Gradually, we will all have to return to our regular work routine and simultaneously battle the ongoing pandemic. As we transition into the new normal, companies must adapt to new health and safety regulations while maintaining regular organizational functions.
This means having to be more cautious, more sanitized and more prepared to ride out the pandemic than ever. Ensuring business continuity will be key as companies emerge from the hiatus enforced by COVID-19.
Because even as lockdowns ease, the threat of COVID-19 persists. Remote working will therefore continue to be relevant until a vaccine for the virus becomes available.
With that, we expect to see more flexible working arrangements and collaboration modes. And consequently, a corresponding rise in the adoption of collaboration platforms and technologies to power the post-coronavirus lockdown experience. They include the examples below:
1) Unified communications and collaboration platforms
With a reduced number of employees allowed into the post-lockdown workplace at any point in time, unified communications (UC) solutions have emerged as one of the key technologies that are helping companies transition into the new normal.
UC platforms are nothing new and many companies were already using them long before the pandemic hit. Essentially, they provide and combine multiple enterprise communication channels such as voice, video, team messaging and content sharing. This may include the control, management and integration of these channels. UC products and services can also be integrated with networks and systems, IT applications and in some cases, consumer applications and devices.
But despite the key benefits that they bring – such as increased productivity and cost savings, and a reduction in human latency – having a robust UC infrastructure was seen more as a “nice-to-have” than a “must-have”.
Then overnight, UC pillars such as remote conferencing and collaboration became business necessities to connect displaced employees.
Since UC platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex allow organizations to consolidate several communication tools within a single platform, they are extremely useful for managing dispersed teams or for organizations with multiple locations.
This urgent and abrupt shift to UC has created a new level of expectation that employees will be able to continue working at any time, and from anywhere. And it is unlikely that we will go back to the way things were now, especially as employees adapt and incorporate these new ways of working into their workflow.
Surely, it is no exaggeration to say that these new models of working have become foundational in the new norm and look likely to remain so well into the future.
2) Cloud Voice or cloud telephony solutions
In the thick of the coronavirus crisis, another solution that quickly gained importance was Cloud Voice or Voice over Internet Protocol telephony (VoIP). While UC facilitates enterprise-wide communications, VoIP focuses on internet-based calling. Typically, the voice part of UC system is powered by a VoIP platform.
As organizations rolled out remote working setups across multiple geographies, cloud calling solutions such as Cisco Webex Calling and Microsoft Calling became integral in keeping workforces, clients and partners connected.
Cloud Voice services within the UC and collaboration stack improves user experience in a multitude of ways. For one, they reduce the complexity of managing multiple carriers and the need to switch between applications. This accelerates conversations and provides better productivity in the workplace.
The real highlight, however, lies in its ability to interconnect organizations with their IP, PBX and contact center or UC platform to the telephony world while reducing costs.
Because Cloud Voice replaces the need for conventional telephone systems like the PBX, it frees companies from the burden of buying, storing and maintaining standalone hardware like PBX boxes and handsets.
In addition, Cloud Voice is completely flexible and lets organizations scale up or down the number of lines and features according to their needs. All this without the need for employees to be in any defined location
Beyond that, the adaptable and scalable nature of Cloud Voice perfectly fits the growing demand for flexibility and decentralized offices and teams in the new normal. It is for these reasons that Cloud Voice or cloud calling services will be one of the key technologies that will enable the transition.
3) Virtual events solutions
With the COVID-19 recovery timeline still at stake, there’s never been a more urgent need for companies to develop an effective and well-rounded communications strategy.
These include internal communication functions such as regular staff presentations, leadership announcements and town-hall meetings. Especially with so much uncertainty in the mix, organizational leaders must recognize the need to continuously engage and strengthen overall connection with employees.
In addition, recognizing and addressing core emotions of distress and anxiety in the workplace is an opportunity to strengthen organizational health, productivity and talent retention in the long run.
Of course, there is also a need to communicate externally and to larger groups. These may include webcasts, industry-wide conferences, and online trade shows and award ceremonies to reach out to investors, clients and extended audiences.
However, as new social distancing measures and safety restrictions continue to put in-person gatherings out of the question, many more physical events will shift to virtual environments or be adapted into online formats.
This is where virtual environments will come in to help companies achieve goals that were once met by live events and conferences. These virtual solutions make it possible to continue delivering the benefits of face-to-face meetings, while maximizing their reach and impact.
Now is the time for companies to revisit their communication strategies to enable the continuity of these events with minimal reliance on physical gatherings. Event design and delivery will therefore undergo some pretty significant changes, with virtual solutions at the center of the transformation.
Overcoming uncertainties in the new normal
At this juncture, it seems that collaboration and communication practices will not return to what they were in February 2020, before the pandemic took hold. This comes especially as vastly increased remote working and digital engagements become the norm.
As we come to terms with the new normal, it is important to monitor any longer-term changes that may significantly alter our collective future. Or whether collaboration methods or events platforms will undergo any permanent impact.
For now, it is time to explore and experiment with new technologies and solutions to prepare to be virtual-ready in 2020 and beyond.
Are you prepared for the future of work?
Digital transformation is no longer a buzzword – it is now a prerequisite in the new norm. Is your organization prepared for the transition? Do you need assistance now to help set up a post-lockdown workplace?
To learn more about how your organization can benefit from the new ways of working through cloud communications solutions, click on the link below or contact us today.