The nature of the modern workplace isn't changing – it's already changed. Over the past few years, countless companies have embraced a decentralized strategy, employing remote workers and maintaining geographically separated satellite offices. There's a very good reason why this approach has gained such popularity in a relatively short period of time: By embracing decentralization, businesses can expand their potential employee pools, finding the ideal workers rather than being limited to local options. This strategy also enables firms to maximize efficiency in terms of rental costs, utilities and other typical costs of doing business.
"Companies need a robust, well-considered approach to maximize their UC results."
But there are undeniable complications inherent to this trend. Perhaps most notably, the lack of person-to-person interaction can have a negative effect on employee relationships, job satisfaction and company loyalty. One of the best ways to overcome these obstacles is the adoption of high-quality unified communications solutions. When used successfully, these resources have the potential to unite colleagues despite their disparate locations. However, achieving this goal is easier said than done. Companies need a robust, well-considered approach to maximize their UC results.
UC for long-distance
One of the reasons why UC is so valuable for these decentralized work arrangements is because of the very nature of human communication, as Forbes contributor George Bradt recently highlighted. Bradt pointed to a recent study in The Journal of Marketing that examined how geographically diverse families maintain their traditions and rituals. While the focus was obviously unrelated, the results of this study were exceedingly relevant for businesses. The research determined that the majority of all communication is derived from body language, with a significant portion coming from the individual's tone while the actual words accounted for a relatively small percentage.
As the writer explained, this has significant implications for businesses employing remote workers and satellite offices. Too often, business leaders and their employees rely on email for the vast majority, or even the entirety, of their communication. While this is fine for conveying basic information, it is far from ideal when it comes to more complex tasks, and it certainly falls short in terms of encouraging richer employee relationships.
UC solutions can address this issue. With a robust UC system in place, employees can easily reach out to one another via video conferencing, instant messaging, voice and more, choosing whichever channel is ideal for a given situation. For example, Bradt suggested companies encourage employees to rely on SMS and email to convey basic information, phone calls and audio conferencing for more in-depth discussions and video conferencing for more persuasive discussions.
The writer further recommended that business leaders develop creative ways to use UC technology to ensure that geographically separated team members can contribute to group events. Doing so will improve employee engagement and team spirit, both of which are critical for achieving a high job satisfaction and retention rate.
For all of the benefits highlighted above, though, it is important for business leaders to realize that UC can only deliver these results when it is actually utilized by employees. This may seem like an obvious point, but the fact of the matter is that many UC systems go unused or underutilized by workers.
There are a few reasons why this tends to happen. As No Jitter contributor Blair Pleasant highlighted, one of the most common is simply a lack of training. She noted that end-users often do not know how to make use of the various features offered on a given UC system. This is true even when the UC tools seem extremely intuitive and user-friendly – the solutions will still seem intimidating and foreign initially.
"Without training, even tech-savvy personnel will fail to take full advantage of UC resources."
That is why organizations hoping to use UC tools as a means of encouraging collaboration among employees need to ensure that every end-user receives robust training. Without training, even tech-savvy personnel will be more likely to fail to take full advantage of these resources. Instead, they'll rely on the more familiar options available to them, such as email and the occasional phone call. Yet as Bradt emphasized, this will lead to suboptimal communication and relationships among workers.
By training users to utilize UC tools, business leaders can take a powerful step toward maximizing the value and utility of these resources.