As business owners embrace virtual events as a cost-effective method to achieve a myriad of goals, including webinars, training, and conferences, it’s important to ensure that effective communication isn’t being traded for bottom-line savings. While it’s unlikely that meeting virtually will completely replace the need for entrepreneurs to meet in person, its ease of adoption and convenience can serve to enhance your business’s productivity.
When you’re in a virtual meeting with a colleague, hiring manager, or client through a conferencing platform like using Jamisi Video Conferencing solution, that virtual environment becomes part of your personal brand. If the virtual meetings you host are plagued by technical issues, unprofessional audio, and distractions, your personal brand will feel rough and chaotic. On the other hand, if you run virtual meetings without any hiccups, your personal brand will feel polished and professional.
As someone who regularly hosts client meetings and webinars via web conference and online platforms, I wanted to share some practical tips on how you can create a memorable and professional personal brand when you’re “meeting” someone virtually.
Here are some tips;
Create A Professional Remote Office
1. Work from a quiet, carpeted room
If your room is empty and uncarpeted, it can result in hollow, echoey audio distracting to others. Carpeted rooms with soft furnishings tend to create the best audio during web conferences. If the room you’re calling from doesn’t have carpet, even putting a rug on the floor and some floor pillows in the room can reduce reverberation and create a warmer sound.
2. Use neutral background
While professional-looking plants, bookcases, or picture frames in your background aren’t necessarily a problem, the safest approach is to simply have a neutral-coloured wall in the background. Shades of grey or white can work especially well. Anything distracting in the background will distract from the content of what you’re saying.
3. Create good lighting
Dimly lit rooms feel unprofessional and dated. Ensure your desk has a strong but soft light that can illuminate your face during your video conference. I recommend having two LED desk lamps with adjustable intensity and hue on either side of your webcam directed toward your face so you can tweak it according to daylight conditions and create uniform lighting on your face. One large lamp can also work.
4. Use laptop, not phone
Believe it or not, many people opt to do conference calls via their smartphones because the apps tend to be very convenient to use. Not a good idea. Use your laptop or desktop computer to make the call, which allows you to easily take notes and have a stable image, which is nearly impossible if you’re holding your phone or trying to balance it on your desk
Ensure Technical Setup Is Sound
1. Test the technology
While you can’t completely avoid technical issues from occurring, you can reduce the likelihood of technical surprises by taking the time to test your web conferencing application well in advance of your virtual meeting or interview. Upon first use, many programs like Microsoft Teams, Whereby, or Zoom need you to explicitly grant screen sharing, audio access, and webcam permissions to the programs that involve restarting the program and/or your system. You’ll want to do in advance.
2. Raise your webcam to eye-level
People tend to put their laptops on their desks during virtual meetings, but this often results in webcams being awkwardly positioned with the camera is tilted up. We’ve all been on calls where you’re looking up the nose of the person on the other end, which can be rather off-putting (and even menacing). Ensure your webcam is at eye level so your image will look more natural, as if you were both sitting across from each other at the same table. The easiest way to do this with a laptop is to simply put it on top of a box.
3. Use a good microphone
I use a MacBook, and the built-in microphone is pretty good for everyday use, but as someone who regularly records interviews with people for my podcast, I’ve found that in the vast majority of cases, external microphones sound better than built-in computer microphones. If you don’t want to invest into an external desk mic, even just switching to the earphones that comes with your phone will create a more intimate, conversational sound profile.
Organizing effective virtual group meetings is critically important for every company seeking to leverage remote teams. Be sure to use the tips above to your benefit to host virtual meetings that are as effective as possible.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many businesses had no choice but to pivot to remote work. They quickly invested in technology that enabled staff to communicate and collaborate more efficiently, wherever they might be located. Work/life balance took on new meaning as “going to the office” became “walking to the kitchen table” and spouses and children became the new office mates overnight. For many workers, it was a dramatic shift.
Now, as businesses begin to reopen, many experts believe remote work will be a permanent part of the business landscape. Twitter and Square, for example, recently announced their employees will have the option to work-from-home (WFH) permanently. Is this a good thing? Are blanket “everyone-work-remotely” policies sustainable, or even desirable?
The Upside—And Downside—Of Working Remotely
For years, working from home was viewed as the ultimate perk. Candidates interviewing for a new job often asked if telecommuting was possible. After all, who doesn’t want to avoid long commutes and distracting workplaces? Or to have the flexibility to work in a way more aligned with their own natural rhythms rather than pigeonholed into a standard 9-to-5 day?
While we rarely talk about the downsides of WFH, they do exist. Examples range from work-related challenges such as limited collaboration and reduced creativity to personal issues, such as loneliness and feelings of isolation. With so many styles of work, it’s no surprise that levels of productivity and work satisfaction can vary greatly from employee to employee.
However, there are tools that managers and organizations can use to mitigate the challenges involved in working from home. Many companies have found creative ways to keep co-workers connected, productive and happy even while they’re dispersed. They’ve learned it’s critical to focus on practices and policies that address emotional and environmental concerns. At the same time, organizations also need to take full advantage of technology that closely mirrors in-person activities.
Here are some of the common downsides of remote work—and a few options for addressing each.
1. Have You Lost Serendipity Along With The Break Room?
Also missing are the casual connections that happen naturally in a physical workspace. Colleagues pass each other in the hallway or chat over a cup of coffee. These chance encounters often spark creativity and innovation. “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions,” he said. “You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say “wow”, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Rediscovering serendipity requires extra effort in the world of remote work. Encourage co-workers to create “thinking time” with each other by picking up the phone or setting up a chat to work through ideas. Some companies have organized morning coffee breaks, just to mirror the kind of interaction that happens in the micro-kitchen. Set up brainstorming video sessions with breakout rooms, so workers can share in more intimate groups, as well as the larger meeting.
2. Has The Boundary Between Work And Home Blurred?
One challenge of working from home is managing the boundaries between home life and work. Among the hardest hit at the start of the pandemic were parents with school-aged children. Juggling home-schooling along with job responsibilities was no easy feat.
Another problem? Too much availability. Due to multiple electronic devices and strong bandwidth, most people are now accessible 24/7—which, many find, isn’t a good thing. According a 2017 United Nations report, the result is more stress for remote workers—41% versus 25% for office workers.
Anecdotally, employees report that their workday has stretched since they started working from home. Research bears this out. In 2019, q cloud infrastructure company conducted a survey of remote tech workers. Over half of respondents reported they worked longer hours than colleagues in the office, and 40% felt they needed to contribute more because of their remote status.
Balancing work and family is often most difficult for employees with children or other caretaking responsibilities. Many workers in this situation feel pulled in too many directions, with not enough time or capacity to properly manage both work and family demands.
Just as employers set expectations for the normal in-office workday, they should lay out parameters for the work-at-home day. Some managers go so far as to only send email during business hours. For employees who are juggling competing priorities, consider working out a more flexible schedule.
3. Technology’s Role In The Future Of Remote Work
Having the right collaboration and communications technology in place is essential. According to the Clutch report, 26% of companies have ramped up their communications technology during COVID-19.
Unified communications allows workers to communicate easily using any device or mode, whether it’s joining a conference call, using the phone, emailing or instant messaging. In addition, the best systems offer a virtual workspace so that team members can share information, assign tasks, schedule meetings and manage projects.
4. Is Your Team Culture Fading?
The lack of in-person—or even virtual—socializing weakens the connections between workers. A recent survey conducted found that companies aren’t doing enough to bridge this gap. One-third (35%) of survey respondents said their company hasn’t hosted any virtual social events since the current wave of remote work began.
Socializing, though, plays a key role in building team cohesive, making it time to move video conference calls beyond meetings with agendas. Instead, foster team spirit by using the technology to bring everyone together in fun ways, for example, virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, meals or games like trivia contests at the end of the workday. Use email or team workspace platforms to share photos, like the “best quarantine snack” or dream vacation spot. Contract with a local yoga studio to provide virtual yoga sessions or midday stretches.
5. Are Your Employees Feeling Exhausted, Lonely And Stressed?
In a global survey of 2,700 employees across over 10 industries conducted during March and April 2020, employees reported higher levels of stress (67%), anxiety (57%) and emotional exhaustion (53%). Of respondents who lacked informal personal contact in their daily lives, 19% reported a decline in their mental health.
Working remotely impacts employees differently. While a parent may feel stressed due to childcare responsibilities, the colleague who lives alone can easily experience depression, loneliness and self-recrimination. Without the reality check of family and friends, it’s easy to misinterpret an email or second guess your every move.
And when communications are only focused on business tasks, remote workers can begin to feel like a mere cog in the machine. The informal personal contact that occurs naturally in a physical workspace takes more effort to replicate in a virtual environment.
Probably those hit hardest are extroverts. They feed on the energy that comes from personal interactions. While an introvert can contentedly sit in front of a computer for most of the day, the extrovert drags under the same circumstances. Depression and a lack of productivity often result.
Many managers schedule check-in calls with employees just to see how things are going, not to discuss work tasks. In a post-pandemic era, companies will have to rethink the types of mental health resources they offer, putting policies and resources in place to help those employees who may struggle with the lack of social contact. To mirror “over the cubicle wall” conversations, some employees may keep a video channel open or use chat to check in with colleagues. After social-distancing mandates end, consider organizing local meetups for those working remotely. Schedule meetings at the office on a quarterly or monthly basis.
Experts predict that the future workplace will be a hybrid, with some work done in the office and some from a remote location.
COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how work is accomplished. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be the same as before. In the post-pandemic workplace, each company will need to find the right balance of policies and technology for their business and culture.
Unified Communications and Collaboration brings internal and external communication within a company together. It improves efficiency and productivity and ensures through more effective communication better dialog experiences with customers. UCC supports companies in unifying diverse strategies — and this, in an integrated, easy to manage solution.
Read in this blog article which challenges UCC can resolve for your company when it comes to being one step ahead through better customer experiences and an optimal customer journey.
More efficiency and optimal productivity are good reasons why UCC is simply more than just one hot communication topic among many. And, in terms of the customer journey, there is more. The time has now come for all companies to be one step ahead of the competition in times of turbulent markets.
Today, customer experiences develop as the ultimate differentiator in modern business. And, agents find it difficult to keep track when customers attempt to establish via numerous channels contact to entrepreneurial brands.
Let us therefore take a closer look at the top challenges UCC can resolve for companies in a competitive market today.
1. Restricted flexibility
For modern companies, flexibility is a critical factor, too. Working at different locations is on the rise and the most experienced employees in customer service and support ask for more versatility from their employers. UCC solutions in particular, which are offered via web-based platforms, offer the requested flexibility at work. If everyone has access to the necessary communication tools irrespective of where they work or the terminal devices used, companies no longer have to restrict themselves to recruiting personnel where they are geographically located.
As your company grows, you can also simultaneously integrate freelancers and other employees throughout the world into your network. In the area of human resources, notable cost savings can also be made through lower ancillary and operating costs as well as expenses for premises for traditional offices. In addition, this means that you could easily offer your customers 24-hour support. An additional service that will serve to improve your reputation on the market.
2. Optimizing agent management cost-effectively
it can be said: UCC makes it far easier for the IT unit and administration to manage the communication network within a company. In this way, valuable IT resources can be used for other business purposes and companies can retain complete control over their network.
If you as a company use cloud solutions, the number of IT resources can also be reduced locally, which you would otherwise have to maintain. The flexibility of a cloud-based UCC solution also offers you the option of fast upscaling — if you wish to integrate new agents during peak periods. High investment in additional hardware is therefore unnecessary.
3. Problems with productivity
If your employees are unable to communicate efficiently with each other, how can they make innovative suggestions or resolve complex problems for your customers? For every successful business, communication has always been a critical component. UCC supports collaboration among your employees by combining conventional telephony, direct messages and customer information as well as collaboration tools.
UCC can also provide your employees and agents with better access to many more forms of communication such as instant messaging or video telephony. For a fast-moving company, this can be far more efficient than having to wait for an e-mail or fax response. With UCC, employees can switch seamlessly between video calls, telephone calls and instant messaging, make faster decisions and ensure that every employee is offered the support they need — precisely when it matters.
4. Improving customer experiences
For modern markets, customer satisfaction is probably the greatest challenge faced by companies. UCC can greatly improve the customer experience. This is because useful tools, e.g., intelligent routing, ensure that customers are transferred immediately and directly at the first attempt to the right experts to answer their questions. A survey commissioned by popular UCC solution companies shows that companies actually improved the customer experience through UCC solutions. Almost 80% of those surveyed said that the possibility to forward product enquiries from customers to support staff in real-time made their work far easier.
In conclusion, from a budget perspective, UCC solutions can greatly benefit your company. To be mentioned first of all is the cloud option. If you invest in web-based UCC, you can access all your required services in the cloud — and save initial investments in hardware and software at the same time. Moreover, you only pay for what you use.
Furthermore, UCC consolidates all internal and external communication into an integrated solution. This means: you save both costs as well as support for a wide range of individual tools and equipment. Even traveling costs can be reduced, since personal communication with regard to meetings with international customers and colleagues can be replaced by video conferences.
The way companies conduct their everyday business functions has evolved over time. In the past, direct communication between employees and clients occurred primarily through a standard desk phone. However, with the advancements in technology, companies can now maintain a competitive edge by being mobile and flexible with their business communications. So, why should your company move to a unified communications solution?
Unified Communications (UC) solutions offer the ability to seamlessly integrate your voice communications among desktop phones, computers, and mobile devices. Companies today need a voice solution that extends, integrates and connects a variety of scenarios. These include multiple offices, a mobile workforce, field employees, remote works, call center support and more. UC is more than just voice communications. It allows unified messaging, presence, analytics, SMS, chat, and CRM integrations allowing for productivity, connectivity, and collaboration whenever and wherever.
Unified Communications Allows You To Stay Connected
Here are a few simple examples:
Have employees who must stay home to take care of a sick child?
No problem – UC integrates your desk phone service with any internet connected computer via a Web Portal. This provides users with access to all of the features on the UC platform, including making and receiving calls. With the Web Portal, businesses can easily allow staff to work from home without a lot of headaches and hassles. The Web Portal is easy to use and customizable for each user.
Have employees who travel for work, but want them to be available to clients?
Easy – Answer calls, texts, and emails on-the-go with a convenient smartphone app that puts your business communications in your hand. UC allows those who travel or work remotely to be connected through both their computer or mobile device to all other co-workers. The UC platform means it’s easy for remote users to connect with co-workers (and vice-versa) because you can contact co-workers within or outside of your office with a simple extension dialing rather than having to track down a mobile number.
Clients who contact your company can be connected to the right person quickly and easily no matter where they’re located. Users can also maintain their professional identity when calling clients from a mobile phone by using the mobile app that transmits their business phone number instead of their mobile number. It may sound like a minor issue, but not all companies want customers to have their employees’ mobile number.
Maintaining professional identity also ensuring company calls stay with the company and not with the employee when they leave can become a big deal especially with so many companies embracing UC solutions.
Collaborating with co-workers in different locations?
Simple – UC offers collaboration tools that give users access to video conferencing, file sharing, screen sharing and chat through a Web Portal available on any internet-connected computer. Furthermore, the UC platform connects multiple locations under one seamless communication system. Connect multiple business locations under a single UC platform rather than having separate phone systems at each location. This allows for centralization and efficiency. Calls can easily be transferred between office locations.
If these scenarios currently create inefficient communications in your company, it is time to extend beyond just the desk phone and move to a Unified Communications solution that fits your company’s needs.
Remote working has been, until very recently, the exception rather than the rule. With the development of the current public health crisis, declared a pandemic by the World Heath Organisation, this has all been flipped on its head. Millions are suddenly coming to terms with a different way of working, using communications interfaces that can do more than just help them make audio calls with colleagues and customers.
Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) may be new to some, but is already familiar to lots of organisations. The good news is that adoption is fast and intuitive. And now that the UCC genie is out of the bottle, many more people are going to stick by its benefits – long after this terrible outbreak is in the past.
In a nutshell, UCC is the ability to communicate from any place, on any device, at any time – via voice and video calling, messaging, and virtual meeting rooms. Rather than being an adjunct to everyday business processes, it can be integrated with key applications and workflows.
Here are three examples of how UCC is used to support critical activities during these unprecedented times:
The contact centre that nobody commutes to
A physical contact centre with staff on premises cannot operate the same way during a pandemic. UC technology means they can all work from home with no disruption to the customer experience.
– Queuing of inbound and outbound calls and engagements happens in exactly the same way
– Agents can use their own smartphones/laptops, with callers seeing the company ID presented.
– Access to CRM and knowledge management systems is the same, including CTI prompts
– Routing of enquiries within the virtual contact centre is simple, and agents can visualise which colleagues are available and what expertise they have
– Where appropriate, agents can optimise their engagements with customers by sharing screens and launching video sessions
– Supervisors can track live metrics in the usual way, with access to granular reports
Many organisations have switched to this approach as part of activating business continuity plans. But lots were already doing this prior to COVID-19. Why? For one, staff churn is an ongoing concern across the contact centre industry, so offering flexible working arrangements is a good way to keep agents happy and motivated. It also means lower facilities costs because there is no need for office space. Finally, it’s good for the environment – no commuting means significantly lower carbon emissions.
The classroom where no students line up outside
Schools have closed and teachers are falling back on issuing assignments via VLE (virtual learning environment) platforms and other applications. But while these work well to keep track of student needs between physical classes, they typically only support email and messaging communications.
UCC makes it easier for teachers to teach on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis, allowing screen-sharing and supporting video. It makes them easier for students to access too, via presence. The teacher is always in control during virtual class-time, and can mute unruly participants and respond to students who note questions or virtually raise their hands. Screen-sharing enables teachers to show and tell, and for students to check work.
Again, long before COVID-19, these UCC capabilities were already in use in remote communities where lack of physical access to the classroom would have otherwise restricted students’ learning.
The virtual consulting room where patients are treated at a safe distance
The use of UCC in medical settings is far more sophisticated than simply launching a 2-way video chat. Integration with electronic patient records, prescriptions, on-call scheduling and even medical device data and alerts ensures that medical professionals are equipped to make virtual consultations as effective as physical ones. UCC also enables this via mobile devices, increasing the availability of medical staff to provide crucial interventions earlier and assign precious physical emergency resources when necessary.
For those of us who’ve been in the UCC industry since the start, we could never have imagined that the catalyst for such a surge of demand in the technology would be a global virus pandemic. The commercial benefits of UCC are well documented, but these seem to pale into insignificance compared to how vital it is proving to the fabric of society as well as the continuity of businesses.
Jamisi Communications is here to make life simpler and more convenient in an appealing ways. We use different Unigied Comminication tools to make Business operate effectively and efficiently in a competitive market. When you can do this in a business setting, in particular, there can be many benefits for efficiency, earnings, and employee engagement too. Here are several things you should know about the many ways unified communications technology helps streamline processes.
A Jamisi UC solution tools, offers several core benefits:
Enhanced customer service
Those sound good right? Let’s look at them in more detail to help you make your case.
Productivity — Communication is the lifeblood of your organization. With Jamisi UC tools allowing employees to see the status of their co-workers in real time, using presence, the technology helps cut down on wasted time. Also, the UC solution can help team members see on which channels the individual is available for collaboration in order to choose the best one for the task at hand. For instance, this might be IM or video conferencing, and the same UC solution can handle the best choice.
Additionally, UC is consistently accessible from office desks, other locations at your business where work gets done, and from mobile locations. Thus, your team members can seamlessly communicate and collaborate wherever they may be at a given time of day. No matter when your users need to meet, the platform is available.
Cost Savings — Combining multiple communication functionalities in a single integrated platform can see businesses decrease spending on premises-based telephony and messaging, and eliminate the need for chat and video services too. At the same time, a cloud-based Jamisi UC solution can put enterprise-level efficiency and professionalism within reach of the smallest business budget — and the technology can be easily scaled up and down to meet business need.
Let’s consider also the advantages for your IT department. Yes, they will be the ones responsible for deploying the platform, but with just one common environment to roll out they can save time and effort. At the same time, a cloud-based UC provider can take over responsibility for monitoring network usage and managing security.
Enhanced Customer Service — We mentioned already an advantage of presence — that your internal employees can quickly see who is available at a given moment. This can also help your communications with external users. After all, if someone wants to forward a call to another department, they can do so knowing that an individual is there and available, which reduces the customers’ wait time and saves them from having to leave messages. Or, more simply, with UC it becomes easier for an individual to reach out to a fellow team member on a separate channel — while still on the call with the customer — for the needed answer or information.
The efficiency of shared calendar access, instant messaging, and specific call routing tools are just the beginning of the benefits of UC. It’s also easy for employees to move throughout the organization (and off-site) without their customers detecting any difference. Extensions might be temporarily reassigned from a Seattle office to a Sedona one, with any desk phone (or even mobile phone) appearing to be the same direct line the customer usually calls.
Increased Revenue — Jamisi UC tools is a technology that speeds up response time, boosts employee productivity, and improves customer loyalty — all of which are key to increased revenues.
Further, with the ability to save messages, contact center recordings, and conference calls, your business gains the ability to improve processes and better protect itself from legal or compliance concerns. With the insights gained from UC dashboard reporting, your leaders can also identify trends, opportunities for training, and possible pitfalls to avoid.
Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is a combination of enterprise communication tools assembled into a single interface and integrated into a single management system. UC&C helps enterprises to overcome the inefficiencies and challenges that were previously siloed and fragmented—focusing on making your company more connected, efficient and productive.
A set of UC&C products includes a variety of communications and collaboration tools including:
Email and voicemail
Calendars and scheduling
Voice and telephony
Web, audio and video conferencing
UC&C offers any organization an array of benefits, providing employees with a consistent experience and interface across all devices, enhancing their ability to telecommute or work remotely. Other ways your company can benefit include:
Increased enterprise productivity and collaboration: Conventional communications tend to be bulky and inconsistent, leaving your employees spending more time on learning different tools, and less time getting work done. With UC&C tools your teams will be able to work together more efficiently and productively through a variety of channels.
Improved user experience: By reducing the need for separate training, user names and passwords, your employees will find UC&C tools easier to access and use.
Reduced IT and telephony costs: With all communications integrated into a single platform, you’ll have less potential failure points and risks of error, reducing the need for constant help from IT.
UC&C simply revolutionizes business communications by offering an all-encompassing, flexible suite of tools to make your business run more smoothly.