Improve remote collaboration

How Businesses Can Improve Remote Collaboration

2020 may have been the year when everything stopped, but where our working lives are concerned, the health crisis has rocketed us into the future. While many businesses were looking towards at least some remote work by 2025, around 72% of companies have now made the shift with 66% considering redesigning the workplace to accommodate hybrid working practices.

This might feel like progress, but with countless companies having to become remote quite literally overnight, not all switches ran smoothly. Collaboration has proven especially problematic, with issues such as:

  • A 75% reduction in team cohesiveness
  • 55% of employees struggling with a lack of face-to-face communication
  • 40% of people reporting mental health declines
  • Disjointed communications as 84% of users lose access to applications at least once a week

With communication capabilities shaping organisations, managers are obviously keen to overcome these issues. Luckily, as the remote success enjoyed by companies like Google shows, when done well, long-distance teams can be a blessing rather than a curse. The question is, how can you get past these hurdles to start enjoying that green business grass?

Step 1: Move Collaboration Into the Cloud

Many collaboration setbacks come down to one thing — poor integrations. For many teams, the speed with which remote work has become necessary has meant the continued use of outdated systems, and it shows. But there’s no reason to stay stuck, especially not while cloud-based remote collaboration tools take the working world by storm.

Platforms like Microsoft Teams are at the heart of countless remote operations right now, and their cloud capabilities play an undeniable role in bringing ease to communications. All of this is hardly surprising given that, at its core, cloud computing provides pretty much everything necessary for successful remote communications, including:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Simplified communication
  3. Business scalability
  4. Real-time integrations

These are benefits you simply won’t find from slow communication on unsecured and largely unmonitored email accounts. Even outside of the collaboration-specific sphere, the cloud is making itself known, with applications like Office 365 (to name just one) enjoying an amazing 21% growth this year. There’s simply no denying that the cloud is central right now.

Strategies To Help

The good news is that you’re truly spoilt for choice when thinking about which cloud to migrate to. That said, as we’ll discuss later, such a wide choice isn’t always a good thing. In fact, the hasty implementation of too many cloud-based tools can worsen disjointed communications. 

That’s why it’s important you get this right the first time. After all, migration might not be the extreme undertaking it once was, but moving your entire business infrastructure can still be a risky feat, and too many tools only enhance that risk of setbacks as data and communication travel in many different directions. To make sure you get this right, it’s therefore fundamental that you consider essentials such as:

  • Your team (age, needs, location, etc.)
  • Your current operations (specifically the tools you use)
  • Your existing data
  • Your future KPIs (especially relating to the cloud)

Step 2: Simplify Access and Consolidate Workflows

Collaboration tools used right can boost productivity by 32%, and the cloud certainly plays a huge part in that. But this year has led to something of a collaboration scrabble as companies try to implement the most inclusive remote solutions, often with a one-of-many approach. It’s a mistake that many teams are paying for.

As well as leading to disjointed communications that frustrate and delay, too many tools can result in the access issues reported by 84% of employees. By comparison, one central tool implemented well can see your team communicating with as much ease as they would in the office.

The trouble is that few tools offer a complete collaboration package. For example, Zoom is great for video conferencing, but lacks sophisticated chat or file sharing. Dropbox is perfect for file sharing, but little else. As such, simplification largely lies in looking for the most comprehensive package and taking pains to enhance the features on offer.

Suggested Reading: Is It Possible to Use Just One Collaboration Tool for Business?

Strategies To Help

Ultimately, simplification and consolidation rely on a focus around one single tool. To decide which should get your vote, consider essentials like:

  • The platforms you already use
  • Adaptive solutions
  • The possibility of enhancement and improvement

Microsoft Teams, in particular, offers inclusive solutions that fit a wide range of needs, especially thanks to integration with essentials like Office 365. This is a benefit that makes Teams the most popular tool on the market, with 145 million daily active users in Q1 of 2021 and 60% of businesses reporting usage, often on a one-tool basis.

Percentage of Businesses Using Each Collaboration Tool

Step 3: Integrate Telephony and Invest in Unified Communications

Ultimately, every effort you’ve made thus far has been towards one goal – unified communications. Only once you achieve this can you, and more importantly, your team, enjoy the centralised simplicity of access and collaboration necessary as we enter 2021. 

Most collaboration tools do work towards this in some way, especially inclusive options like Teams. But the vast majority fall down on one significant focus – telephony. It seems that modern applications are simply too focused on ‘future’ communications such as video, without considering that calls still play a huge part in success. For one thing, 56% of customers still say that this is their preferred form of communications, and they aren’t the only ones. For employees, too, the ability to pick up the phone and connect in moments is key.

Of course, it’s not true to say that modern solutions have cut calls altogether. Again, Microsoft Teams stands above the rest when it comes to calling options, and the potential sophistication of those solutions. 

How To Get Started

Different business collaboration tools have different options available to add PSTN calling. Again, the tool with the widest number of options is Teams, and we can use this as an example of things to look out for. 

  • Cross-launch apps: These provide cross-launch capabilities from Teams, and PSTN calling capabilities – for example RingCentral and Cisco Webex. In general, this option provides an easy setup, but it’s not integrated and it’s not real unified communications — it’s just another business collaboration tool complicating workflows.
  • Microsoft Calling Plan and Phone System: This is Microsoft’s in-house solution, and is a welcome addition compared to other tools like Slack that don’t have this option at all. However, Microsoft doesn’t provide all of the sophistication you would need to replace your existing business phone system with Teams using their in-house integration solution. It has:
    • Limited abilities. No call recording, skill-based routing, or managed call queues
    • Limited reporting functions and customer support
    • A limited selection of compatible devices
  • Direct Routing: This is a third-party option that integrates Microsoft Teams directly with your PSTN provider, and provides access to a complete business phone system from inside Teams. With users able to access any business number on any device by simply logging in, this solution stands head and shoulders above others where unification is concerned, all while keeping costs low. 

If you want to add calling to your business collaboration tool, Direct Routing is the best choice. It provides the sophistication needed to actually replace your existing phone system with Teams, reducing overall infrastructure costs while delivering a unified communications platform that you can use to improve and streamline remote collaboration. The challenge of Direct Routing is the complexity of getting started — but it doesn’t have to be that way.  

Suggested Reading: Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

Callroute and Teams Deliver Improved Collaboration in Minutes

The remote adjustment is a significant shakeup, and we certainly weren’t expecting it to become the ‘new normal’ so fast. That said, now we’re here, it’s time to get to the root of what makes remote collaboration work, allowing us to make hay while the sun doesn’t shine. 

Ultimately, successful remote collaboration is all about the tools you use and how you implement them within your workplace. Fewer tools that do more, and do it within the cloud, are the absolute pinnacle of smooth communication right now. According to businesses that are booming, Teams is the right tool for that job, especially when paired with the right telephony solutions. 

At Callroute, we have created a unique Direct Routing solution that enables businesses to integrate calling with Microsoft Teams in minutes. We’ve dramatically simplified our offering by being both the PSTN carrier and Direct Routing integration provider.

Set up a consultation with our experts to identify how Callroute could benefit your business. Improve your collaboration today and drive business productivity across remote, office and hybrid working.

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Intermittent Microsoft Teams calling issues reported globally. This issue appears to be affecting all Microsoft customers worldwide. Microsoft are currently investigating the issue. All Callroute systems are fully operational. More information will be provided as soon as possible.