Every company is working to find a hybrid work solution, which means productivity tools are no longer a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.” Shockingly, most organizations just deployed something in haste to adapt to work during the pandemic. Using disparate tools that don’t fit into long-term plans, most companies don’t have a way to monitor, update, and upgrade commonly used unified communications and collaboration tools–like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Slack, Fuze, and more.
These unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) tools became the “saviors” of the COVID era that allowed work to happen virtually around the globe. Overnight, online meetings became the norm for conducting meetings, no matter where teams and people were located. This phenomenon didn’t just impact enterprises, but doctors, contractors, SMBs, retailers, and others, too. Case in point, Microsoft Teams usage increased by 260 percent in less than two years, and Zoom meeting participants grew by 2900 percent during the pandemic.
With more than 58.6 percent of Americans working remotely and over 11 million virtual meetings held daily in the U.S. alone, it has become increasingly more challenging for IT to provide direct support. Most tech teams are working with little visibility into what might cause microphone and webcam issues, connectivity and performance problems, login error messages, and more. The biggest challenge facing IT teams today is how to keep everyone productive and up and running despite not necessarily being responsible for what tools are being used in various locations.
How to Guarantee Optimal Virtual Collaboration Experience
When tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams do not work correctly, eliminate friction by adopting common-sense solutions. Consider making the following steps part of your retroactive plan to help IT teams, employees, and even customers experience effective meetings and collaborations from any location.
- Share best practices. With digital transformation continually bringing new tools to the virtual workplace, set your IT teams and employees up for success by equipping them with tips they will want to follow before, during, and after meetings.
- Use the right UC&C tool. Determine which unified communications tool will meet participant needs best before scheduling meetings or collaborating on projects. For example, Zoom is typically better for external meetings, while MS Teams works best for internal meetings for collaborating with people inside your organization.
- Book at the right time. Remember time differences when scheduling meetings across time zones, so you schedule meetings at times that work for everyone. Recording the call can provide a great reference point, reaffirm action items, and be helpful for those who might miss out due to connectivity issues.
- Check your internet connection. Test internet speed before calls. This step is particularly important whenever someone is traveling or working remotely. If someone finds that Wi-Fi connections are operating slowly, personal hotspots might provide the best temporary backup. When team members are consistently on video chats or streaming data, bandwidth may need to be increased.
- Update your software. Don’t wait until the last minute to update your apps. Encourage participants to download the latest version of the UC&C platform before the meeting. Nothing can hold up a meeting like waiting for software updates to download and install.
- Secure your network. With business information traveling over public and home networks, it is essential to establish policies and protocols that add additional layers of security. These steps may include addressing password changes, router updates, VPN access, and proper configuration.
- Set IT up for success. Allow tech teams remote access to all team members’ devices so they can quickly correlate and pinpoint the root cause of problems when people use UC&C tools like Zoom or MS Teams. IT teams need access to quick insights to track the number of calls and meetings, quality of calls, physical endpoint problems, or local network connectivity issues that could cause issues.
- Make sure your technology works. Simple steps will go a long way toward eliminating online collaboration headaches. Encourage everyone to establish a routine to follow at the beginning and end of every workday (e.g., charging headsets, testing microphones and audio settings, etc.) Be aware that issues will still happen and will still arise. But IT teams will want to understand what happened, so they can try to prevent the problems from happening in the future.
- Learn and improve with user feedback. Conduct consistent post-mortems after virtual meetings, video conferences, file transfers, and online training sessions. Ask team members for insights about the quality of their calls. Collect data by asking employees for written feedback and user sentiment scoring that can be used to provide quantitative metrics and qualitative feedback. Since the numbers don’t tell the whole story, use integrated surveys to push out communications that get the other side of the story and help IT pinpoint issues.
While these steps are key to proactively managing challenges when UC&C tools don’t work as intended, remember that these applications are only part of the hybrid workforce technology toolbox. Establishing a dedicated approach and strategy for using all the SaaS apps, collaboration tools, and physical endpoints teams use to remain productive is also important. With digital transformation creating a ripple effect that impacts businesses everywhere, now is the time to put these success tips in place.
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