How hosted unified communications can help you manage extreme change

To say that COVID has changed the world of work is something of an understatement. The pandemic has transformed businesses in much the same way as scrambling transforms an egg.


So, what, exactly, has changed? Most obviously, lots of us are working from home, and a significant number will continue to work from home when the pandemic ends, at least some of the time. Employees have had a taste of a more family-friendly way of working, and employers can see potential savings in the longer term, so remote work isn’t going away.


Connected to that is digitisation. Commentators suggest that COVID has accelerated the take up of digital tools and services by between five and ten years. Many businesses are a lot further down the road to digital transformation today than they were back in February. Cloud-based computing and automation have helped to drive efficiency and smooth the transition to remote work.


And then there are changes to specific operations. Even businesses that didn’t do much online before COVID now have an app and an e-commerce site (or plan to soon). Supply chain management – and particularly the simplification and localisation of vulnerable supply chains – has become an urgent strategic challenge.


More widely, investors aren’t just looking at bottom lines and sales projections when deciding where to put their money anymore, they’re looking at resilience. When the next shock hits, will your business be properly equipped to keep going?


So, these are strange and anxious times, and businesses are having to manage a world in flux. Here are four tips for coping with extreme change.


Nurture resilience with hosted unified communications 

Resilience is, first of all, a mindset. During COVID’s first wave, many businesses quickly adopted agile methodologies, creating apps for online ordering, or pivoting to making PPE. They realised that the pandemic presented opportunities as well as risk, and acted quickly and decisively.


And resilience is also about having the right tools and an iterative approach. Can your staff work as effectively from home as they can from the office and, if not, what extra tools and services do they need and how will you assess the benefits for continual improvement?


Unified communications and collaboration tools are especially important for cross-functional teams who need to be able to work together effectively wherever they are. A good communications solution also provides the kind of powerful call centre features that ensure smooth and seamless customer interactions, whether your agents are in the office or at home.


Be an agile business


The ability to take quick and decisive action is also a feature of agile businesses, and agility can help companies manage extreme change. Businesses need to be able to grasp an opportunity when it occurs, and step back when it fades.


Again, UC solutions play a major role here. Cloud-based systems let companies scale their requirements up and down as market conditions dictate because they're not dependant on hardware that's on-site.

Hosted unified communications are especially flexible in this regard. Add temporary team members to cope with a seasonal sales spike. Exploit a gap in the market by quickly equipping new employees with the communications solution they need. You can add new users in a couple of clicks, divert calls to different numbers, access call recording and more, all through a single platform.


And if you open a new location, your hosted communications solution can be up and running in seconds. Without the need for desk phones or yards and yards of cabling, you can set up softphones on any desktop or laptop computer,  enabling you to maintain the high levels of service your customers expect and deliver the functionality your employees need, all without having to change phone numbers.


Don’t bet the farm


During periods of change, the last thing you want to do is put your cashflow in peril. Having cash in the bank to remain agile and cope with emergencies is a measure of resilience and a sensible consideration, no matter your industry.

At the same time, new digital tools help you thrive in difficult conditions, so there’s a circle here that needs squaring. You can do it by prioritising cost-effective, OpEx-based digital solutions.

A hosted phone system is OpEx by design. There are no upfront expenses and call costs are lower than traditional on-premise alternatives. You don’t host infrastructure, so there are no ongoing maintenance costs either.

With cloud-based communications from TalkTalk Business, pay-as-you-go pricing combined with our well-designed call bundles make costs easier to manage and also ensure you only ever pay for employees who use the service.


Stay up to date


Managing periods of extreme change means fully exploiting the technology you have. Cloud-based solutions like hosted unified communications are managed remotely, which means it’s down to your service provider to upgrade software and ensure everything is working smoothly. As well as freeing IT staff to get on with other tasks, it provides another advantage too: your service is always right up to date.

Unlike on-premise solutions, hosted communications services give you access to the latest features and functionality as soon as they’re released (and without you having to do a thing). That’s vital because with the most current technology at your disposal, your workforce will be able to communicate and collaborate more effectively, and ultimately your business will be all the more resilient for it.


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