What does flexibility mean to you? Is it more time away from the office? Is it fewer in-person meetings? Or perhaps it’s simpler — empowerment for how and where you get work done. Recent research found that more than three in four office-based employees want to continue remote working in the wake of the pandemic. In that case, flexibility also means greater reliance on technology for communication and collaboration.
This presents particular challenges for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), which employ more than 70% of the global workforce. These businesses were among the hardest hit by Covid-19, and must now embrace digitalization to keep employees happy and connected, and to provide customers with outstanding experiences.
Fortunately, best-in-class technologies are no longer the preserve of large enterprises with big budgets. That’s because cloud hosting has made it possible for businesses of any size to access powerful, integrated solutions with the convenience of software-as-a-service deployment. Cloud solutions can be adopted with no hardware costs and no upfront investment — just a simple price-per-user fee to pay every month.
4 flexible workplace trends
As hybrid working becomes the norm, SMBs need cloud-hosted tools more than ever to help them navigate four key trends in the flexible workplace:
1. Empowered employees
Who is the empowered employee? They are autonomous decision-makers, self-managers, and above all, flexible workers. Workers have become accustomed to establishing their own work setups and patterns. They now expect flexible online communication systems as a workplace staple. Whether operating from home, from the office, from a store, or from a service site, they want the same seamless communications experience.
2. Digital proliferation
Nine in ten SMBs have increased their reliance on technology in the past two years. They’ve adopted cloud phone systems, video conferencing software, online event platforms, and a host of other digital tools to facilitate remote working. Now, SMBs need to consolidate these communication tools so that they spend less time on IT management and troubleshooting, and more time delivering a better experience for employees and customers.
3. Low-touch interaction
Less is more. Within businesses, there has been a transition to low-touch, remote processes, with minimal face-to-face meetings or interaction. Continuing this trend, research indicates that 25% of SMBs are looking to shrink their office footprint to create a hybrid workplace. That means business owners and IT teams must continue to invest in low-touch-friendly tools that simplify admin tasks and enhance productivity for a distributed workforce.
4. Proactive not passive collaboration
Productivity has always relied on effective collaboration. In the world of flexible working, the nature of collaboration has changed. It has become more proactive and interactive, which means employees need integrated productivity tools, screen sharing, group messaging, chat tools, and availability updates, if they are to collaborate effectively in the hybrid environment. And these tools need to be accessible wherever employees are working.
Empower flexible workers with the right technology
As SMBs adapt their digital infrastructure for long-term flexible working, there is one technology solution that can help address all of these emerging trends — unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
UCaaS cloud-based technology brings together all essential communication and collaboration channels — including phones, video meetings, and messaging — and unites them onto a single application that can be managed centrally. It enables colleagues to access every communication channel easily on their desktop or mobile app, wherever they are. As well as accelerating digital transformation by providing instant access to easy-to-deploy tools, UCaaS also integrates with existing systems to create a joined-up tech stack for the flexible workplace.
Discover the power of UCaaS
To discover how UCaaS can provide your business with the unified communications and collaboration infrastructure it needs, download our e-book Maxing the ‘Unified’ in UC. It sets out the key challenges for SMBs in the flexible working world and demonstrates how UCaaS technology can simplify communications delivery, save time and effort for IT support, improve productivity, and unlock growth through continuous improvement.