By Hemilton Manika, Regional Chief Commercial Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies
One of the phrases that emerged in the last two years as more companies adopted remote working was ‘the new normal.’ At the time, most of us took that to mean that – along with having to wear masks and sanitise our hands at every opportunity – businesses that found they could continue operations on a remote working basis would continue to do so in perpetuity.
Considering that lockdown levels have lowered, many companies insist that their workforce returns to the office. This is because there’s a level of creativity and collaboration that isn’t possible outside the workplace. This is partially true, as is the counter-argument that remote working increases productivity, which is why many businesses are combining the benefits of both remote and office working.
THE HYBRID WORKING ENVIRONMENT
The ‘Hybrid Working Environment’ is becoming common in many companies, reaping significant benefits from this new model. For example, businesses can right size based on a cost perspective; the morale of their employees is maintained, and costs for real estate and maintenance of office premises are lowered.
Another benefit of the Hybrid Working model is talent pool expansion; businesses can choose local talent or source from a global workforce.
Because of remote working, companies are no longer limited to contracting employees in any specific geographical region. Rather than just being limited to hiring within the geographic area of operations, there is a growing trend in looking for the correct talent beyond borders.
As a result of this model, it is easier for businesses with the intent of expanding into other African countries to hire the right talent. Additionally, it also ensures that organisations can consider talent across broader and diverse technology backgrounds. This approach is more cost-effective, and it also helps the organisation take advantage of local business knowledge and tap into global experiences and skillsets.
The Hybrid Working Environment has added benefits for the work force. Splitting work time between an office and home allows for a better work/life balance as well as cutting down on time spent on lengthy commutes (as well as the cost of fuel and wear and tear on vehicles). It gives employees the freedom to manage their work hours efficiently, providing the opportunity to participate in training and learning activities. Employers who adopt a policy for continuous learning can bolster their employees’ aptitude around workplace learning as well as getting them to apply what they’ve learned. Furthermore, a hybrid working model future-proofs businesses and their employees against the pandemic as pivoting from a hybrid model to one where employees work exclusively on a remote basis is easier as all the infrastructure and work-practices are in place.
THE RIGHT TOOLS
However, hiring the right talent is only half the battle! Organisations need to ensure that the right talent pool has access to the right tools. Lack of access to the right tools means that employees will not be able to work effectively. A vital ingredient of a successful hybrid model is access to digital technologies like the cloud.
Over the years, intelligent technologies like cloud, IoT, or SD-WAN have enabled better collaboration and improved productivity. Not being confined to a specific desk, phone, or computer screen, employees have the freedom to share their skills and pursue new opportunities from any location with nothing but access to a device and high-speed connectivity.
Collaboration is vital to keep efficiency at the highest in remote working, and companies should gravitate towards a provider who can offer a multitude of cloud-native collaboration solutions.
Migrating voice functionality to the cloud brings flexibility, stability, and security as it becomes part of a business’s cloud infrastructure. It offers a myriad of benefits to any business operating in a hybrid working environment. Users can be assigned a fixed number across all their devices and thus be reachable no matter where they are geographically or what device they happen to have at hand – a kind of ‘landline on the move’. They can also move seamlessly between devices, bringing the value of true convergence. Employees are always contactable, encouraging collaboration, which drives their engagement and productivity.
A cloud-based voice platform also offers more resilience and fewer interruptions to business continuity thanks to its provider’s cyber security measures and reliable connectivity; businesses are less likely to find their employees unable to dial into important conference calls or suffer downtime because of hacking. In addition, customers will always be able to contact a business, which means there’s no loss of sales and revenue. On top of that, any upgrades for software maintenance and infrastructure are moved to a service provider, saving further costs; service leverage agreements (SLA) ensure that service providers are on hand to assist with support, continuity and expansion plans.
The best collaboration offerings should furnish users with a versatile, reliable platform and host as many devices as possible. As a Microsoft Gold partner, Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ OneVoice for Operator Connect is a contemporary unified communications vehicle pioneering the hybrid working environment in Africa.
In the last two years, we have noted that organisations have finally embraced technology, and this is a key win for the future of work. Businesses finally adopting cloud for their operations have empowered them to reimagine how they work. For the first time, organisations are not limited in where they hire their talent pool, so they should make sure that the right tools are in place to create the hybrid model, which is planned and well-executed and not treated as an experiment that is short-lived.