Are You Helping Your Employees Perform Their Best?

Here at ReadyTalk, we’re big fans of Jacob Morgan and his book (and philosophy) The Future of Work. Jacob identifies the changes we’re seeing unfold in the modern workplace, specifically related to how to get the most out of your employees by giving them the environment and tools with which they can best thrive.

So what are these future of work principles?

7_principles_of_the_future_employee1311

That is,

  1. Has a flexible work environment
  2. Can customize own work
  3. Shares information
  4. Uses new ways to communicate and collaborate
  5. Can become a leader
  6. Shifts from knowledge worker to learning worker
  7. Learns and teaches at will

Change and unified communication isn’t so scary; it’s happening now

Any change can be scary, but some of the trends are especially concerning for management and information technology (IT) professionals. These trends shift control to the employees, which can be a nightmare to manage. Until recently, we had our own little break in internal communication, where certain teams were using one messaging platform, and others were using something completely different. So before you could connect with someone, you had to stop to think about how you could reach them. Talk about technology getting in the way of communication!

There has to be a balance of personal preference and organizational efficiency. But I’m probably preaching to the choir, here.

Unified communications attempts to offset some of challenges of connecting and collaborating with your co-workers. When I want to call Dwight, I don’t have to worry about whether he’s in San Diego or Denver this week. I can just call his extension, and he can answer regardless of where he is.

Wait, a phone extension? This is the future of work? Yes, it is. See, the future isn’t so scary 🙂

Letting employees be accessible using a standard business phone number is a step in the right direction. I can get my calls (or my voicemails) without being in the physical office. Heck, some of my coworkers don’t even have a desk phone; their number rings on the softphone on their computers, and their mobile device.

Yes, mobile phones are a huge part of the future of work, too. Right now, people are using their personal mobile devices to get information about work anyway to be more productive and to have that flexibility. I can be at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen and still provide needed information. I don’t need to be tied to my office phone or computer. This has been huge for our team in terms of getting work done effectively and quickly. Some companies bring in meals so they can ensure their employees don’t wander off to eat at all hours of the day. Ah, the horror!

At ReadyTalk, go ahead and leave the office. And if a coworker needs your thoughts on something, he can just shoot you a quick IM or fire up a video call. Just because you’re not physically in the same spot doesn’t mean communication can’t take place.

Workers are more productive when they leave the office

A 2016 study by TINYPulse found that remote workers are not only happier, they also feel they’re significantly more productive than when they’re in the office. Imagine that: the important communication can still happen, but the distracting noise is cut out?

TINYPulse 2016 Study: What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers
From TINYPulse Report: What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers

 

So here’s the not-so secret truth: the Future of Work is already here. That’s especially true at ReadyTalk. Both in how we get things done, and in the tools we’re creating to help you work better, anywhere you wish.

Engage Your Community

It’s the Holy Grail for every marketer — interaction that’s engagement. Engaging your audience is the thing we all strive for in various ways — on our websites, on our social media sites, on our blogs … everywhere. We want to engage our current audiences like customers. We want to engage our new audiences, otherwise known as prospects.


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Engagement has inherent risk

But when it comes to engagement, we need to be brave. Engagement has inherent risk. People may say things we don’t like. I don’t mean the sometimes crazy comments in your local online newspaper or television station, although for some industries that’s entirely possible. I mean the feedback about our products and services, our content, and our social posts. It can be negative. But that doesn’t mean we should stop asking questions and asking or soliciting feedback.

It’s why I think it’s a mistake to shut down comments from the blog, social media (like YouTube), and more.

Engagement has responsibility

It also means we’re responsible for doing something with that feedback. Our Customer Care team gets feedback from customers and share that information with our product management team. In fact, they often have ideas on how to improve our products and their feedback is a step in the process. In Marketing, when we’re conducting case studies and testimonials, we sometimes hear ideas for products; we carry that information forward, too.

Building engagement with negative feedback

Even really negative feedback can be positive, beyond ideas on how to improve. In the office, we like hearing feedback, even when it’s negative. Not long ago, someone called out a mistake we made on LinkedIn. We loved hearing it. When people care enough to point out mistakes, they care. Caring is a step along the way to engagement. If they’re disengaged, they won’t comment or correct you.

And if you’re lucky, those ideas for improvement can turn them into raving fans. When I worked at a nonprofit, there was a gentleman who made comments in social media that indicated he was disappointed in the nonprofit from services provided to general mission. I was lucky enough to be able to meet him for coffee and discuss his concerns — address some right away and take back ideas for improvement. After that, he became a raving fan. Sure, we can’t take everyone out for coffee to discuss ideas, but being open to negative feedback is important.

Negative feedback helps us improve and deepens our relationship with those giving those improvement ideas.

Peer-to-peer sharing

Peer-to-peer sharing is engagement at its finest. Your prospects and customers are learning and sharing with each other without you. They’re increasing your knowledge about subjects. And it’s without your resources, saving you money and time. By them sharing information in your space — on your website, in your forum, on your social media — you’re increasing engagement and loyalty in your brand. Loyalty’s increased by them and others.

How do you build engagement?

You have ideas. Let’s hear them.

Cloud Business Communications Saves Money at Your Office

A lot has been written about the increased agility, customer service and productivity benefits of using cloud-based business communications services. Cloud services enable many worker types, such as executives, knowledge workers, project managers and customer service staff can work productively anywhere. Unified communications and collaboration tools enable the dispersed workforce to regain the benefits of spontaneous “water cooler” conversations via messaging, voice and video.

That’s right, you don’t have to be in one office to work as if you’re a big company. Your sales team, customer service and creatives can all be dispersed — working from home, in other states or even other countries. That’s the beauty of unified communications.

Office SpaceHowever, there’s another tangible benefit to more agile, flexible working practice – and that’s the reduction of traditional office space required. More small business and midsized companies can benefit.

Office costs

With office space rental costing anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000 per year, per employee in major US cities, freeing workers from their cubicles can save organizations serious amounts of cash! (Source: Market Watch and TheSquareFoot, 2015 data)

Remote working, including working from home

One of the biggest perks small and medium-sized businesses have in recruiting is flexibility. Indeed lists three top reasons people join new companies — pay and flexibility are the top two. Some people even prefer flexibility of time and location to pay.

Some have even gone the extra mile, and become completely virtual enterprises, with no traditional bricks and mortar office premises. While this will probably remain the exception rather than the rule, there’s no doubt cloud communications and near-ubiquitous broadband is providing unprecedented freedom in where and how we choose to work and live our lives.

You’re in a virtual office?

What’s your favorite part about being dispersed and virtual?

Madness Takes Control

We’ve just had a full moon — the Hunter’s Moon. There’s madness.

Not the band Madness, which I grew up listening to along with Men at Work and other 80s bands. No … this is more the Rocky Horror kind with Riff Raff peeking out from behind a door to welcome you to the master’s house. It’s just a jump to the left.

Riff Raff on madness

You know what I’m talking about.

You’re busy with budgeting and revenue

It’s nearing the end of the year, so there’s revenue goals to hit. Next year’s budget is being worked through. People are breathing down your neck to ensure you make your numbers, either by proving productivity or revenue. Looking at next year’s budget and the reductions, everyone’s expecting miracles.

Your personal life is hectic; thanks to the upcoming holidays

If you’re a parent, report cards are coming out soon. You’re probably making Halloween plans. You’re working out tickets for Thanksgiving and the holidays to finalize where you’re trying to determine which relatives to see when. Even if you’re ahead of the game, you’re busy holiday shopping for people on your list.

And you know it’s about to get busier.

This election is cray-cray

Save money on collaboration and webinarsIf there’s one thing almost everyone can agree on it’s that this year’s election is redonkulous. It seems like a parallel dimension — like the wormhole Star Trek characters accidentally found themselves. It’s like Alice falling through a rabbit hole where cards are trying to kill her. It’s the Bizarro World from D.C. comics.

Things aren’t what you expect. They’re really weird. I don’t care who you’re voting for, that seems to be a consensus from everyone.

For all these reasons, it’s a good time to introduce savings: people need cheering up from the madness.

Let’s make your day and save you money

We’re hoping to make your life less wacky. Marketers, we know you’re considering webinar platforms to increase leads next year. How about 10% off webinar platforms? IT professionals, you’re looking at collaboration and productivity next year. How about 10% off our conferencing?

It might be crazy, but it’s our kind of crazy — making your life better and saving you a little money, too.

What else is driving you crazy?

Not much we can do about the elections, but … we’d love to hear what else we can do to make your life a little saner right now.

 

Save on Webinars and Collaboration

9 Questions to Ask Before Upgrading Your Phone System

phone-systemsBuying the correct phone system can make a difference to the success of your business in the next 5-10 years. Choosing the right system could mean hiring less staff, winning more contracts, worrying less about disasters and yes, saving you money. Take the time to find answers to the 9 key questions outlined below before upgrading your new phone system.

Key questions

  1. Cost: Check what is included and not included in the minutes bundle. Are there any exit clauses in the service contract? Do you have to rent the phones for longer than the service contract? It can be a gotcha with some providers.
  2. Flexibility: Can you add or remove users during the service contract? Do you have to pay for devices or for users? This is important as you grow your business or as people are hired and leave your company.
  3. Disasters: Can the system divert calls to tablets or mobile phones when the access network is down? Are there restrictions in the features when people are remote? Disaster planning is crucial and one of the biggest advantages of having the right communications systems.
  4. Consistency: Are all the features available to remote workers or do some get removed? Is the quality the same – for example, some mobile systems only use a technology called VoIP when remote, which can hurt voice quality if the network is congested.
  5. Usability: Are the features the same on the phone, PC and mobile devices or are they different? Do you still have to rely on a telephone?
  6. Professionalism: Does the system support features such as auto attendant, music on hold, automatic call distribution, call queuing, so you never miss a call? Missing the wrong call can be disastrous.
  7. Productivity: Does the system have features like conferencing, room-based collaboration and instant messaging and presence? Integration of communication is how the working world gets things done these days and your phone system should be able to accommodate it.
  8. Mobility: Does the system support iOS and Android devices? Can it support all the productivity features above when mobile? The right phone system can handle when you’re on the go.
  9. Maintenance: Does the system have web-based user self-administration and allow you to control powerful features from a single web page? Does the service support diagnostics so the service provider can quickly identify any issues that you may run into? Enabling you to have control ensures your phone system is meeting your business needs.

Be sure to ask about the underlying technologies that the service providers have in place that allows them to innovate rapidly and drive the biggest impact for your business. The fanciest features or the lowest price won’t do you much good if the quality, reliability and security are not core components of the service provider’s platform upon which your service relies on.

Your business depends on the right solution and communication integration.