have a negative impact on the company over time.
If you walk over to someone’s desk, for example, you can ask them a question and get the answer immediately. Send a message to someone instead and you can only hope they will see it in time.
They might forget an update or important reminder, because they are dealing with something else going on in their home rather than sitting in front of the PC. Perhaps they are taking a break. They might have gone shopping for groceries, or decided on an afternoon nap.
There is nothing to stop people from doing this, and of course it means that productivity will decline if you cannot reach someone you need to get to in a hurry. Businesses are going to find it tricky to ensure everyone understands one another, and that everyone is on the same page.
VoIP Can Bring the Team Together
A VoIP system can be used to effectively manage a team. A manager will be able to see whether employees are available or away from their desk, and there is also a passive messenger feature to deliver messages to their screens immediately.
VoIP encourages workers to be on alert and ensures that queries, feedback and discussions are always possible. The team is more secure, productive and confident as a result. Just as it is important that managers can contact their workforce, it is also vital that workers are in touch with managers in such a remote workforce system.
Use VoIP for direct calls, instant messaging and leaving voice messages. All of these are included in a good VoIP package.
The Problem with Remote Meetings
Busy working schedules can make scheduling meetings difficult, whether in-person or remotely. If everyone is working from their own home, it can be even more difficult to ensure everyone’s availability as well as distraction-free online meetings.
Emails and phone calls are of course less personal than face-to-face meetings. These methods of communication can also lead to misunderstandings. Non-verbal communication can be tricky because facial expressions and other nuances are missed out.
VoIP Means ‘Virtual’ Meeting Rooms
VoIP conferencing allows everyone to participate in a meeting without having to be in the same room. Everyone can join a ‘meeting’ from their own home and interact in a very similar way to how they would in a conventional meeting. They can see, hear and interact with one another.
Individuals will be able to get their work done without the need to waste time travelling to and from a face-to-face meeting. Collaboration can become more seamless and travel time can be completely avoided.
Those using a VoIP system can expect a greater sense of unity, which is vital for a productive, happy team, despite not being physically together in the same building.
Maintaining Positive Work Environment is a Challenge
The home-work balance has been disrupted with the rapid increase in remote working. Some workers will be interrupted by unexpected visitors, persistent kids or needy pets.
Others might not understand how to log into or use VoIP or new apps because they haven’t had to before. Some people suffer from eye-strain or fatigue from staring at a screen all day, while others feel lonely being alone at home all day, physically far away from colleagues.
Keep the Balance by Using VoIP
Workers can multi-task using VoIP phone systems installed on their devices, allowing a good deal of flexibility. While waiting for a call in a queue, they can catch up with voicemails or read talk-to-text voicemail transcripts.
Someone using a good VoIP system can work on multiple devices, starting something on their smartphone for example, before continuing on the desktop PC. They can catch up even on their downtime, and not miss messages or important communications.
VoIP phone systems come with a variety of features and you can tailor the feature package to choose which ones you do and don’t want to have.
Difficult to Stay Updated with What’s Going On
Remote workers can often feel cut-off, isolated and miss their face-to-face conversations with colleagues they used to enjoy seeing on a daily basis. They can no longer stroll up to a colleague’s desk for a chat or to ask a question, or share a joke across the office.
VoIP Keeps Everyone Updated
When integrating VoIP, everyone can work from a different location but still be in touch and work professionally and cohesively as a team. This means employees can get their work done with ease, contact colleagues and customers when necessary, and stay on target and ahead of deadlines.
Battling to Distractions
Even if someone decides on a 9-5 schedule with a half-hour for lunch and a couple of 15-minute breaks, it is not necessarily that easy to implement it at home rather than in corporate surroundings.
When somebody is surrounded by the reminder of chores that need to be done, their personal belongings and perhaps kids and pets too, it can be hard to strictly focus on work.
Picture it: the washing up is sitting there, the dog wants to go for a walk and your kid has a hundred curious questions for you. In addition, your spouse is distracting you, and you know there is a movie on TV you wanted to see.
Home isn’t usually a place where you have to focus on work – it’s the place where you can relax away from work, so making the mental switch can be difficult.
This is of course the main reason companies are reticent to let employees work remotely. They prefer a firm work-home divide, rather than having someone at home and simply hoping they are focusing and being productive.
Using VoIP as a Productivity Tool
A tracking feature is included with VoIP software, so an employer is able to keep a virtual eye on his or her remote workforce. Daily, monthly or annual reports can be generated to measure productivity.
Some employees might not like the idea of being ‘tracked’ and feel like it is a privacy invasion or even feel insulted and mistrusted if tracking is implemented. However, the tracking feature is voluntary and can be disabled.
Set VoIP Now, Reap the Rewards
In today’s changing world, VoIP software can bring a wealth of benefits to companies large and small. It might even end up replacing traditional phone systems.
Companies who opt to use VoIP can expect a happier workforce and more streamlined processes, resulting in enhanced productivity and better profits.
Whatever the world post-Covid-19 is going to mean for us, VoIP can help everyone in the company to be productive, stay closely in touch and adapt to this new way of life.