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Insights for supporting the collaboration needs of the modern workplace

By John Rocca, Director, Technical Product Management 

Bell expert helps business modernize and digitally transform how they communicate so their employees can collaborate with each other anytime, anywhere.

By John Rocca, Director, Technical Product Management 

Over the past few years, I’ve seen significant changes in workplace collaboration that have introduced some interesting challenges and opportunities for businesses. Key among them is that most businesses now need to support multiple and distinct workstyles. A broad range of technologies can be required to empower employees to connect and collaborate from any location, using any device. With this evolution comes a huge amount of cloud-based voice and collaboration solutions available on the market to meet these needs. 

The specific requirements for supporting today’s diverse workstyles depends on where you are on your transformation journey. A cloud-based collaboration platform will let your teams connect and communicate from any location. This, however, can necessitate migrating your existing environment to the cloud, moving away from fixed telephony service to voice-over-IP technology, and many other sizeable steps.  

In my discussions with business leaders, I’ve heard a recurring set of questions around different working styles and how to address collaboration across those styles.  

Identifying the workstyles in your organization

Before we dig into those questions, it makes sense to identify the most common work styles. Many enterprise customers I have worked with have a mix of workstyles within their organization. These include:  

  • Remote and hybrid workers: Many employees now work fully from home or split their time between home and the office. They require cloud-based platforms to do so. These are typically knowledge workers, such as those in finance, marketing and other business functions who don’t need on-site access. 
  • Frontline workers: Employees who interface with and serve customers typically do so in person or by phone. This includes everything from retail associates and contact centre agents to healthcare workers and manufacturing operations personnel. 

  • Field and mobile workers: Employees who work in the field or on the road depend on mobile-responsive collaboration tools. Examples include construction workers and management consultants.  

Many businesses will face the challenge of meeting the technology requirements of all three workstyles. As you investigate the needs of your organization – and designing a solution that works for you – here are some of the questions I have encountered, and some considerations to keep in mind. 

How can I manage multiple vendors? 

Meeting the diverse collaboration needs of your organization will require the proper technology, a well-designed voice and collaboration solution, and the right expertise. Some businesses want to standardize voice and collaboration across their organization through a single application like Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex. But others want to keep voice separate due to certain workstyle needs, or they want a diversity of tech solutions for added business continuity assurance. 

Either approach is fine, but if you’re using multiple solutions from different vendors, it helps to find a partner who can offer assistance and manage them all. This can make implementation and integration a lot smoother and minimize overall complexity. 

During migration, how can I minimize disruption to our operations?  

As you manage the migration to your solution it will be important to work with a proven methodology for technology change management and end user adoption, with a strong foundation in reliability. There is no need to migrate every site or worker at the same time. You can do so in sequence, prioritizing certain workstyles and or sites to minimize downtime.  

How can I ensure my solution is reliable and secure? 

When selecting a solution, a design principle of reliability and security is a must. Security, redundancy and business continuity should be considered at the earliest stages of solution design. Otherwise, your business runs the risk of being vulnerable to cyberattacks or losing critical communications capabilities during a crisis.

What about AI?

AI promises to further support the effectiveness of the modern workstyle. Companies from Cisco to Google to Microsoft are all developing AI tools for their existing platforms – or as add-on features to other solutions. Some of these features include text-to-speech for IVR, simultaneous translations, capturing meeting minutes and more. All of these are attractive and can help promote efficiency in your workplace. Like any new solution, it’s important to engage your security and legal teams. 

Finding the right expertise  

When deciding what the best voice and collaboration tools might be for your business, it takes expertise to balance feedback from multiple potential vendors and service partners, many of whom will have conflicting ideas about adapting your teams’ work habits to optimize their own solution’s specific features. The ideal scenario is a single partner who understands your business and its needs and who offers a variety of solutions that can work together to meet each of them. All the while, that partner can advise you on solution implications for everything from reliability, voice quality, AI, and security, to key details like 911 access.  

Your business is likely to support multiple workstyles based on the different roles in your workforce. Keeping those roles productive can mean small, integrated changes, or it can mean introducing significant technology improvements and updates to your existing infrastructure. Either way, I recommend going with experts who can truly absorb your current voice, collaboration and contact centre environment while helping you assess, plan, design and implement new solutions in a reliable manner. 

Our teams here at Bell support a number of premise and cloud-based solutions, working closely with industry leaders such as Microsoft and Cisco. I'm proud of the reputation we've built for security and reliability. To support that, I've always prioritized understanding each company's unique mix of working styles before building or recommending a solution to align to those specific needs. 

In the end, it isn't about a solution – it's about making sure everyone has the ability to excel, whatever their work style. 

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