An Emergency Work-at-Home Toolkit for Business
Twitter just told all of its employees to work at home 100% of the time because of the coronavirus and you may be next when it comes knocking on your office door. It is a scenario all companies should be thinking about at this time and get ready for. Fortunately, off-the-shelf solutions that enable quick, secure and effective implementation of collaboration, communication and business continuity are readily available. Here’s an annotated checklist of key tools to look for that you can quickly roll out to your workforce and help your business come through this period unscathed.
Unified Communications & Collaboration
- Video calling. There’s not going to be time for a measured culture shift to a newly remote, distributed workplace. Adding familiar faces to conversations will help lessen the dislocation and keep people connected.
- Instant Messaging & Presence (IM&P): When you can’t walk down the hall, these tools make it easy for users to see whether a colleague is available for a chat, then instantly send a message.
- Collaboration services: Virtual, always-on meeting room space for ad-hoc or planned meetings so your teams can easily share information and collaborate using any combination of group chat, voice and video conferencing, desktop and application sharing, and file sending.
- Unified messaging: Remote users need access to emails, voicemails, and texts in the format that works best for them, depending on where they are and what they’re doing. Unified mailbox, notifications, and user-defined call routing increase user productivity.
Security & Continuity
While communication and collaboration are essential for remote workplace, so is security and business continuity. It is critical to have the right technology in place that supports the remote staff’s productivity and connectedness, while keeping the company secure. The last thing you need is to adopt a patchwork of complicated applications and systems that tax your IT department and create new risks. Look for solutions that include these elements:
- Comprehensive firewall management: You want your newly remote employees to be safe within the corporate network via secure VPN access that gives them access to critical applications and helps them remain productive. Firewalls can ensure internet traffic from remote workstations gets the same protection as if physically in the office, given they are up-to-date and properly configured and managed.
- Secure endpoints: The laptops now sitting on home office desks can become vulnerable points of entry for cybercriminals, so securing them properly is critical. You’ll want to make sure that they can easily receive security patches, Next Generation AV, secure remote control and troubleshooting support.
- Failover when the cable hiccups: For mission critical positions you want to ensure that there’s not a single point of failure looming. If the home broadband connection goes down and you’re streaming TV, it’s an annoyance. For a business with employees providing essential services, it’s a disaster. There are solutions like managed SD-WAN that will automatically switch to a 4G LTE connection that will keep your folks working for as long as needed.
- Reliable support: It’s always important to be able to call for help when you’re implementing a new system or tool, but that becomes a matter of business life or death when you’re in the middle of crisis management and making changes on a timetable measured in hours instead of months. Consider simplifying your crisis workload by working with a managed services provider that can coordinate all the moving parts during this time so you can concentrate on your business – and sleep a bit more comfortably.
Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. Working remotely is slowly becoming “the new normal” and all companies should get ready for the work-from-home scenario.
If you need a hand, contact us or call: 855-924-1393 to see how we can help.
Here are some additional resources you can use:
Home Office Solutions
Infographic: Tips on Deploying a Remote Workforce
White Paper: The New Workplace Reality
About the Author
Lucie Hys is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at TPx. She is currently leading the marketing efforts for the company’s MSx suite of managed services. She has been working in marketing for more than 9 years, with the last four focusing on the cybersecurity industry. Lucie graduated with an MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University. In her spare time, she is an avid fitness enthusiast and a passionate traveler.
When I was a kid, I will never forget the first time I rode my bike to our local store that I had previously only been able to walk to. The wind in my face, the pavement moving so fast it was a blur. Not to mention how quickly I could get there…it was a HUGE difference! I never realized how slow walking was until I rode my bike.
Of course, I didn’t know it then, but looking back on it now I was experiencing what is known as a Quantum Leap. A Quantum Leap, according to Webster anyway, is an abrupt change, sudden increase, or dramatic advance. Riding my bike to the store versus walking was definitely all those things. I never ever looked at going to the store the same way. I certainly didn’t entertain the idea of ever walking to the store again. Why would I…I had my bike. Fast forward several decades, more of them than I would like to admit, and we have that same type of Quantum Leap going on in business communications.
Unified Communications is redefining how businesses respond, communicate, and service their clients, vendors, prospective customers, and everyone in between. Whether it is the power of a “I need help now” plea to a predefined group of contacts, the ability to effortlessly review a contract remotely with potential for a signature, or just being able to have your office phone “follow” you wherever you go, Unified Communications (UC) is changing the way we all do business. Just like my bike all those years ago changed my ease and ability to go to the store more quickly and efficiently, UC will DRAMATICALLY INCREASE the speed and efficiency you conduct your business. The Quantum Leap you will experience when upgrading to a BEST IN CLASS Unified Communications Solution like UCx will be one that you always remember.
Oddly enough, there are still a lot of you that are still “walking to the store” with your current communications set up. You are not convinced that this technology will help your business. You have no idea how much faster you could be going. There are others of you that may have tried “riding your bike”, only to find that the technology or company you chose didn’t get you where you wanted to be. Our award winning UCx Platform can help you overcome both of these. Just remember, until you make the move to UC, you won’t realize how slow you’ve been moving.
Here are just some of the solutions that will get you and your business into YOUR Quantum Leap:
Vermont recently passed a law that will provide a hefty incentive to anyone who moves to the state to work remotely for an out-of-state employer. The promise of living in the natural beauty of the Green Mountains, paired with a $10,000 grant, is certainly a compelling offer! But there’s even more to it than first meets the eye…
Remote Working is Here to Stay
First and foremost, Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant Program legitimizes working remotely. They’ve recognized that you don’t necessarily have to be based in a corporate office to work effectively – and they’re investing significant resources into the concept. As long as you’ve got the right tools at your disposal, you could work from anywhere, from Vermont to Versailles.
Attracting a Younger Generation
Another factor that came into play with the Vermont program was the demographics of the state’s existing residents. Their lawmakers knew full well that Vermont is a small state with an aging population, so they tried to think of new ways to entice younger people to live in the state. There’s a lesson here for businesses, too: Offering the ability to work remotely will attract younger “digital natives” who are already accustomed to collaborating online and using mobile devices on a regular basis. (Pairing it with a great incentive doesn’t hurt, either…)
How to Support Your Remote Workers – In Any State!
So, what should you do if one of your employees decides he wants to uproot himself, take the grant, and settle down in Vermont? To put it more generically: what’s the best way to support a remote worker? Here are a few tips for success:
- Establish new ways for employees to share information with each other. There is a whole new world of collaboration tools out there that make it easy to erase the barriers of distance. Internal chat tools with availability status info, one-click videoconferencing, and instant screen sharing are all easily employed today. An added bonus is that these will benefit all of your employees, not just those who are working remotely.
- Be sure to fully train your remote workers on these collaboration tools, so they’ll intuitively know how and when to use each feature. You could consider starting them off with a basic feature set, then migrate them to more advanced capabilities as their comfort level grows.
- Encourage work-life balance. Remember that an employee’s use of mobile devices doesn’t always translate into availability to work. In today’s always-on world, the ability to turn those apps and devices off is also important.
To learn more about these shifts in the modern workplace, check out TPx’s whitepapers on The New Workplace Reality and How the Cloud Stops Tech Tug-of-Wars.
About the Author
Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although she enjoys vacationing in Vermont, she has no plans to leave her home in the greater Boston area.
Graduation season is nearly upon us – and with it, a new wave of employees is entering the workforce. Generation Z, defined as those born in or after 1996, is now graduating from college and ready to join you in the office – and they’re bringing a whole lot of devices and tech gadgets with them.
It’s estimated that Gen Z’ers will make up 20% of the 2020 American workforce. Learn who they are and how they communicate so your company can successfully hire and retain these innovative digital natives. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z, our infographic covers each generation’s digital demands, along with:
- A breakdown of workplace age groups,
- Each group’s online habits,
- Their favorite communication tools, features, and more.
View the Full Infographic (PDF)
The manufacturing sector has come a long way from the iconic Bruce Springsteen world of rust-belt blast furnaces and factories belching smoke into the sky (“Youngstown,” anyone?). Today’s manufacturing is at the forefront of innovation in many ways: leading the way on green production, embracing smart-factory floors and optimizing supply chains with the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning. And true to that spirit of adopting future-thinking technology, unified communications (UC) is being increasingly deployed across the sector.
Collaboration is Crucial
Manufacturing, perhaps more so than many other industries, flourishes with strong collaboration. In-house teams, consultants, business partners and more have to communicate effectively in order to pull it all off profitably. UC offers invaluable tools to do just that – especially in the critical realm of supply-chain management.
Once the orders start to come in, it’s crunch time. Not delivering enough (or delivering too much) of a given product, without timely delivery or appropriate margins, kills companies and ideas, no matter how well-conceived the product or article in question may be. Yet, the processes required to create and assemble goods of all kinds – from smartphones and futons to cars and barbecue grills – have many stakeholders. One type of screw may be made in Taiwan, while another that goes into the same product might be churned out in Chicago. Somehow, all of the disparate parts need to be put together on a just-in-time basis to avoid margin-blowing over-production and waste. And when all of that’s done, the goods need to get into the hands of a network of vendors.
Multiple Channels for Multiple Scenarios
To better navigate both the upstream and downstream aspects of your supply chain, UC offers an omnichannel way to get answers when you need them. Whether you need to find out where a certain order is, double-check logistics with a supplier or verify shipments with a vendor, interactions become streamlined when voice, conferencing, instant messaging and presence can all work together. Some examples:
- When you need an answer right away, presence can alert you to who’s online with the answers you need, and the best way to reach them. This is especially useful for geographically diverse crews.
- Sometimes instant messaging is the best real-time channel for simple answers, but the ability to escalate a chat to a voice call is crucial for more in-depth conversations.
- Still, other times, you need to loop in other team members by expanding communications to a conference call.
- Suppliers, vendors, and customers alike can connect to you through online meetings with “guest join” capabilities. All meeting participants can use audio, video, and desktop sharing tools, with no software downloads required – it’s all done through the browser.
UC Delivers for Manufacturers ‘Just in Time’
UC accomplishes all of these functions – and more – seamlessly. And with cloud-based UC solutions like UCx, instant scalability allows manufacturing firms to expand and contract their communications virtually overnight. As a cloud-based service, UCx puts no limitations on your physical location – whether it’s your manufacturing team overseas or your distribution center in the U.S., all can be available on UCx to move products out the door. And with UCx, you get instant access to next-generation collaboration tools like HD video calls, screen sharing and CRM integrations. These features all add up to give your company a much-needed advantage in an increasingly competitive global market.
See It In Action
We’d love to show you all the ways UCx can help your manufacturing operations. Contact your TPx representative or schedule a demo today for details on how we can help you make your supply chain communicate more effectively, optimize your processes and, perhaps most importantly, solve problems faster.