Learning & Development, Technology

Making Hybrid Work Successful: Strengthening Your Tech Stack

A recent survey shows that nearly seven in ten US workers prefer the option of a hybrid work model, meaning companies that are laser-focused on the Return-To-Work (RTO) movement without flexibility are losing out on top talent. Navigating this shifting work dynamic can be challenging, but today’s workplaces must evolve to meet the needs of the modern workforce.

An organization’s Unified Communications (UC) stack can play an essential role in this evolution. Modern UC solutions go well beyond telephony and, by incorporating omnichannel communication and emerging technologies like AI, are smart investments that allow employers and employees to stay ahead of the curve. When implemented wisely, they can streamline day-to-day work and make the hybrid model as seamless as possible without compromising the employee experience and effectiveness.

Challenges in Migrating to a Hybrid Working Model

One of the biggest challenges organizations often face when fully embracing hybrid work is finding the proper way to ensure navigation across this new landscape of collaboration applications and tools. This has usually meant looking at public cloud deployments. However, that isn’t the only option and, in many cases, not a viable alternative.

Market research by Frost & Sullivan shows that by 2027, more than three-quarters of organizations will be operating hybrid (a blend of cloud and premises-based) telephony environments. That can mean collaboration and conferencing in the public cloud, telephony, and vertical solutions on-premise or in hosted or private clouds. While not all workloads can be migrated to cloud systems, organizations can find a customized mix that works for their specific needs and ensures seamless interoperability between specific tools, simplifying daily work for employees.

Another challenge for the hybrid working model is that remote workers often feel disconnected in these environments. This makes it crucial for company leadership to leverage technology to provide equal opportunities for remote and in-person employees to feel involved, allowing for maximum productivity and a sense of togetherness. Communications solutions need to serve the entire workforce. Leaders must ensure the employee experience is consistent as these two worlds interrelate.

Also, companies exploring a distributed workforce will need to look closer at how they handle the security of business data and the processes in place for protecting communication privacy for individuals. Compliance can be a concern in regulated markets and industries like finance, government, and healthcare, so leaders must ensure that their tools comply with regulations set forth by these verticals.

Tech Solutions: AI & Hybrid Work

Moving forward, there will be a further focus on specific technologies that can impact hybrid work and the ability to work from anywhere. To retain top talent, employers must invest in these technologies, which include 5G, AI, and even automation robotics, to make hybrid work successful. Different communication tools such as team workspaces, collaboration platforms, desktop sharing, specialized vertical devices, and instant messages help keep distributed teams connected. Business leaders need to look for communications technology that offers a single experience across multiple devices so it is easy for employees to switch between work environments without any hassle.

For 5G, it offers enhanced mobility at faster speeds with low latency. This, coupled with support for IoT devices such as a paramedic’s radio, location sensors on hospital equipment, and patient monitoring devices, make it an excellent investment for those looking to explore the hybrid world.

Of course, AI is already being embraced across industries as it streamlines and automates routine processes and how workers communicate. Natural Language Processing (NLP), a machine learning technology, can help with meeting transcription, translation, and summarization to streamline the development of post-meeting materials such as action items and meeting minutes. NLP can also improve video conferencing, document sharing, and more.

The possibilities presented by emerging technologies are immense and will undoubtedly significantly impact the modern workplace in the near future. While it may take some time to fully understand the extent of their benefits, these game-changing innovations are not to be underestimated. Their impact will be profound and far-reaching.

Creating a Seamless Transition

With the continued normalization of hybrid work, there will be a growing emphasis on the integration and interoperability of various UC systems. It will be crucial for all workers to have access to technology that works in tandem with in-office tools that allow for work anytime, anywhere. This is especially true for verticals like healthcare and hospitality. For example, bedside infotainment terminals in hospitals can allow patients to communicate directly with nurses and doctors, even if they are off-site. AI virtual assistants can help during and after a call to recap decisions, follow up on action items, and summarize results.

Other critical capabilities for hybrid workers involve equalizing the remote user experience in meetings with the team in an office conference space. This can be achieved by bringing immersive experience capabilities to conference calls, including augmented reality and AI-supported meeting moderation, to increase meeting effectiveness and remote user engagement.

The Power of Next-Gen UC Solutions

In today’s hybrid work environment, having the right UC solutions can make all the difference. With features that offer flexibility and seamless integration with other technologies like office suites, project management, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms, modern UC solutions aided by AI and immersive experience tech are set to revolutionize how we work.

By investing in such solutions, you can catalyze more efficient work and foster seamless connections between employees and employers, ultimately reducing stress and boosting productivity and engagement.

Luiz Domingos is CTO at Mitel.

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