As the workforce evolves and Millennials continue to comprise a vast majority of the workforce the need for organisations to become more flexible is becoming more pronounced. Millennials have a different approach to the work-life balance most working people in the Baby Boomer and other generations hold.
For starters, Millennials would bargain for flexible hours, while Baby Boomers would rather stick to the old 9-5 routine. Millennials also prefer to work remotely every now and then, while Baby Boomers would tirelessly go to the office, day in and day out. You can easily spot Millennials in the office as they would opt to wear casual and smart casual clothing, while Baby Boomers would persist going to the office in the normal business attire.
At first, the two diverse groups found themselves clashing at every turn. Yet as more and more Millennials joined the workforce, it quickly becomes obvious that businesses would have to be flexible in order to make the most out of them. Now, with two such different approaches to work-life balance how do you keep both parties happy, productive and communicating efficiently.
For small, medium or large sized businesses user-friendly, intuitive communications are the answer.
What is unified communications?
Unified communications refers to the term used to describe the seamless integration of communication tools that facilitate better collaboration and productivity in the office. Through unified communications, companies can harness synchronous and asynchronous communication, whichever method they need the most.
Synchronous communication refers to communication tools that allow two or more people to communicate seamlessly wherever they are, at the same time. This refers to communication tools such as video conferencing and video calls.
On the other hand, asynchronous communication means users are able to send and receive messages at their convenience, replying to their contemporaries at the time of their choosing. An example of this is emailing and instant messaging.
Now, what does all these mean for small businesses and unified communications? Through unified communications, small businesses are able to combine these two techniques in a sophisticated manner, so that users are able to work wherever they are without compromising the integrity of the communication tool. All members of the team are able to work their optimum best, and are able to multitask while producing exemplary results.
Unified communications can help businesses through the following settings:
- In traditional office environments, with employees routinely glued to their computers or laptops. Unified communications can be integrated on their desk phones or VoIP phones, as well as individual webcams on their devices.
- Conference rooms equipped with a speakerphone, a camera system, a shared display system, or even something as simple as a smart TV synched to a laptop with VoIP capabilities.
- Employees that are constantly on the go, such as project managers and account managers, who are working from mobile devices such as tablets or their own smart phones, and are harnessing the audio and video capabilities of their devices.
- More and more small businesses using unified communications to collaborate and communicate with other offices and branches across the world.
Unified communications combine several communication tools and systems that streamline the process for all involved parties. Employees can use functions such as instant messaging and call their colleagues from their desktops and right at their own workstations, without having to get up and walk across the room or up or down several floors.
All these conveniences translate to more savings for the company as the employees are therefore maximising their time by being productive. It is very clear therefore how small businesses can benefit from unified communications, but what makes it all the more appealing for most businesses is how it improves collaboration, which in turn improves productivity. How so? When people work in a collaborative setting, they are more motivated to come up with good ideas so that the meeting will be conducive, while at the same time wanting to prove to their colleagues that they have a good idea. As a result, this friendly, collaborative environment fosters friendly competition while at the same time bringing out the best in everyone.
Yet that’s not the only reason that unified communications are being embraced by small businesses. When you factor in the benefits of video conferencing, you’ll see what makes it a viable business investment.
What makes video conferencing beneficial?
Video conferencing refers to a live, visual connection between at two or more people who are in different locations. This is made possible by telecommunication technologies that allow the two people to communicate seamlessly through both video and audio transmissions.
Simply put, think of it as conversing with someone using the telephone, but instead of just hearing the person’s voice, you would also see their facial expression and gestures. These visual cues are important, considering that communication isn’t a linear method. By being able to see and hear the person you are communicating with, you are therefore leaving no room for misinterpretation and each message gets clearly across.
Aside from ensuring that the message gets across, there are other numerous benefits for small businesses that use unified communications, particularly video conferencing.
Before we go into the benefits however, it is worth reiterating that Millennials are big on sharing ideas and collaboration, which in turn is good for your business because this means your employees are constantly looking to streamline processes and ensure that your products are the best of the best. By fostering a collaborative environment, you will constantly push your employees to think outside the box and come up with more creative executions and ideas. What’s more, since they are collaborating with their peers through video conferencing, you are reducing the need for your workers to congregate at just a given place. You can have your employees from different offices go online at a certain time and coordinate with each other then, paving the way for a greener and more affordable collaboration.
That being said, the benefits small business that use unified communications can get from video conferencing are as follows:
- Affordable collaboration
Most startup owners spend majority of their time flying to and fro one office to the other. The number of times we’ve heard how executives are spending majority of their time in airports than in their offices is astounding. Yet once you embrace unified communications, you can reduce this practice, if not eradicate it completely. After all, video conferencing enables you and your employees to effectively communicate wherever you are, at any given time. All of you are using your own devices, and you only need you an Internet connection to make it work. There is no new software or hardware to learn. The bottom line, therefore, is that you are able to communicate effectively with your team while reducing your travel expenses, travel time, and greenhouse emissions, giving you time and energy to focus on other things than checking if everyone is up to speed.
- Support for remote workers
Small businesses that use unified communications can attest how using unified communications enable them to support each and every one of their employees, even when the business is in a staggered setting with remote workers. Video conferencing then allows all members of the team — regardless of where they are located physically — to communicate with everyone else and exchange information, giving remote workers the feeling that they are not alone.
- Productivity booster
A key component to video conferencing is how it enhances productivity, given its very flexible nature. When teams are able to meet face-to-face, team members are more motivated to do more and to meet a common goal, which in turn increases your productivity rate.
- Mobile workforce enablement
Remember how we mentioned Millennials want flexibility to do more while on the go? This is made possible by small businesses on unified communications for the simple reason that unified communications is also compatible with most devices. For this reason, it is an inexpensive and an essay way for remote workers to communicate with others using their own devices. In fact, many startups are now promoting the bring your own device system into the workforce, which allows employees who want to work in their own homes to use their own devices. Of course, they will be allocated office computers if they do come in for work, but at least the employees will have that option should they want to work offsite.
- Access to latest educations and learnings in remote areas
Finally, imagine having to train every single member of your team on a new capability or a new service. Oftentimes, CEOs would send in their trainers on a tour-around-the-world, or at least per office. The trainers would then have to invest a substantial amount of time to travel to each office, train the employees, and fly to the next destination. Through video conferencing, this need is eradicated, as you can simply train remote teams where they are without the need to fly in anyone.
To sum it up, small businesses using unified communications are seeing a changed business landscape through video conferencing in the following ways: it allows for a more affordable collaboration, enhances productivity, enables a mobile workforce, provides support for remote workers, and gives all employees access to the latest educations and the latest in the industry, regardless of where they may be.
Benefits of video conferencing:
- Affordable collaboration
- Support for remote workers
- Enhance productivity
- Mobile workforce enablement
- Access to the industry’s latest trends and changes