Why successful Unified Communications must be addressed from both a technological and cultural perspective
Twitter, WhatsApp and other means of consumer service technology are becoming part and parcel of communicating at work alongside Unified Communications (UC) technologies. As a result, the boundaries between our work and personal lives are becoming increasingly blurred.
The benefits of this new connectivity are palpable, aiding productivity as employees can collaborate and complete tasks efficiently. Still, always-on connectivity isn't always a good thing - it can foster a culture where people feel pressured to be constantly engaged. It's easy to see how this can result in negative consequences, with some employees feeling unable to switch off during their own time, creating a feeling of burnout that prevents them from giving their best at work.
As such, it's important for businesses to strike the right balance. Technology is essential for the modern workplace, but its impact on workplace culture must be addressed too - no doubt good business depends on it.
Technology must work alongside culture
We carry our smartphones and, in many ways, take our work home with us. Access to emails and central corporate systems is now possible from anywhere, which can make disconnecting difficult.
Negotiating where technology fits in the workplace is important for every employer - a challenge that must be addressed head-on. Employers might consider defining when it's appropriate to respond to alerts - restricting communication on a weekend or after 7pm, for example. Recent legislation in France prevents employees from accessing emails outside of hours.
Flexible working is another approach that empowers staff to manage when and how best to use technology to get their work done effectively by giving them autonomy. To achieve this, however, a policy-led approach is vitally important.
Unified Communications are enhancing workflows
By tackling the subject of workplace culture as a priority, it becomes possible to focus on the benefits UC can bring. At a basic level, this can be transforming the conference call, as there should be no need to listen to monotonous connection music while waiting for other people to join.
Video conferencing, voice over IP telephony and speech recognition, instant transcription services and presence management are further UC capabilities that are streamlining operations and transforming the way we communicate. It's now easier than ever to arrange appointments, organise information and manage messages, which streamlines the admin that keeps employees at their desks or on phones long into the evening. The access of data on multiple devices, in a consistent format, focuses on driving growth while reducing the stress placed on employees to get ever growing to do lists complete.
Real-time collaboration is another benefit of using UC in the workplace, as collaborative documents can be hosted online. This reduces the number of drafts being shared back and forth and avoids an unfortunate worker needing to remain 'on call' in order to share around the latest version. This saves everyone time and ensures the correct information can be easily identified and accessed.
Working in this way and using technologies that appear invisible in their seamlessness makes it easier for teams to collaborate, as we move away from traditional office setups and flexible working becomes the norm. This is even more important because the next generation entering the job market are Generation-Z. They have grown up hyper-connected and, used to the urgency of digital communications, it has become interwoven into the fabric of their lives.
Yet, they must also be provided with an environment at work where it's okay to switch off. At a time when awareness around mental health is increasing, organisations must understand the role they play and not use technology to the detriment of employee wellbeing.
Ultimately, introducing UC technologies alongside a healthy business culture will ensure that it does not become overwhelming for employees. This will prevent burnout and, importantly, allow businesses to reap the full benefits of using integrated, UC in the workplace - powered, at heart, by people.
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