Author - 4Sight Communications

Your Top Cloud Migration Questions Answered: Part 3

In the final blog of three-part series on your top cloud migration questions, we focus on answers to your questions related to migrating from MiVoice Office 250 to MiCloud Connect, and how Mitel ensures cloud solution compliance, security and availability and interoperability with other vendors’ products and solutions. 

Why Should I Migrate From Mitel MiVoice Office 250 To MiCloud Connect? 

When you migrate from MiVoice Office 250 to MiCloud Connect, you have the best of both worlds: The ability to retain all of your current features and functions, and the opportunity to unlock a whole new set of capabilities that will help your teams work more efficiently and effectively.  

For example, you can continue using your Star application for call routing and auto attendant functionality because MiCloud Connect provides feature parity with the app. At the same time, you’ll be able to access more advanced functionality through your existing Mitel 6900 series phones than you can when you’re using MiVoice Office 250.  

MiCloud Connect enables a more integrated and improved experience with your 6900 series phones than MiVoice Office 250 does in terms of softphone functionality, mobility and other features. When you transition to MiCloud Connect, you can also take advantage of key capabilities your 6900 series phones support, such as the ability to send emergency notifications to all phones at once and to display desktop alerts. 

Does Migrating To MiCloud Connect Allow My Business To Maintain Compliance With Industry And Corporate Requirements For Public Safety, Data Security, Privacy And System Availability? 

Yes. MiCloud Connect is designed from the ground up to provide the highest possible levels of industry compliance, data protection and system availability.

We’ll start with public safety. MiCloud Connect complies with RAY BAUM’s Act, which mandates that 911 calls made from non-fixed-line phones must include “dispatchable location” data. Dispatchable location data includes a street address as well as additional information, such as a floor, suite, quadrant or room number that helps first responders quickly and easily locate callers within office buildings, hotels, apartment buildings and other large facilities.  

Compliance with RAY BAUM’s Act is extremely important for public safety when multitenant phone systems, apps and cellphones are used to call 911, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it in the near future. As of January 6, 2022, system vendors and telecom companies will be required to comply with RAY BAUM’s Act, so we’re ahead of the curve from that perspective. 

Multiple layers of security and reliability has been built into MiCloud Connect to ensure customers in every industry can meet the most rigorous requirements. 

MiCloud Connect is built on Google Cloud Platform, which provides some of the highest levels of data security and system availability in the industry. Google Cloud Platform is also certified as meeting Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and Service Organization Control Type II (SOC 2) requirements to meet the needs of heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, government, education and finance. 

It’s also important to know that MiCloud Connect runs in Tier 3 data centers, which provide redundant servers, storage, network links and other IT components. Each component has multiple independent sources of power and cooling so one source can take over from another if needed. Together, these built-in redundancies significantly increase reliability and decrease the risk your MiCloud Connect solution will become unavailable.  

To support customers who are operating in mission-critical environments, we also offer dedicated network service options such as connectivity in the form of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) or a private MPLS link.  

And finally, MiCloud Connect software is constantly audited to uncover any potential security vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is detected, a patch is applied as soon as possible to mitigate the risk that data will be compromised or lost. 

How Is Support For MiCloud Connect Handled? 

All software upgrades are taken care of by us, and you have 24/7 access to a help desk with knowledgeable staff who can answer your questions and assist you with any problems. If it makes your life easier, we can even program a “Help” button on your phone so you can connect directly to the help desk. 

If I Migrate To MiCloud Connect, Can I Still Use The Technologies I’ve Purchased From Other Vendors? 

Here’s a brief summary about interoperability between MiCloud Connect and other vendors’ products and solutionsones we’re asked about most often: 

  • Cisco, and other vendors’ VPN products: Technically, we don’t need to worry about VPN products. Our applications and our phones are secured using proprietary mechanisms, which means you can take a phone home, plug it in to your home router, and it will connect back into the cloud system in a secure and reliable way. The same is true for our applications, so there shouldn’t be any need for a VPN. 
  • Polycomm phones: There’s quite a bit of flexibility here. You can reuse your 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 series Polycomm phones with MiCloud Connect. You can also add analog telephone adaptors (ATAs) that provide additional functionality. 
  • Paging equipment: We use technology from Alogsystems to interoperate with paging systems and meet your paging requirements. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How Do Hybrid Workplaces Boost Employee Engagement?

The world came to a halt owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced most of us to try out a new working arrangement. That is when work-from-home and remote working policies came into consideration.

However, some jobs require fieldwork and cannot support the work from home setup. In such a scenario, a hybrid workplace can strike a balance between the two.

This working model has enormous advantages. It gives employees a sense of freedom and fulfilment at work. But, there are some challenges that employers and employees are facing for the first time. At the top of this priority list are employee engagement and employee wellbeing

But let’s first reflect on the definition and advantages of a hybrid workplace.

Meaning Of A Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace supports a distributed workforce.  It includes both in-office and remote workers. It is a scenario in which employees occasionally work at the office and complete the rest of their work from home at their convenience.

Advantages Of A Hybrid Workplace.

  1. The hybrid workforce is more productive, promotes holistic well-being, and thus more economical.
  2. It attracts employees of all ages and retains them by enhancing job satisfaction.
  3. Both your employees and your company will profit financially from a hybrid workplace. You save money on operating expenses. Your employees save money since they don’t have to commute to work or buy lunch.
  4. By reducing the number of people in the office during a pandemic, a hybrid workplace is a great safety protocol.

The Hidden Traps Of A Hybrid Workplace

It Is Difficult For Women, Digital Introverts And Junior Executives.

The pandemic particularly hit women’s lives massively. Because of the pressures of home-schooling their children, many mothers chose to be furloughed. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, continued to work full-time, although remotely.

In the hybrid work model, there is a significant risk that men’s and women’s attendance at physical workplaces will be imbalanced. It will have more women choosing to work remotely for a longer time. As a result, women are likely to fall behind in promotion possibilities and might lead to an increased gender pay gap.

Meanwhile, extroverts have a greater chance of fitting in at hybrid workplaces. They are more likely to wish to return to work. But introverts would most likely want to continue working from home. This division of different workplaces runs the risk of creating a digital divide.

The employees who work in the office can participate and contribute more effectively. But those who work from home fall behind and are side-lined.

Introducing and nurturing new talent is a daunting challenge in the hybrid workplace. There are several advantages to working in a physical location that would be lost or lessened in a hybrid setting.

For example-

  • They will face the inability to understand the organizational structure and culture.
  • They will have limited exposure to their colleagues and leaders.
  • It will affect trust due to a lack of communication and team-building activities.

Lack Of Proper Equipment Impacts Productivity.

Equipment can range from laptops, stationeries, mobile phones, office supplies to internet connections and ergonomic furniture.

Let’s not deny, we’ve all worked from our beds during the pandemic. Numerous studies suggest that working from a bed can be harmful to both the mind and the body. Poor working posture can cause headaches and back pain, affecting productivity.

When most companies provide this equipment and supplies to in-person employees, refusing to provide or reimburse remote and hybrid employees for these expenses is a clear sign of a hostile work environment.

There Is Ever-Increasing Isolation And Resentment Among Employees.

Social isolation is an evil that comes along with a hybrid workplace. This isolation is often caused by employees’ feelings of exclusion rather than a lack of engagement with their co-workers. According to a 2020 Igloo survey, nearly 60% of all teleworkers say they don’t have access to specific information because managers shared it in person. Furthermore, 55% say they’ve been left out of meetings because they aren’t physically present.

Long working hours (a supposed by-product of remote work) that result in overwork can also lead to genuine burnout for these employees

Eurofound study discovered that mobile employees have much greater stress levels. For example, 41% of them regard themselves as “very stressed,” compared to only 25% of those who do not work remotely. Furthermore, 42% of teleworkers (at home or on the go) say they wake up multiple times per night (compared to 29 percent of those who do not telework).

A Hybrid Workplace, If Not Appropriately Managed, Can Negatively Impact Employee Engagement.

It also has its own set of other complexities, particularly when it comes to fostering employee engagement. It erodes the proven organizational norms that trust, cohesion and shared experiences are necessary for culture and performance.

It calls for the creation of two distinct cultures: one in the office and one online. As a result, managers may find it difficult to supervise and engage their distributed teams.

The Top 4 Ways To Keep Employees Engaged In The Hybrid Workplace

1.Encourage Creativity
We must be creative in bringing people together to facilitate a high level of connectivity amongst distributed workforces. Managers should check on employees to learn about their interests, hobbies, or how they spent their weekends. Contests and activities like a fun zoom icebreaker session can help employees feel more connected and foster team bonding. Doing these is especially crucial for younger generations who look for meaning, purpose and connection in their work.

2.Provide The Right Equipment
Even if employees work from home, organizations must be conscious of their working environment. Simple things like their desk setup, availability of a high-end microphone or speaker, and adequate lighting can enhance the employee experience.  It must promote comfort and alleviate medical issues for remote workers. So, leaders must provide employees with the necessary equipment ahead of time.

3.Minimize Burnout
We need to help employees set limits, especially since the current work-life balance is practically non-existent. Advise them to turn off email and work notifications after working hours and encourage them to take breaks during the day. Encouraging them to participate in some wellness activities can help them feel and perform better.

We can minimize burnout by having well-defined meeting agendas with specific goals. Identify the people who need to attend a meeting, for example. It can make the most efficient use of everyone’s time while also making each employee feel valued and productive.

4.Prioritize Employee Recognition
Workplace incentives and perks must be well-structured to engage the employees. It would help if you recognized extraordinary effort, new ideas, team contributions and leadership by implementing a great employee recognition program.

As new technologies emerge, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. However, the ultimate goal that every hybrid workplace should strive for will revolve around the above employee engagement practices.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Report | Hybrid Working 2021

Customers accepted reduced service as companies shifted to working from home, but now expect a return to ‘normal service’ with improved response times and a stronger customer experience. Those that invest in good technology, rather than relying on declining customer goodwill, will generate a better experience and potentially stronger sales.

The challenge facing businesses is how to resume a professional service while simultaneously adapting to the new norm: hybrid working. The answer lies in empowering customer-facing staff with the right tools that not only let them work from home as seamlessly as they work from the office or call centre, but also allow customers to interact how they prefer, says Dave Harrison, head of sales and marketing at 4Sight Comms.

Businesses should start at the edge to understand staff needs, their precise roles and define what they need in terms of functionality and technology – this will be the blueprint for a business’ core platform. For example, a customer service agent at a startup may be perfectly suited to replying to customers via Whatsapp, either at home or in the office, while an established business with a higher customer count may need a more technological solution, such as an artificial intelligence-powered web chat.

Harrison says: “The right technology brings together the choice of the customer with the choice of the customer service agent, but at the same time maintains the security, control and analytical capability that you so desperately need as a business. That’s where 4Sight Communications comes in with our access to Mitel technology.”

Mitel powers more than 2 billion business connections with cloud, enterprise and next-generation collaboration applications. Its solutions are well adapted to hybrid working because agents can efficiently handle voice and digital media contacts anywhere from a ‘single pane of glass’ comprising phone, email, web chat, SMS and social media. This type of advanced technology delivers excellent customer service in a hybrid working environment because, according to Mitel’s own research, most customers would rather interact through digital channels including web chat, SMS, chatbots and social media.

Moreover, automated forms of self-service, such as chatbots and virtual agents, can help address many of today’s customer experience shortcomings. Research by Mitel indicates that these next-generation technologies translate into better forms of customer service. Therefore, businesses need to work out which channels their customers prefer and equip staff with the options to access them either from home or in the office.

The added benefit is that businesses can get their hands on analytics that provide valuable insights into employee performance and identify weak spots. Supervisors monitor and manage agent and queue performance and are alerted when service levels are below target. Live analytics include insights such as average response time per media channel. Historical analytics include call recording and quality monitoring, which provide supervisors with the ability to listen to and score agent interactions.

Harrison says: “A business can track the availability of agents irrespective of a hybrid working location. This gives businesses the ability to cope with customer demand both proactively, with an understanding of volumes and trends, and reactively should additional resources need to be added to cope with unexpected surges.”

The good news is that it’s never been easier or cheaper to tap into top tech. Businesses can sign up to an affordable, monthly subscription service to Mitel via 4Sight Communications, instead of allocating significant capital expenditure to a proprietary platform. All you need to do is work out what hybrid working means to you as a business and how customers want to interact.

Harrison says: “Businesses need to embrace change, find new lanes of opportunity and fill them with the right technology that empowers people to fulfil their working aspirations with the aspirations of the organisation that they’re working for.”

This article was first published by Raconteur.

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Why Hybrid Working is So Much More than Just Remote-First

As of early June 2021, less than one-third of U.S. office workers (about 28%) are back in their physical buildings―and many who are home want to keep it that way.

A survey found 39% of U.S. adults would consider quitting if they’re not given flexibility about remote work. There’s a long list of reasons behind this desire, including lingering concerns over safety and health, looming childcare issues, and the sheer fact that many feel they have proven they can do their jobs just as well remotely.

This isn’t to say employees don’t miss face-to-face time with colleagues. In fact, another study found 67% of workers want more in-person time with coworkers. It’s no surprise then that one in five employers had already moved to the hybrid model in the spring and almost half had plans to do so by the summer.

When we think about hybrid, we often picture employees either sitting at home or commuting to the office. But there’s a wide range of hybrid options in between, including coffee shops, shared workspaces and even checking email from your hotel room while on a family vacation. And while the focus for the past year and a half has been primarily on remote workers, we think it’s time for companies to give a little love to the office space again.

How can you make it easier for office-first people to work in a hybrid environment? The right unified communications solution makes all your hybrid workers happy, especially those who have made the physical office their home. Not sure where to start? Check out these four tips from our expert team.

1. Give Them Space

Just because an employee is back in the physical office doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about their health and safety. In fact, many people who’ve been in the office the majority of the time since the pandemic hit have probably become quite accustomed to an empty and quiet office space. The return of hybrid workers will be just as much of an adjustment for them as it will be for those who’ve been at home.

Social distancing should remain in effect as much as possible to ease the transition of hybrid workers back into the physical work environment. Everyone can still get the full benefit of face-to-face meetings, team collaboration and casual conversation without making office-first workers feel like their space has been invaded.

2. Give Them A Permanent Home

While it may make sense for people splitting their time between remote and in-office work to hot desk, office-first employees should have a dedicated workspace when possible. They’ll benefit from being able to come in every day knowing everything they need to do their job is right where they left it, and they won’t have to worry about whether or not the area they’re working in has been properly sanitized.

This may seem like a small gesture, but it can go a long way in saying “thank you” to office-first workers. Hybrid workers will also know exactly where to find their office-first coworkers on the days they come in, making it easier for them to work together on projects and collaborate.

3. Make It Feel Like Everyone Is Back In The Office

It may be a while before everyone is back in the office all the time (in fact, who knows if the day will ever come). But managers can make it feel like everyone is in the same room with the right unified communications technology. An all-in-one solution that lets colleagues communicate and collaborate across regions and time zones knocks down virtual walls.

MiCollab from Mitel, for instance, gives employees a single application for voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing and collaboration. Collaborative workspaces keep everyone connected. Team members can share notes, files and status updates on projects just as easily as if everyone were together. Outlook and calendar integration lets people know who is available and where they are at any given time. Both planned and impromptu meetings are more productive with such features as desktop sharing and document collaboration.

4. Transform The In-Office Huddle Room

Videoconferencing is a great way to keep face-to-face interactions going for the hybrid workforce, but now businesses can take it to the next level and transform the in-office huddle space with a single, unified communications solution. With MiTeam Meetings, you can connect your laptop to the video hardware already in the office conference room and get all the benefits of MiTeam.

Coworkers can use the multi-pane view for up to 16 attendees or the active speaker view to focus attention where it needs to be at any given moment. Colleagues can meet both in-person and virtually, share notes and store files. The best part? The team can return to the same workspace in the next meeting for quick access to persistent chat logs, important documents and more. It’s a powerful yet simple way to keep office-first workers connected and engaged with hybrid colleagues, meeting after meeting.

While remote work will continue, it’s been center stage for well over a year now. It’s time to put the spotlight back on in-office workers and make sure they have the tools required to be productive and happy as they workforce shifts to a hybrid model. Unified communications technology keeps everyone connected and engaged―from home, the office and everywhere in between.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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3 Essential Steps for Planning Your Path to the Cloud

With summer here and restrictions being lifted, you might be thinking a trip of some sort is in order. Once you figure out where you want to go, you’ll probably start taking a closer look at the best way to get there. Planes, trains and automobiles are good options to get further, faster. But maybe you’re not looking for speed, and are more interested in a hiking, cycling or sailing journey that gives you more opportunities to enjoy the view along the way.

The concept of planning a journey is familiar to almost everyone. The task can be a little daunting for extended or complex, multi-stop trips, but in general, we understand how to get from here to there. 

The same is not typically true for businesses that are planning their path to a cloud-based communications system. It’s generally accepted that all roads eventually lead to the cloud, but choosing the optimal path to get there is an unfamiliar task for most businesses. This is not a journey they’ve taken before, so the options to get from here to there aren’t inherently obvious. 

The paths to the cloud are as diverse as the crisscrossed highways, railroads and airways you can take across the nation. Since each business is unique with its own personality and communications system requirements, the path to the cloud will be different for each business. And it will be structured to meet the unique communications needs of the business along the way. Some organizations are unencumbered and can go directly to the cloud, while others may require a more scenic route.

While each business must follow their own path to the cloud, there are three key steps every business should take.

1. Assess Your Communications Needs For Today And Tomorrow

To help determine the right path to the cloud for your business, ask yourself the six questions below. The answers to these questions will help you develop a strategy for modernizing your communications systems that fits the way your business works today, and the way you would like it to work tomorrow.

  1. How do my employees collaborate?
  2. How does my organization handle customer interactions?
  3. Do our systems integrate well and do they improve efficiency?
  4. Are we taking advantage of our system by staying current with all the new features available, or are we behind on updates?
  5. Do we need to move to the cloud to improve efficiency, or can we do more with what we have?
  6. How are we prepared to harness cloud technologies when it’s time to make the move?

Don’t forget to update your modernization strategy as your requirements change. This will ensure your communications system continues to be a strategic asset that sharpens your competitive edge as your business grows.

2. Understand The Cloud Options Available

It’s important to remember that shifting your communications capabilities to the cloud is not an all or nothing decision. And there isn’t just one type of cloud. Understanding the basics of each approach to cloud communications will help you choose the right communications solutions at each stage of your journey:

  • public cloud is an online service that’s fully hosted and managed by a public cloud provider. It functions a bit like an apartment complex. Each business that rents cloud space has its own, secure space within the larger infrastructure. 

    With a public cloud, you can easily add new communications features and functions whenever needed, and you don’t need to spend time or money installing, managing, maintaining or upgrading servers or other hardware on your own premises. These benefits make public cloud a great option for small businesses and startups that don’t want to invest in full-scale network management and IT staff. 

    • A private cloud provides communications services within the confines of an internal, private network that’s protected from outside intrusion by a firewall, most likely your own company’s firewall. 

    A private cloud is the best option for companies where security is a major concern because you have full control over who and what can access the information within your private cloud environment. However, you do need to take on responsibility for detecting, protecting against and mitigating the risks associated with potential data breaches on the network.

    • A hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud features to provide the best of both worlds: Security with scalability, and less complexity with more control. 

    A hybrid cloud is a good choice for businesses that want the benefits and control of a private cloud as well as the flexibility to deploy and manage unified communications applications and contact center features in the way that makes the most sense for their business. 

3. Choose A Technology Partner To Help Navigate The Way

While solo travel is definitely a trend, most journeys are smoother when you travel with a co-pilot who can help you navigate all of the twists and turns along the way. You’re even less likely to run into unexpected hurdles and delays when your travel partner has been to the destination before. Your journey to the cloud is no exception.

Working with a technology partner such as 4Sight Communications, gives you access to trained experts who can help you smoothly navigate all the different paths to the cloud. We have a deep understanding of the pros and cons of the different cloud options and can recommend migration strategies and solutions based on where your business communications system is today, and where you need it to be tomorrow. 4Sight is fully prepared to answer your questions, and to partner closely with you throughout your journey to the cloud and beyond.

Here’s a very brief overview of some of the strategies and solutions we will discuss with you to simplify your journey to the cloud:

  • software assurance program that provides easy access to the latest communications capabilities, ensures software versions are always current and compatible and keeps security fixes up to date. Your communications system is proactively monitored for performance and remains standards compliant. And your teams have access to online training to help them work more efficiently.
  • Applications and integrations that let you seamlessly add collaboration and contact center features and functions to your existing system.
  • Subscription payment models that make it easier to get current and do more with existing systems, and to migrate to the cloud, with predictable costs.

Get More Information

For more information about how you can start planning your journey to the cloud, read the eBook You Can Get There From Here: Profiles of a Cloud Migration Candidate.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How Great Communications Lead to Great Customer Experiences

Like me, you’ve no doubt enjoyed some truly awesome experiences as a customer as well as some you’d rather not remember at all. If you think back to those experiences—good and bad—you’ll very likely find that your communications with the organization in question was central to your experience.

The words people use when they communicate with us as customers, their tone, written or verbal and the channels they use all influence our perception of the experience. And that experience determines how much we’re willing to spend at a business, our recommendations (or lack thereof) to friends, family and colleagues and whether we’ll do business with that organization again.

According to the 2020 Microsoft Global State of Customer Service report, 90 percent of customers consider the quality of customer service when deciding whether to remain loyal to a brand. And 58 percent of customers won’t hesitate to end the relationship if their expectations for high-quality customer service aren’t met. 

A positive customer experience has an even greater impact on business. A recent Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report says that 92 percent of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer experience.

You Have The Apps Needed To Meet Customer Expectations

If you haven’t updated your business communications system with integrated, cloud-based apps for voice, data and video communications and collaboration, now is the time to do that. Without these apps, it will be extremely difficult to deliver experiences that will meet customer expectations and keep them coming back to your business. 

While third-party apps are often used as a quick-fix solution for messaging and video communications, they aren’t a long-term solution. There’s simply too much risk these disjointed point solutions will lead to a disjointed customer experience. 

When your communications and collaboration apps are seamlessly integrated with your existing communications system, you have many more opportunities to impress customers with your flexibility, responsiveness and commitment to meeting their needs.

Integrated, Omnichannel Communications Let You Get Personal With Customers

In today’s era of digital communications, your customers expect to be able to connect with your business using their preferred channel—whether that’s voice, email, messaging, web chat, social media or video. 

While we tend to focus on messaging, chat and social media communications these days, voice and email aren’t going away any time soon. In a recent study of 2,500 business professionals across five countries, 97 percent of respondents said these traditional forms of communications are among the communications methods they use most frequently on a daily basis. And speaking with your customers helps you deliver a more human experience that strengthens the connection and shows you want to engage with them. 

The key is to deliver omnichannel communications in a way that allows your teams to smoothly switch between channels as conversations with customers evolve. Maybe a conversation starts with messaging or web chat, but a voice conversation is needed to streamline and accelerate the back and forth. Or maybe you need to spontaneously switch from a voice conversation to a video conversation so customers can show you what they’re talking about. 

The only way to seamlessly shift between channels during conversations is to use fully integrated communications and collaboration apps. If you have to stop using one app, then launch a different app to switch to a more appropriate channel for the conversation, there’s a risk the conversation will be dropped. There’s also a risk customers will become frustrated with the experience and abandon the conversation—and your business. 

Connected Teams Meet Customer Needs Faster

Delivering a great customer experience is a team sport. Whether your staff are on the front line, communicating directly with customers or working behind-the-scenes to support customer-facing colleagues, they all need the ability to instantly communicate, collaborate and share knowledge. With these capabilities, dispersed team members can quickly and easily join forces to meet customer requirements and expectations no matter where they are, or what device they’re using.

While your teams probably aren’t on the road as often as they used to be, they are very likely working from a much wider variety of locations than they were in the past. This fact needs to be completely invisible to customers. No customer wants to hear the phrase, “I’ll have to get back to you on that,” then find themselves having to engage in a subsequent conversation at a later time to get an answer.

When staff can seamlessly connect and collaborate with their co-workers during a conversation with customers, no matter what channel they’re using, your business comes across as more responsive and helpful. This level of integrated team work is only possible if you’re using a single app that provides voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and collaboration capabilities. 

Happy Employees Help Make Happy Customers

It’s easy to see how customers can become frustrated when their customer service experience is sub-par. But, it’s equally important to recognize that your staff can also become frustrated if they don’t have the tools and technologies needed to effectively serve and support your customers. They want your business to be successful, and they want to play a role in building that success.

Once again, think back to your own experiences. I’ve certainly spoken to customer service representatives who have expressed their frustration or disappointment at the limited options available to help me get the information or services I needed. You probably have too. In the end, you’re both frustrated and disappointed. 

Conversely, I’ve also had experiences with customer service representatives where I’ve thought, “wow, you can do that—awesome.” The person was happy, cheerful and able to make connections across internal departments, and sometimes global geographies, to ensure I received the information I needed and had a great experience. 

There’s no question about which experience you want your teams to deliver.

Modern Communications Systems Meet Modern Needs

If you’re using a Mitel MiVoice communications platform, it’s easy to upgrade to a modern communications system that meets modern needs. All of the integrated, cloud-based apps you need to deliver more efficient and helpful customer service experiences are ready and waiting for you. 

It’s simply a matter of updating your system to include apps such as Mitel MiTeam Meetings. This integrated solution seamlessly connects to your existing infrastructure and is an ideal replacement for the disjointed third-party apps you may be relying on today.

To learn more about which apps make the most sense for your business and customer service goals, contact 4Sight today. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Is Hybrid the Future or Just a Temporary Solution?

When all non-essential workers shifted to remote work last year, many employees thoroughly enjoyed the extra time at home. With our commutes gone, we had more time to spend with our families and for self-care. There was finally time to work out or read that book sitting on our nightstand. We saved money too, as our need for gas, dry cleaning and eating out all but disappeared.

But then the honeymoon ended. All of a sudden, we found ourselves wishing for just a few minutes away from our kids or spouse. The workday seemed to drag on forever as the lines between work and home blurred. Depression and mental anxiety set in as we longed for the social interaction we all need and crave as human beings.

As fully remote work begins to phase out for many, the new norm is hybrid―the flexibility to mix up our workdays between home, the office and anywhere in between. The question now is: Does hybrid have the legs to become the true future of work or will it (like its remote sibling) become a temporary, fleeting solution?

We think hybrid is here to stay, and we have plenty of data that shows it’s a long-lasting trend. Here are three reasons why and three tips on how to make sure your business is ready for the long haul.

3 Reasons Hybrid Is The New Norm

1. Employees prefer the hybrid approach: When polled, the majority of employees said they prefer the flexibility that comes with the hybrid model. But just how badly do they want it? One survey found a resounding 75% of workers would be willing to give up at least one benefit or perk in exchange for the freedom to choose where they work. Additionally, more than 25% of employees would be willing to part with significant benefits such as cash bonuses and healthcare benefits in order to have this flexibility.

2. The C-suite is committed: Executives are also on board with hybrid, with 79% of the C-suite reporting they plan on letting employees split their time between remote locations and corporate offices if it fits their job role. More than three-fourths (76%) of execs are also likely to issue a stipend to employees who work from home or a co-working space.

3. It’s better for business: Since the majority of employees want the hybrid work model to stay, it follows that companies offering this flexibility will benefit from higher employee engagement. More engaged employees have a positive impact on business performance. A recent Gallup analysis compared companies in the top quartile for engagement with those in the bottom quartile. Businesses ranked in the top for employee engagement saw gains in profitability (23%), customer loyalty (10%), sales productivity (18%), overall employee well-being (66%), quality (41%) and lower absenteeism (81%) when compared to those with the lowest employee engagement.

3 Ways To Keep Hybrid Workers Happy

With all signs pointing to hybrid becoming a long-term solution well past the honeymoon phase, businesses need to start adapting now to make sure they can keep hybrid workers happily humming along for years to come. It all comes down to the three Cs: culture, communications and collaboration.

1. Create a hybrid-friendly culture: It may be hard to predict exactly the right culture required to fully support a thriving hybrid environment, but smart businesses will begin to make changes now and then adjust as needed. First and foremost, the culture must be focused around choice: the ability to choose where (and, in some cases, when) employees work. The mindset of working nine to five sitting in a cubicle should be cast aside. If a team member is more productive working from six in the morning to two in the afternoon on remote days, why not allow it? When employees have support from the top ranks to take ownership of how they work, you’ll find in most cases work gets done faster (and to a higher level of quality).

2. Provide the necessary tools for communications: Executives are already planning to invest in hybrid work. Wisely, the top area in which they plan to invest is tools for virtual collaboration, with 72% of executives stating as much in PWC’s US Remote Work Survey. Team workspaces, real-time instant messaging and desktop sharing keep employees connected whether they’re at home, in the office or a local coffee shop. Be sure to look for communications technology that offers a single experience across multiple devices, so it’s easy for employees to switch between work environments without any hassle. Mitel Teamwork, for instance, provides a consistent experience from desktop to mobile. Users can even start a conversation on one device and seamlessly continue it on another.

3. Collaborate to stay one step ahead: Hybrid is unchartered territory for many employees and managers. The best way to ensure your business can quickly adapt to the changing needs of all staff is to encourage collaboration at all times . Fortunately, your communications technology can help you accomplish this with voice, video and chat capabilities to keep everyone connected. A flexible and scalable solution gives companies the agility needed to implement changes on-the-fly, so you can rest assured you can make hybrid work today and well into the future.

Companies may not have a crystal ball to predict what the workplace will look like in five years, but the data strongly suggests all signs point to hybrid. Make the right investments now in the culture and communications technology needed to become a leader and reap the benefits of a happy and healthy hybrid home for your employees.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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3 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Let Your Communications System Fall Behind

We’ve all watched high-performance athletes lose a race by mere fractions of a second. Whether the athlete is running on a track, racing down a ski hill or skimming across a swimming pool, it’s compelling to watch. It’s also heartbreaking, because that margin, no matter how small, meant the difference between winning the race and being left behind.

The business world isn’t much different. Competition is extremely tight in almost every industry. It’s all-too-easy to be left behind by competitors who are faster to market, work more efficiently and do more to keep their customers happy. 

Your business systems are key to increasing your competitive edge and winning the race, no matter what industries or markets you serve. Every system you rely on must reliably operate at peak performance levels at all times. Especially your business communications system.

Your business communications system is at the heart of every strategy and tactic you employ to stay ahead of the competition. It is the lifeblood of your organization. And if you don’t keep this vital business system in peak condition, you’re far more likely to fall behind.

There are many reasons you can’t afford to let your communications system fall behind, but here are three important ones.

Seamless Communications Accelerates Time To Market

It takes unconstrained teamwork across every area of your organization to get new offerings to market faster. Every member of every team needs the ability to quickly and easily connect, collaborate and share information, from anywhere, at any time.

If your communications system isn’t up-to-date, your teams can’t leverage the latest features and functions available in the web, mobile and desktop applications they rely on to stay connected. Like high-performance athletes, your teams need every advantage they can get. No matter how seemingly small that advantage is, it makes a difference — especially if you multiply the effects across your entire organization.

Keeping your communications system up to date means your teams always have the most recent voice, messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing and file sharing capabilities at their fingertips.

Depending on how long your communications system has languished without updates, getting current could bring you entirely new capabilities that will jumpstart collaboration initiatives across your teams.

Lost Productivity Is More Expensive Than You Think

In a 2019 survey of 2,500 business professionals across five countries, respondents said they spend half of the average workday communicating and collaborating. They also said about 13 percent of their day is wasted due to communications inefficiencies. When you add up the lost time, those inefficiencies cost more than $10,000 per employee, per year.

But productivity losses aren’t only measured in dollars. Almost half of the survey respondents also said that inefficient communications and collaboration had created friction with co-workers and with other departments. While these types of losses are more difficult to quantify, no business can afford them.

Communications technologies and the systems that deliver them are constantly evolving to deliver more features and functionality that are key to making communications and collaboration more efficient. The capabilities that were cutting-edge just a short while ago are no longer at the forefront of what’s available. Your staff knows this, and they’re looking for you to provide more efficient solutions.

Of the 2,500 survey respondents, only 15 percent of respondents felt their current communications technology had poor features. But 80 percent felt productivity would increase with better communications tools.

If you look at these statistics in another way, it seems employees are saying “we like what we have, but it needs to be enhanced.” The easiest way to deliver on this requirement is to keep your communications system fully up to date with the latest enhancements all the time.

A Great Customer Experience Depends On Great Communications

We’ve already shared a few statistics in this article, but we could fill pages with the statistics that confirm a better customer experience leads to increased business revenues.

The communications that customers have with your organization are central to their experience, and those revenue increases. The key is to ensure your customers have a great experience at every touchpoint across your organization. To do this, you need to look beyond your contact center technology and the service delivered by your contact center agents, and take a holistic approach to the customer journey.

According to customer experience consultants, Temkin Group, “every single person in a company plays a direct or indirect role in determining whether it provides consistently good or consistently bad human or digital interactions.”

Your business communications system plays a major role in those human and digital interactions. When evaluating the current state of your communications system, think about how:

  • Customers interact with your sales team and employees located at remote sites
  • Your internal teams connect and collaborate to deliver on customer requirements, especially when customized solutions are required, delivery dates change or supply chain issues slow down processes

If your communications system doesn’t provide the capabilities needed to ensure customers have the best possible experience, they can become disillusioned with your organization. They might assume the outdated communications system they encountered when they called your sales team reflects the overall state of your organization. And they might assume the challenges they’re experiencing with their order or inquiry is due to lack of effort or care, rather than internal disconnects caused by out-of-date communications technology.

Don’t Let Your Communications System Slow You Down

With these few examples, it’s easy to see that if your communications system falls behind, your business can also fall behind.

If you’re using Mitel MiVoice Business for communications and collaboration, there’s an easy way to reduce the risk of falling behind. Simply renew or reactivate your Mitel Software Assurance subscription.

Mitel Software Assurance ensures your MiVoice Business system always has the best, most up-to-date software and features for voice, data, and video communications and collaboration. Your software is also protected with the latest security fixes to reduce security vulnerabilities.

In addition, you can choose to receive proactive fault reporting and performance analytics so any system issues can be dealt with before they impact your business. And, if you run into issues that can’t be resolved by your Mitel certified partner, they can contact our technical experts for added support.

If high-performance athletes could easily access new capabilities that would help them edge-out the competition, they surely would. High-performance companies need to do the same.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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When it Comes to your Communications System, Complacency is Risky Business

The well-known saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was popularized in the mid-1970s by Bert Lance, director of the Office of Management and Budget in U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s government. In many situations, the saying makes sense. We can all think of examples where the risk factors associated with trying to improve a perfectly functioning system would very likely outweigh the rewards.

This is not the case with your business communications system. In fact, the opposite is true, and the risks associated with maintaining the status quo are extremely high.

You Can’t Afford To Stand Still

It’s easy enough to be lulled into complacency. The best communications systems are virtually invisible in your organization. Your teams, customers and partners rely on the integrated voice, data and video capabilities these systems provide to stay connected, collaborate and work more efficiently. But the system itself fades into the background, a silent business enabler that can perform for years without issue.

Unfortunately, even the most reliable communications systems become vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks if they’re not regularly updated with the latest system software and security patches.

Cybercriminals also work silently and invisibly, but they’re always improving their tactics. These bad actors are constantly introducing new attack vectors, unleashing more sophisticated threats and looking for systems with older, more vulnerable software they can target. The longer the software has been neglected, the more likely it is that someone can find a way to exploit its vulnerabilities.

We’ve seen what can happen when businesses and business systems aren’t ready for unexpected events. When millions of workplaces around the world suddenly found themselves shifting to virtual operations and remote working in 2020, cybercriminals saw an opportunity they couldn’t resist. And they struck with a vengeance. According to cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, cybersecurity intrusions around the world grew 400 percent in 2019 and 2020 combined. The term “cyber pandemic” was used in numerous online articles focused on the dramatic increase.

Proactive Software Updates And Security Fixes Protect Communications Systems

The explosive use of mass communications solutions was a major factor in the steep increase in cyberattacks. According to Devin Partida, editor-in-chief of ReHack.com, hackers target the tools people use most frequently because they offer the highest chance of success. No doubt, we all remember the sudden spate of video call intrusions in 2020.

Maybe your communications system hasn’t been hacked, but why continue to take the risk? No business can afford for its vital communications system to be compromised or shut down by cyberattacks. Internal teams lose productivity. Partners lose touch with your business. And perhaps worst of all, customers lose trust in your business.

A proactive service, such as Mitel Software Assurance, helps ensure your business is ready to smoothly handle unexpected events and cyberattacks on your communications system. Your Mitel MiVoice communications platform is always up-to-date with the latest software and features, and it’s protected with fixes that address security flaws and close security holes that could be exploited.

Protecting your MiVoice communications platform helps protect your business. It also allows you to take advantage of the latest features to ensure the system delivers maximum value to your organization over the long term.

The Cloud Is Ideal To Support Remote And Hybrid Workforces

In addition to ensuring your MiVoice Business system is fully up-to-date, you also need to start thinking about your next move.

Some of the changes you implemented to deal with the pandemic will likely remain in place as you and your teams take advantage of convenient and cost-effective new ways of working. That means it’s time to take a closer look at cloud-based communications solutions.

A purpose-built cloud solution makes it easy to provide unified and scalable communications to anyone, anywhere, on any device. Your entire organization benefits from increased mobility, richer team collaboration and better ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences. And you no longer have to worry about managing, scaling or securing a premises-based system. Outdated technologies, obsolete systems and invisible vulnerabilities are no longer a costly IT issue or a risk to your business.

When planning your migration to the cloud, there are a number of factors to consider. Public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds each have their own benefits. And new cloud technologies are emerging all the time. You’ll also need to consider which communications systems, programs and applications it makes sense to access from the cloud.

Your learning curve is faster and easier when you choose Mitel cloud solutions because you already know us, and you know what our solutions bring to your organization. The only difference is those critical capabilities are now hosted in the cloud.

For example, you can take full advantage of our partnerships with global technology leaders to benefit from systems such as MiCloud Flex or MiCloud Connect and leverage the cloud to integrate voice, chat, video, collaboration and customer experience in one, easy to use system.

It’s a lot to navigate, but a Mitel certified partner can help you make the right decisions for your current requirements, long-term goals and budget. With their experience and understanding of cloud-based communications, and our solutions, you’ll have everything needed to smoothly transition to the cloud in the way that makes the most sense for your organization. And as new technologies become mainstream, our certified partners will help you integrate those technologies in innovative ways so you can unlock all the capabilities cloud communications has to offer.

Whatever Path You Choose, It’s Time To Get Going

Whether your next steps are to immediately start planning your migration to the cloud, or to simply get current and stay current with software assurance services, now is the time to make your move.

As we all know from bitter experience, making decisions in advance is far easier, and far more cost-effective, than making panic-based decisions after an emergency has struck. Or, to quote another old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While this statement was first made by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s, it definitely applies to today’s communications systems.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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3 Tips for a Happy and High-Performing Workforce

Remote and hybrid work are here to stay, but they present new challenges for organizational leadership. How do you foster productivity and keep employees happy in this new normal?

It’s useful to start with an understanding of why employees overwhelmingly prefer remote workIn a recent survey, remote workers say they value: flexible schedules (32%), the ability to work from anywhere (25%), the lack of a commute (22%) and more time with family (11%).

And yet, they also have concerns. Two-thirds of employees worry they’ll miss out on career opportunities if they continue working remotely, McKinsey research shows, while almost half (49%) say they feel burned-out after the pandemic.

Leaders can use these desires and concerns as starting points for reimagining the workplace and company culture. Cultivating a happy and highly productive workforce will require both new policies and a new approach to management. Here are three tips to help you get it right.

Flexibility: A Workforce Advantage

In the war for talent, companies that are flexible about where and when employees work will gain an advantage. Thirty-nine percent of employees say they would consider quitting their jobs if employers didn’t offer flexibility, and the percentage was even higher―at 49%―among Millennial and Gen Z workers.

This doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the 9-to-5 paradigm altogether. In fact, 68% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic say they favor returning to a hybrid workplace, compared to 26% who say they prefer permanent remote work.

Instead, flexible work conditions and giving employees more control over when and where they work can make organizations more attractive to workers. Options such as flexible hours, no-meeting days and training resources that focus on improving communications skills in digital media are likely to be viewed positively by potential job candidates. However, to make such changes stick, managers will need to instil new company values and let go of long-held attitudes that performance and advancement are contingent on being in the office.

Emotional Intelligence: Be Attuned To Stress Points

In America and Canada, 57% of workers reported higher stress levels in 2020 than their colleagues in Western Europe, where stress actually declined. Yet other research shows one-third of professionals say their overall performance and quality of work improved. Indeed, employees reported having more time to focus on professional growth by reading more (35%), taking online courses (34%) and continuing their education (29%).

Managers should lean into what worked. Providing opportunities for growth and learning have been known to improve performance. But the leaders of tomorrow will also need to be attuned to the causes of stress, anxiety and burn-out.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence will be quick to identify when an employee is showing signs of distress. They can take steps to alleviate stressors or improve the situation. For instance, they can lend an empathetic ear to a troubled employee. Other steps, like setting rules so that everyone has a chance to talk in team meetings or establishing “no video” days to reduce fatigue can also improve employee happiness. IT can play a role too by ensuring the right communications and collaboration tools are in place so everyone is on the same page and no one feels left behind or out of the loop.

Collaboration: Rethink The Workday

The hybrid workforce will be comprised of several types of employees. The fully remote worker is one who rarely or perhaps never comes into the office. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the 100% in-the-office employee. Then there’s the hybrid worker, who follows a 3-2-2 schedule: three days in the office, two days remote and two days off. Other models are also likely to emerge. Some employees may spend three consecutive weeks working remotely and only week in the office for the last week of every month.

This diversity of schedules has the potential to make it very difficult for managers to foster higher productivity. Cohesiveness is a vital element of a high-performing team. But when members are rarely together in the same room, this quality may feel elusive. Managers may be tempted to turn to a traditional solution: the team meeting.

Meetings can be productive and help achieve cohesion, but they can also have the opposite effect. During the pandemic, employees faced schedules of back-to-back meetings, contributing to both fatigue and stress. It’s tiring to be on-camera for several hours at a time, and overscheduling often doesn’t leave enough time for actual work to get done.

That’s why managers need to rethink the workday. Gartner suggests rebalancing the workload between synchronous (working together) and asynchronous (working alone) approaches. The analyst firm points out there has been an overreliance on synchronous modes, leading to a negative effect on health.

Although companies have invested in virtual technologies during the pandemic, there’s clearly room for improvement. When it comes to policies that will improve productivity and employee well-being, 34% of employees ranked setting clear hours for collaboration and when to be online as the top policy, according to McKinsey’s findings. At number two was “robust standardized and integrated virtual collaboration tools,” according to 29% of employees. Shared workspaces and the ability to seamlessly switch between video, voice and chat, for example, make it easy for employees to work with teammates or plug away at a solo task while still having access to project notes and other pertinent information.

Leaders and managers may be facing significant workplace change, but these tips can help them navigate a more complicated environment and even gain a competitive edge in attracting high-performing talent to their organization.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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