Tag Archives: better communication

Potential sticking points to unified communications

Unified communications has turned the workplace on its head, making home sweet home the new office place. Workers are kissing traffic jams good-bye, and the "daily grind," if you can even call it that, is measured in feet, not miles. To what extent? Well, In 2015, roughly 25 percent of employees worked from home on any given day, based on the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And over the past decade, telecommuting has risen a whopping 115 percent, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Unified communications has brought convenience back to the modern workplace. It streamlines the interaction process so individuals near and far can talk work through a single server, whether via the cloud, IP telephony or the numerous other channels that fall under the UC umbrella.

Afraid of the cloud? Don't be

Here's the sticking point, though: Businesses aren't exactly flocking to the cloud in droves. In fact, while 70 percent of business owners have at least considered using one communication provider rather than several, according to statistics compiled by Inc., only 19 percent have actually pulled the trigger, this according to computer security services firm Bird Rock Systems.

Why the slow transition? For one, change is always hard, especially for those who prefer face-to-face interaction. Cybersecurity is never far from business owners' minds, either, and unfamiliarity with the cloud can bring those thoughts to the fore. 

Just remember that being unacquainted with cloud computing security shouldn't suggest that it lacks in protection. In fact, According to Clutch, 90 percent of companies who use the cloud for data storage find it to be as good or better than an on-site servers at protecting their information!

New technology doesn't always cause headaches 

Because UC systems makes their bones by facilitating multiple communications systems, your mind may associate UC with technical problems. That's why selecting the right partner is so critical – wink, wink. But really, great customer service and a best-in-class network can go a long way.

Plus, companies are already planning ahead for these types of adjustments, as 21 percent of CIOs say they'll add full-time tech professionals to their staff this year, according to a poll from Robert Half. Why? Twenty-four percent said it had to do with cloud migration or big data.

From efficiency to productivity, increased engagement to cost containment, the return on investment makes unified communications the business solution that simply gets the job done – both inside and outside the office.

4 tips for planning holiday office parties

The company holiday party isn't just a chance to decorate the office and eat one too many cookies; it's an important opportunity to recognize employees for the hard work they've done all year.

As you head into the fourth quarter, it's a smart idea to start planning your office's holiday party. The earlier you begin hammering out the details, the better, as a little prep work nows saves headaches later and helps ensure the festivities are a hit. 

Here are four tips for planning your holiday office party:

1. Pick a fun theme 

Giving the holiday party a creative theme keeps the atmosphere from being too stuffy and, as online invitations company Punchbowl noted, provides a focus for the event that can simplify planning. An ugly sweater party is a classic theme, but there are lots of other fun ideas you could try, such as:

  • North Pole: Transform the space into a winter wonderland complete with Santa's workshop. 
  • Holidays in Paradise: Decorate with a tropical island theme. 
  • Roaring 20s: Have a classy, old-fashioned holiday celebration with 1920s-inspired decor and music. 

2. Choose a convenient time

Schedule the holiday party for a convenient time to boost attendance rates; the Friday right before many employees head off for holiday travel may not be the best day for the party. 

Some companies hold their holiday parties in the evening, after a workday or on the weekend. However, the event doesn't have to be after hours; luncheons are a popular alternative, according to HR consulting firm ERC. They can be held during the workweek, making them likely more convenient for a greater number of employees, and these gatherings can be less expensive than evening parties, offering a great option for smaller budgets. 

3. Consider your booze policy 

Give some thought to whether you'll serve alcohol at your party. If you do, it's important to follow safe practices. The Balance has a helpful list of tips for serving alcohol at company events; it includes serving solely beer and wine instead of liquor and limiting the number of hours the bar is open. Only professional bartenders should serve alcohol, too, never employees. 

4. Include remote workers 

Remote workers shouldn't be left out of the festivities! With the simple-to-use video conferencing solutions available today, companies can get creative with including their remote staff in the party. As The Atlantic explained in an article on the increasing popularity of remote-work holiday parties, telecommuting staff can call into in-office parties via video conference. 

With these tips, you can throw a fun and successful holiday party at your company this year. 

What can I use webinars for?

 

Webinars – you hear a lot about them, but what do you actually use them for? Well, we’re here to tell you: a lot of things. And really exciting things at that!

If used right, webinars can bring big advantages for your business. More leads, happier customers, better brand recognition and more engaged employees – all this can be yours if you create targeted, high-quality webinars. And that’s easier than ever, thanks to the innovative, intuitive tools available and our handy webinar guide here.

So let’s dive in – here are a few specific ways you can use webinars at your business:

Share vital information with remote employees

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the data shows that more companies than ever before are hiring full-time remote workers. Telecommuting arrangements can be a boon for productivity, but being able to get the job done effectively depends on having the right materials at your fingertips. Webinars offer ultra-focused ways to share must-have information, documents, presentations and the like with your remote workers. It can also be an engaging way to brief remote employees on company news, policy changes and new projects. Pair webinars with a unified communications solution and you can make sure that no telecommuter is left in the dark.

Position your company as a thought leader

In today’s crowded content marketplace, everyone’s fighting to grab consumers’ attentions. Brand visibility is the name of the game, and getting the word out that your organization is a thought leader in its industry is a great way to strengthen brand identity and get your name out there. A webinar is the perfect platform for building thought leadership, as it’s both dynamic and visually interesting. Have an influential industry figure or leader at your company share their insights on current news in your sector. Keep the webinar targeted to make it most effective. These types of webinars can also help generate leads and bring potential clients further through the sales cycle.

Enhance user training

You never want to feel like your customers don’t know how to fully take advantage of all the benefits your product or service offers. A dependable customer support team is part of the equation, but user training is also key. Hold webinars that address key functionalities of your products – they’ll be a valuable resource for your customers and keep them coming back to your site.

Webinars are an amazing tool to have at your company – use them to grow your business and engage your employees and customer base alike.

The Power of Streamlining Communications

Companies have been using email, mobile phones, instant messaging (IM) and video conferencing for years. Unfortunately, internet protocol-based phone systems are all too often segregated because they are separate communications avenues. Voice over IP (VoIP) makes it hard to unify these systems, even if it makes it easier to communicate.

unified communicationsEnter ReadyTalk. We want to unify communications to make it easier on our customers. For one, we’ve heard this is an issue. And two, well — we think we can do something about it. It’s why in November, we launched hosted voice. Hosted unified communications (UC) – otherwise known as cloud communications and hosted voice – brings all these tools together, improving collaboration, connection, engagement and communication.

What’s in a name?

UC, hosted voice, cloud communications, cloud telephony — it’s all the same. It sounds jargony, but it’s really about simplifying communications. The basic idea is it takes lots of different systems and makes them seamless … integrated.

Why UC?

It incorporates IP telephony, conferencing, softphones, and presence into a company’s workflow, all under one roof. It can improve productivity and reduce costs. And it’s best when you can go to one company to deliver all these communication solutions together.

Reduced cost

Many UC benefits such as productivity gains and can be more difficult to quantify. However, there’s discernible cost savings, too; UC cuts costs. Hosted voice is able to route internal calls over their data network, lowering long-distance fees, maintenance costs and support costs by as much as 25%. And once a hosted voice is in place, the costs for moving, adding, changing and deleting users goes away.

Better communication

Intangible benefits are harder to define. The best returns come from improved communication, which have several benefits like enhanced customer service and revenue stimulation, where having faster access to information results in sales closing faster and invoices being sent out sooner.

Think about speed. With UC, end users gain access to all of their communications tools – email, calendars, telephony, real-time communications and corporate directory – in a single interface offers a major productivity boost. Instead of having separate interfaces for checking email, making appointments, placing telephone calls, or having instant messaging conversations, all of this can take place in one interface.

Flexibility for workers

The use of one interface for all communications allow employees greater flexibility in where they work – on-site, at home or in their local coffee shop. For example, using a UC system an employee can be just as productive at home or in a hotel room as he or she is in the office. That means that teleworking is easier, leading to improved employee morale and greater employer flexibility in hiring employees independently of their geographic location.

Faster decisions

Beyond better and faster communications, workers can make faster decisions. An employee sitting in an airport or at home can receive calls or conduct instant messaging conversations just as if he or she was at their desk. This eliminates much of the “telephone” tag that takes place in business today.

Greener companies

For those organizations focused on “green” initiatives, UC can support these initiatives in several ways, including reducing the number of individual systems and power requirements that a company must support, reducing employee travel into the office by allowing them to work remotely more often, and minimizing the amount of floor space in an office by allowing employees to use the “hoteling” concept – i.e., coming into an office location only when necessary.

Compared to standalone solutions, UC systems can provide any organization with a number of important benefits that include lower IT labor expenditures, greater employee productivity, faster decision-making and lower real estate costs. While there are a number of vendors and delivery models that can be used to deploy hosted UC, appliance-based or hosted solutions will typically be the best choice for SMBs and SMEs given the relatively high cost per seat for on-premise solutions and the lower deployment and management expertise possessed by many smaller firms.

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