When working from home suddenly became the “new normal”, many employees had to revert to mobile phones for inbound and outbound calling.
This brought unforeseen problems, including an increase in costs and heightened security and identity risks – but many businesses are unaware that the solution may be sitting unused on their desktop.
Many of the collaboration tools that have been adopted by companies during this period of lockdown can also provide public telephony service. But having been rolled out in haste, these additional services have in many cases not been unified.
Now is the time to fix this, as home working endures as part of the new normal.
Counting the cost of a hurried tech roll-out
One of the most widely used collaboration tools, Microsoft Teams, illustrates how businesses can benefit from unifying their communications systems. We discuss Microsoft Teams specifically here, but the same principles apply to many other collaboration and communication platforms.
Teams has seen a massive increase in usage, with a 775% increase and over 75 million active daily users since lockdown measures were implemented across the world. Many organisations have rapidly deployed Teams to enable employees to keep in touch with colleagues, while staying safe. At Atos, we saw some of our large government customers go from a few users in proof of concept groups to 20,000 users within days after lockdown.
Organisations are now facing the reality that it will be some considerable time before offices will revert back to ‘normal’ and a large proportion, if not all, colleagues will remain working at home for the foreseeable future even after lockdown ends.
What was a quick temporary fix in deploying Microsoft Teams is therefore becoming the long term solution. In many cases this solution was always the long-term strategy, but one which was not intended to be implemented at such pace and short notice.
As a result of this rapid roll-out, considerations on specific team configuration (based on user personas), detailed security and communication with customers and other external bodies were not always able to be considered in time. And several months later, many companies are feeling the effects of a considerable increase in their mobile phone costs, and focusing greater attention on the security aspects of working from home.
Switching from mobile to desktop
Without the ability to make and receive calls from within Microsoft Teams, and considering the fact that many office telephony systems cannot support large numbers of home workers, many people have resorted to using their mobile phones instead.
While this may have been an obvious solution for employees adjusting to new working conditions, it has significantly increased the cost of communications for organisations, and this could continue for some time.
Unified collaboration tools can provide a solution. For example, Microsoft Teams enables employees to make and receive calls with the appropriate setup, integrated with the existing phone system or using an alternative Microsoft calling plan or Direct Routing service and appropriate additional license. This delivers far lower costs, while also retaining the user’s phone number. This is particularly important for sensitive areas, such as victim support, social work, benefits or customer relations where providing a mobile phone number is not appropriate to protect the identity of the service user and professional.
Tools like this can provide an effective and efficient complete solution to increase productivity through improved collaboration and communication. It can be a simple and easy to use all-purpose dashboard for communication if aligned with team requirements and provides calling capabilities to customers and external bodies.
It’s important to consult the right, specialist help, before implementing communications and collaborations tools to ensure that you get the most out your solutions in the long term. Considering the ‘new normal’ and that many of us will be remote working for some time in the future, overlooking tech solutions which can provide for users’ precise needs and failing to provide calling capabilities will see a reduction in usage, productivity and a further increase in mobile phone costs.
Guest Blog by Neil Hollins, Business Development Manager – Government and Emergency Services, Atos Unify
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