Over the last few years, hybrid and even fully remote workplaces have gone from the exception to the norm. People are working from home more often. Meetings are far more likely to be over a video or conference call than in person. Managers are struggling to keep the same level of visibility over their team’s performance that they have at the office.
Quite simply, the entire business communications landscape has been changed forever.
Very few of us had a communications strategy when we went remote. Now that things have settled more or less into a new normal, having one is more important than ever. To help you decide where to focus your strategic efforts, we’ve put together a list of the major ways hybrid workplaces are changing communications.
Some of these changes have already been normalized. Some are just beginning to come into play. Rest assured though, all of them will improve your hybrid workplace communications and help provide a better experience for your customers.
GREATER EMPHASIS ON MOBILITY
With employees now spread across multiple locations and home offices, it’s more critical than ever for hybrid workplaces to increase their communications mobility.
Gone are the days when you just had a desk phone and the coworkers walking by to worry about. Honestly I miss the simplicity of answering a call and there’s a 50% chance it’s a customer and a 50% chance it’s Shannon in accounting wanting to gossip.
Now, with numerous employees working in different ZIP codes on different devices, you need a whole new range of functionality to keep your comms running smoothly. Formerly nice-to-have features like call forwarding and mobile apps have become essential for staying connected with customers and coworkers.
On top of that, softphones like FluentStream’s WebPhone make it easy to answer calls, send texts, and manage your contacts right on your laptop. This allows even fully remote employees to be just as reachable as they would be sitting at the desk next to you.
As workplaces become less and less focused on the place where you work, businesses need to make sure they’re equipped with enough mobility features to stay at the top of their game.
INVESTMENT IN BETTER TECHNOLOGY
Throughout 2020, businesses all over the world realized their communications technology was woefully unprepared to meet the needs of a hybrid or even fully-remote workforce. Video conference and messaging apps needed to be implemented. Calls had to be routed to personal phones. Laptops took the place of entire offices.
As businesses review their communications tools for the long-term rather than quick fixes, they’re often realizing that even more upgrades are needed. All communications channels from phone calls to emergency notifications need to be streamlined and optimized for a hybrid workforce. Quite simply, a landline phone system is no longer going to cut it.
The next step is consolidation. Having all (or even most) of your communications on a single platform reduces costs and makes training a whole lot easier. Plus, as demand continues to grow for business communications services that can be used remotely, providers will continue introducing new products and features.
If a provider you like offers most of what you need at a great price, it can pay off immensely to switch now. That way the savings can offset the cost of your additional tools until the provider adds the last bit of functionality you need.
You can read even more about investing in better communications technology here.
NEW WAYS TO ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH
It’s easy to cultivate a welcoming presence at your office. A smile from your receptionist, some flowers on the front desk, offers of coffee and water 一 all an expected part of the business experience. With a hybrid workplace, when most (or even all) of your customer interactions are over phone or video, it’s much harder to add a personal touch.
But as we all know, that doesn’t mean customers demand that personal touch any less. Hybrid and remote businesses have had to get creative with how they deal with increased call volume, updating everywhere from website pages to their phone menus with new pictures and voice recordings.
More and more often, auto attendant menus are replacing a receptionist on incoming calls. Rather than being less personal, this actually allows for a much faster and more consistent experience for customers. An auto attendant makes sure your introduction is clear and friendly every time, explaining your options and current deals before sending callers exactly where they need to go.
Similarly, call queues have risen to the personalization challenge by playing custom promotional messages, giving customers the option to receive a call back instead of waiting, and even providing you with in-depth reporting on your team’s performance.
There are tons of other ways hybrid businesses have added personal touches to their communications, but they all tie back to the same point. Callers need to feel just as welcome as they would be stepping into your office.
REPORTING IS MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER
The rise of hybrid workplaces has created an explosive increase in the demand for communications reporting. The reason why isn’t hard to pinpoint.
When everyone is under the same roof, it’s easy as pie to walk around and make sure everyone is staying focused and productive. However, with more and more team members working from home or other offices, managers must rely on reporting tools to track their team’s performance.
With the right communications systems, you can even see the knitty gritty details like how many calls each of your reps is taking, their average call lengths, how often they let a call go to voicemail, how often they take a break from the queue, etc.
In fact, we at FluentStream take the increased need for reporting so seriously that we wrote a whole blog about how it can benefit literally any business. Check it out here.
MORE STRUCTURED EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION
When most of your team rarely (if ever) sees each other in person, consistently recognizing their efforts needs to be a priority. “Recognition” means much more than a canned “nice job” email response or a thumbs up emoji over Slack. It means an increase in feedback and recognition on both the micro and macro levels.
If they don’t already do so, managers should host one-on-one video calls with team members to go over individual performances and see where additional training may help. Your business should also have multiple ways for employees to report excellent work from each other and earn rewards. Birthdays, hiring anniversaries, big life events 一 all these and more should be posted in public channels so employees can congratulate each other.
Yes, these are all small acts of recognition on their own, but they go a long way towards making remote employees still feel like they’re part of a team.
Have more questions about how hybrid workplaces are changing business communications? Want to know how much better a VoIP system from FluentStream can make your customer experience? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 303-GO-CLOUD and selecting Option 1.