How Unified Communications Can Better Support Remote Workforces During the COVID-19 Pandemic

To say that COVID-19 has significantly altered daily life would be an understatement. 

As stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines at the local, state and federal levels have been put in place, individuals and companies have been forced to adapt. Many businesses deemed nonessential have begun mandating remote work for all eligible employees. Even essential businesses may be encouraging some staff to work from home.

This is an acceleration of a preexisting trend. The truth is, even before the pandemic, remote work has been a fairly commonplace component of today’s economy.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of all wage and salary workers completed their tasks via telework at least part of the time in 2017 and 2018.

While the coronavirus pandemic may have accelerated your business’s need to accommodate remote workers, stopgap solutions will not cut it for the long haul.

The benefits and challenges of remote work

Obviously, it will take some time for the current shock to wear off. The sudden influx of people working from home is a lot to manage, to say nothing of monitoring the progression of the pandemic at large.

Telework does have some positives, though.

According to the Office of Personnel Management’s 2018 Federal Work-Life Survey, the top two reasons employees worked from home were to “minimize office disruptions” and “maximize productivity,” both of which were cited by more than 60% of telework respondents. These employees also reported better morale and an increased desire to keep working for their current agency.

Far and away, the main reason that people did not work remotely was that they had jobs that required them to be physically present. It’s easy to imagine federal jobs that would absolutely necessitate employees work onsite, but COVID-19 may teach us that more jobs can be conducted remotely than we previously had thought.

In addition, 4% of survey respondents who did not conduct telework said it was because they didn’t have the necessary equipment. This suggests that even among federal workers, access to equipment impacts remote workforce effectiveness.

Unified communications technology: An essential component

Most discussions around unified communications (UC) for remote workforces skew toward integrating disparate collaboration and conferencing technologies for workers whose primary tasks are conducted within an office environment.

As we rethink what is possible for remote work, however, we will increasingly move toward hybrid environments where coordination may take place from a remote desktop while talking with people in the field, such as health care providers, logistics operators and repair technicians.

These workers often rely on a heterogeneous assortment of platforms, adding complexity for managers and dispatchers who need to have instantaneous contact with their field-based workforce.

Such interactions could sometimes be accomplished with face-to-face check-ins or two-way radios. The growing distance between the remote worker on one end and the on-site worker on the other, however, makes this more difficult, as does the wide variety of platforms in use.

One solution for this problem is to tie push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities to cloud technology, allowing for a wide range of users to communicate instantaneously, regardless of their device or location.

WAVE OnCloud, for instance, is a multimedia communication subscription service that facilitates instantaneous group communication and moves seamlessly between smartphones, broadband devices and two-way radios.

If you need help driving unified communications for geographically dispersed workers who require PTT-level connectivity regardless of which platforms they use, reach out to us today. We’re here to help.



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