IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

5 Ways UC Makes Managing Remote Workers Easier

Today’s workforce trends make unified communications a rising star in the business community. By Wayne Landt

As a value-added reseller or msp, you want to give your clients solutions that meet their business needs today and for years to come. That’s why it’s important to understand workplace trends and other factors that might influence their decision when replacing a PBX with a unified communications (UC) solution.

Telecommuting and the growing mobile workforce are perfect examples of those business changes. Both trends are impacting organizations today and will likely continue to influence their technology buying decisions in the future.

Telecommuting presents several unique challenges to businesses, particularly those with a distributed workforce. Common management concerns when employees work from home or alternate sites include maintaining high productivity levels and keeping people engaged with co-workers and customers. Without the proper tools in place, a remote workforce can create headaches for everyone involved.

Fortunately, UC has features that can help businesses avoid those problems. Channel pros who take advantage of them get to be the hero with their clients by giving them the tools they need to manage remote workers successfully.

1. Integrated Voice, Video, and Chat

Communicating with people is a necessity for most employees, even when they’re not at their desk. To be productive, employees need to be easily available to others and have multiple ways of communicating no matter where they’re located. UC solutions that provide voice, video, and chat capabilities can give employees that accessibility whether they’re working at company headquarters, from the road, or at home.

2. Presence and Status Information

In a typical work environment, managers see their subordinates walking in the door in the morning, sitting in on meetings, and moving about the office. When employees are telecommuting, however, managers lose that visual confirmation or connection. UC solutions with presence and status functionality, however, enable them to see when workers are in the office, engaged in a task, on a phone call, or away from their desk.

3. Customized “Ring Rules”

Some telecommuters work remotely only part of the time, meaning they may be at a company location on some days but off-site, working from home, at a client’s office, or somewhere else on others. Having flexibility to establish different rules for how and when their phone rings based on where they are can help them stay appropriately connected at all times.

That’s where modern UC solutions, which allow employees to set up customized “ring rules,” come in. For example, a worker could have calls automatically redirected to the home office on Fridays and to his or her mobile phone on Tuesdays, when that employee is usually out visiting customers.

4. Activity Reporting

Managers with a distributed workforce need to know that their team members are actively engaged in their work. A UC system can help here too, by generating reports that show how many calls each employee placed, how long those conversations lasted, and other metrics managers can use to assess the productivity of their remote workers.

5. Customer Satisfaction Reporting

Reports can also help managers keep tabs on remote workers with critical responsibilities for ensuring an excellent customer experience. For example, a good UC solution can automatically generate a daily, weekly, or monthly report that shows the level of activity for each employee, as well as key customer satisfaction metrics such as customer wait times, abandoned calls, and average talk time.

Based on work preference trends, the number of telecommuters, remote workers, and mobile workers is only going to grow in the future. Channel pros are well positioned to understand the remote management pain points their customers are experiencing and help educate them on how the right UC solution can alleviate, or mitigate, the management challenges they’re facing.

WAYNE LANDT is director of worldwide channel sales at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class unified communications.

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