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Monday, 17 October 2022 08:25

How unified communications can help combat the skills crisis

By Peter Eldon, sales and marketing director, Access4
Access4 sales and marketing director Peter Eldon Access4 sales and marketing director Peter Eldon

The chronic skills shortage currently faced by organisations throughout Australia shows no sign of abating. As a result, many are looking for new strategies to counter the trend and put themselves in a better position to grow.

While the skills crisis was well underway prior to the global pandemic, the emergence of the virus made things considerably worse. Many people not comfortable with remote work practices opted to leave, exacerbating shortages.

With a significant portion of pandemic restrictions now lifted, increasing numbers of organisations are now requiring staff to return to the office. Managers want to be sure people are carrying out their roles and re-establishing in-person communication channels.

However, this move is only serving to make the skills crisis even more acute. People now comfortable with working from home are resisting the call to return to their offices. If forced, many are choosing to resign.

A better solution is for organisations to create a hybrid working environment. Staff can be given the option of working from home for a portion of the week and attending the office for the remainder. Organisations that offer this flexibility will be more likely to attract the skilled staff that they require.

The role of UCaaS

When building out a hybrid work environment, it is critical that staff can be as productive working from home as they are in the office. An essential component needed to achieve this is a flexible and reliable telecommunications and conferencing platform.

By deploying a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform, an organisation can ensure staff have access to the same features and capabilities regardless of their working location. UCaaS also overcomes the limitations associated with virtual private network (VPN) links and removes the need to deploy and manage complex underlying technology.

From the customer’s perspective, they expect to receive the same quality of service whether the staff member they are interacting with is in the office or working remotely. A UCaaS platform allows this to happen as calls are handled in the same way by both office-based and home-working staff members.

Staff members can also readily access customer records during calls. This means details of previous interactions can be viewed which streamlines conversations and makes the customer feel more valued.

Traditional telephony systems, that rely on complex PABX boxes in a central office, simply cannot achieve these goals. The only solution is to migrate to a cloud-based UCaaS alternative.

Business benefits

As well as streamlining voice and video communications, a UCaaS platform can deliver other significant benefits to a business and ensure it is well placed to attract and retain talented staff.

Sophisticated monitoring and analytics tools can help managers understand the workloads on each staff member and whether any changes might be required. Home-based workers are just as visible as those in the office with everything from call duration and volume to the sentiment of callers available for review.

Rather than home-based staff feeling isolated and potentially overworked, they can be regularly monitored and have their workload adjusted when required. The result is a more satisfied workforce and improved levels of customer service.

Having a UCaaS platform in place also ensures that an organisation will be able to react quickly should another widespread and disruptive event occur. If operations need to shift to being 100 per cent remote, this can be achieved without disruption to business operations.

A better working environment

It’s clear that a UCaaS platform can assist an organisation to become both more nimble and more efficient. It can also help to attract and retain the best people, particularly in the current highly competitive market.

A platform can also allow firms to look further afield for potential recruits. Staff can be hired interstate or even overseas and be quickly connected so that they work as well as their office-based peers.

While the skills crisis is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, organisations can reduce its impact by making themselves attractive to new starts. Deploying a fully featured UCaaS is an important part of this process.

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