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Communication tools to enable a flexible workforce

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Dennis Adonis

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4 Oct 2018
5 min read
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Is now the right time to go remote?

From the early availability of personal computers and home internet connections, workplaces have tested different forms of flexible working practices. The development of different channels and technology like portable computers, virtual private networks, and the growing accessibility of internet connections have further expanded the practical range of flexible structures, and the locations staff can work from.

Plus, with the advancement of platforms that deliver multiple communication channels from one interface, the in-office experience may just be a thing of the past.

Why give up a brick-and-mortar location and go mobile?

There's a wide range of identified benefits in allowing staff to complete some or all their work remotely, including:

  • Attracting the best staff by expanding the available talent pool beyond the areas your existing offices may be located

  • Accommodating the growing trends of freelancing and outsourcing

  • Fostering new innovations through the creativity that can flow from exposing the mind to new working locations and situations

  • Increasing productivity by allowing employees to work at the time and location that suits their personal style or commitments

  • Reducing costs by lowering the overhead normally spent on office rental, furniture, and maintenance of in-house servers and related hardware

Management frameworks like ROWE (Results Only Working Environment) have grown to help ensure the productivity of high-performance staff isn’t affected when removed from traditional workplace command and control structures.

Cafe with group of people working on laptops

Dispersed working in action

Automattic, the commercial arm of popular CMS WordPress, which by some estimates runs as many as 27% of websites globally, is a leading example of a high-performance flexible workplace.

With more than 400 staff distributed across 50 countries who don’t share an office, the company uses custom collaboration tools and private group chat extensively, as well as a rigorous focus on results and outcome measurement to ensure projects stay on track. Workplace flexibility is being pursued in more traditional workplaces too, as seen by the 2016 announcement by the Premier of New South Wales that “100 percent of public service jobs will be flexible by 2019.”

Smartphones – the next step in workforce flexibility

The next wave of employee mobility is being powered by the growth in the power of smart devices, interfaced with intelligent communication suites that offer a seamless experience.

Rather than just being a vehicle for single channel comms or one-way text messages and phone calls, smartphones now provide workforce management for a range of functional areas, such as IT, welfare, and human resources departments. This keeps remote staff safe and helps ensure productivity on the road.

Plus, with the automation that can be provided by SMS text messaging and the digital channels already in place within most corporate environments, you'll be able to reach your target audience where and when they're working with relevant, real-time information.

Some common applications already in use include:

  • IT system updates

  • Remote staff safety

  • Staff productivity

Engaging your enterprise systems of record

The next step in unlocking the power of a remote, omnichannel experience for your organization is directly connecting to systems of record.

These are both back office and front office applications and databases, which manage activities like finance, sales, marketing, and human resources - ERP, CRM, accounting software, etc.

Well-designed mobile apps are essentially a front endpoint for systems of record, which allow actions to be taken directly from the interface.

A new channel: HTML5 micro apps on demand

Communication platforms, like Whispir, have grown to deliver fully-fledged mobile apps on-demand to any internet-connected smart device. Once again, delivering an omnichannel approach to doing business by adding more engagement options to the mix. Connecting users to the micro-app can be done in the form of an initial text message or email, which opens the micro-app on the remotely hosted communication platform.

The great advantage is the end-user doesn’t need to have the app installed to be able to access the functionality. This allows the organization to create any conceivable digital experience to automate and streamline that process.

For employee management, this could be anything from culture surveys and gathering relevant data to interactive training tools. The new starter experience, for example, can now be fully automated, from interview to induction.

Graphic with three phone screens showing app process

An initial text message can be sent to candidates, which opens a micro app with all the details of their upcoming interview, including maps, interviewer information, timings, and everything they’ll need to bring on the day. The response capabilities of the app allow the candidate to accept, reject or reschedule from the same message - delivering a consistent user experience across the board.

All of these responses can be tracked via API to directly update the back-end HR systems.

These same automated steps can be followed all the way to induction for the successful applicant, saving considerable time and cost for employers, and ensuring the new starter receives a planned, engaging, and consistent experience at every part of their journey.

Create a productive employee and customer experience

Establishing a flexible workforce goes beyond the employee experience. Your team must also have the tools available to best serve customers from their remote work environment.

With a digital communications platform, sales reps can manage their omnichannel marketing initiatives from a single dashboard to ensure a consistent brand experience, while HR teams can continue to provide customer service without the need for a fully staffed, physical contact center.

After all, customer satisfaction doesn't have to suffer just because your team isn't in a shared office. A multichannel approach enables you to facilitate two-way messaging between staff, clients, leadership, and more - with a high level of visibility.

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