Unified communications (UC) solutions have been instrumental in supporting the mass transition to remote work operations during the pandemic. With remote work likely to remain widespread long after the health crisis has passed, organizations must now establish a well-defined strategy for the communication and collaboration needs of their remote employees.
In our last post, we discussed deployment options and network readiness considerations for long-term reliance upon UC. In this post, we’ll look at several other factors that organizations must think through as they prepare to implement or upgrade a UC solution for large numbers of remote workers:
Unified Communications (UC) Hardware
Many home offices lack the hardware employees need to be productive and efficient. For example, older PCs without integrated web cameras can’t access UC’s video calling and collaboration features. Once work-from-home orders were issued at the pandemic’s onset, big-box stores and electronics retailers all reported strong demand for web cameras, noise-canceling headphones, wireless routers, printersand other office accessories. Some employees will need a dual-monitor setup so they can access and revise documents on one screen while taking part on team video meetings on another. Consider whether the company will provide this equipment, or perhaps provide a technology stipend.
Unified Communications (UC) Software
Much of UC’s value comes from the integration with key business applications such as CRM, ERP, sales force automation, supply chain management and productivity suites such as Microsoft Office. This integration ensures users don’t have to break up their workflow by toggling between services as they perform regular tasks. Look for a UC platform with open APIs that simplify the integration process.
Unified Communications (UC) Security
IP-based communication platforms that expose data, voice and mobile applications to the public Internet present some unique risks. In addition to conventional security measures such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, there are a number measures that help secure UC systems. Session border controllers (SBCs) help secure the network edge, regulate traffic in and out of the network, and normalize signaling and media used in real-time communications. Authentication and encryption protect voice and video traffic against unauthorized recording, playback and other forms of electronic snooping. Virtual LAN (VLAN) segmentation separates voice and data traffic, allowing implementation of voice-specific security protocols that would otherwise interfere with data traffic.
Unified Communications (UC) Privacy
Employees working from home have a keen interest in keeping their work life separate from their personal life. “Dual persona” technology allows users to communicate by voice, text or email from a single device while keeping personal calls and contacts separate from business calls and contacts. Data privacy is of more concern to employers. With sensitive data now residing on employee-owned devices, it is a good idea to incorporate data loss prevention solutions that monitor email and other outbound communications to ensure users do not send sensitive or confidential data outside the organization without proper authorization.
Unified Communications (UC) Mobile Support
Your UC solution must deliver high-quality mobile connections so that remote workers can do their jobs from any location and any device. The best platforms provide mobile support for UC features such as video conferencing, desktop sharing, CRM integration, instant messaging and presence. Dual-mode functionality ensures a frictionless handover as users move back and forth between mobile and fixed networks. It also allows users to maintain mobile access to important fixed-line features such as extension dialing, conference calling, company directory, hold and call transfer.
Unified Communications (UC) Support
Remote user support is essential to ensure employees are getting the most from the UC solution. Since many people had little or no experience with remote work before the pandemic, they may still be having issues working with UC systems and other technologies from home. Remote training is also essential for onboarding new hires remotely. Many UC platforms allow you to create an end-user portal where employees can access training videos and documents or submit support requests.
How IPC Can Help
IPC has extensive experience in the development of UC strategies as well as the design, implementation and support of UC systems. Contact our experts to schedule a no-obligation consultation.