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Communications shape the changing workplace
August 14th, 2017

Communications shape the changing workplace

Ian Linton

Today’s workplace is characterized by high levels of flexibility and mobility. So how can communications help ensure this new workplace is successful?

Today’s workplace is characterized by high levels of flexibility and mobility. Fixed workspaces are no longer essential as employees choose to work in a location of their own preference.

What keeps people together and enables them to work with colleagues is a set of communication and collaboration tools like VoIP or Unified Communications (UC). Thanks to the global reach of those tools, the workplace can be anywhere with an Internet connection.

Anywhere is a workspace

That’s not to say the traditional office has no future, or the desk phone is redundant. Both have a role to play but they are just part of a bigger picture.

Take the office as an example. Forget the perception of fixed desks and phones tied to a cable network. That disappeared a long time ago. The deployment of IP phones gave employees the freedom to work anywhere in the building. Hot desking had its day too. But, those developments gave a glimpse of the future.

Without the restrictions of a fixed phone system, employees could work anywhere. It might be a desk, a small huddle room, or a quiet meeting space. If there’s room for a tablet or laptop, that’s a workspace. Even a smartphone is sufficient. But, if employees want to work from a desk in the office, the latest desk phones feature multimedia communications easily controlled from large touchscreens.

Flexible working changes the rules

The demand for flexible working is also changing the workplace. Mobile devices and the features available through VoIP and UC means employees no longer have to spend 9-5 in the office every day. They could choose to work from home, occasionally or full time, and remain in contact. Some might prefer to work in a remote location or a shared workplace.

With that level of flexibility, employers no longer have to rely on recruiting local talent, and employees can choose their dream employer, regardless of location.

For some businesses, the concept of a full-time workforce is proving unnecessary. Instead, they put together a virtual team of freelancers, contractors and part-time employees based anywhere in the country, or in the world.

Collaboration is essential

Because the workplace is now so flexible, collaboration has become even more important. Not just for teams who need to work together, but for any employee that wants to maintain contact, work efficiently and contribute to the business.

A simple meeting via video conference helps keep remote employees together and eliminates any sense of isolation they might feel. Collaboration tools that offer screen sharing can help people work together efficiently, share ideas, provide feedback and make decisions as if they are in the same room.

New working patterns

The integration of cloud-based business applications with communications is changing the way employees work. For example, UC solutions like Microsoft Skype for Business integrate with Office 365. Employees can launch calls and collaboration sessions directly from their business apps, and they can do that on any device.

That integrates communication with key business processes, blurring the boundaries and helping to put productivity, efficiency, and collaboration as the defining features of the modern workplace.

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