office work (SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock.com)

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How unified communications supports flexible work

COVID-19 changed the face of the government workplace in 2020, with more employees and contractors working remotely than ever before. The “work from anywhere, anytime” trend, vastly accelerated by the pandemic and innovative, cloud-based digital workforce tools, offers unprecedented flexibility and benefits for agencies and workers alike.

The question for IT and network managers is how to best support this and other vital, modern business and communication tools now and in the future. Legacy methodologies and technologies simply cannot keep up. A solution is unified communications systems. UC provides a flexible, cloud-based platform that allows the workforce to effectively and seamlessly communicate and collaborate regardless of their location and the devices they use.

UC systems combine all the necessary tools an agency needs in a central location that everyone can access. This includes applications that allow employees to take and place phone calls, conduct video conferences, access all instant messaging and internal communication platforms and plenty more. This provides a number of benefits to government agencies:

Centralized communication. Maintaining multiple systems for different aspects of the work environment only makes collaboration more difficult for remote employees and IT staff. Making sure everyone stays in sync is difficult, which is why having a UC infrastructure that houses all communication tools on a single platform is so useful.

Scalability. When lockdowns hit, organizations that hadn’t tested remote work found their internal communication tools could not handle suddenly being used by some or all of the workforce at the same time. Fortunately, cloud-based UC platforms can quickly scale to meet demands, meaning sudden changes are easily accommodated.

Anywhere access. UC systems work across devices, from desktop computers and laptops to tablets and smartphones. Since they’re cloud-based, employees can access these tools from anywhere and work on business documents without worrying about local storage.

Document management and reporting. UC tools allow agencies to host all their files and documents in the cloud, making them easily available for both access and collaboration. Employees always have access to the latest version of a file, and a digital trail of revision requests makes it easy to see who contributed what and when.

Increased productivity. Since everyone can collaborate on the same document in real-time, sending files back and forth and relying on someone to merge all the changes is no longer required. Instead, employees can concentrate on the document at hand without worrying about overwriting others’ changes. UC also prevents files getting lost or the delays from files only being accessible to a single person.

Interoperability. Employees are not required to use any specific device to access their work, and all or most of the UC tools available to employees will work on any platform, from a smartphone to a desktop computer. This provides incredible flexibility when it comes to giving employees the choice of when and where they work.

Flexible work environments. With flexible work ranked among the top priorities for employees, UC gives staff the flexibility to stay productive on their own schedules by consolidating business tools in a central location and replicating virtually all the processes they need to collaborate on projects and reach out to constituents, contractors and other partners.

Voice and video communication. UC tools feature voice and video communication that can easily be used by individuals or entire teams. Employees can hop in a group voice chat, optionally turn on video capture and talk and see one another as if they were all sitting around the same table.

Easy onboarding. UC makes it easy to keep track of new employees or contractors and get them up-to-speed with current business projects quickly. New team members have immediate access to both work documents and the tools needed to work and communicate with other team members.

Suitable for internal and external communication. UC systems work well for collaboration with both internal and external partners. They allow file owners to share and grant others granular access rights to agency documents and other resources, allowing staff to specify who can access and edit specific files.

Clearly, UC supports a flexible, efficient, anywhere, anytime work environment, but the advantages don’t stop here. By combining multiple communication and productivity functionalities in a single, integrated, cloud-based platform, agencies can decrease spending on premises-based equipment, the physical space required to house it, as well as administration, maintenance and upkeep.

About the Author

Dennis Thankachan is co-founder and CEO of Lightyear.

Featured

  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected