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Office-based businesses are returning to work following the coronavirus lockdown. And many are looking to integrate aspects of home working into the office environment. This article provides a few examples of IT services that can ease this transition. Additionally, these examples illustrate how you can create a more flexible and efficient workplace going forward.
As we eagerly approach the end of coronavirus restrictions, most businesses have now started to bring employees back to the office. However, the move to remote working over the past year has opened Pandora’s box. That is, many employees are now looking to retain aspects of flexible and remote working.
The good news for businesses is that home and office environments do not need to be mutually exclusive. By embracing collaborative software—some of which you might already have dabbled in—you can ease this transition to a mixed working environment. You can ensure that your business is even more flexible and efficient.
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Let IT Services Help You with File Synchronization
There’s nothing worse than having to dig through a year’s worth of emails to find the one version of a document you need. Local area networks ensure that everyone in the office has access to a pool of files. However, this isn’t always up-to-date. Different versions of various documents can end up floating around.
On top of this, only one person at any give time can edit local documents. And if you’re away from the office, you need to log in to the local network using a remote access solution. This is a slightly clunky process that adds another layer of abstraction to finding, editing, and saving documents and files.
Enter file synchronization, thanks to IT services. Cloud-based services such as Google Drive and Microsoft 365 allow employees to store files online. This means that anyone with the credentials can access them through a simple app or browser interface. Crucially, however, multiple people can also access documents at the same time. Moreover, everyone can see what other people are doing.
As all changes are synchronized instantly, there is only ever one version of a given document. What’s more, this one document merges all of the changes together. This is invaluable when people are working remotely. It means that people don’t end up working on separate copies of the same document. It also makes it easier to organize your documents. This makes it easy to see what the changes are, who made them, and when.
IT Services Can Help You with Messaging Apps
One of the biggest problems with remote working in general is maintaining good communication. Many businesses have embraced Zoom meetings and other IT services as solutions. Nonetheless, the problem persists if only a part of your workforce is working remotely. Employees in the workplace need a way to communicate seamlessly with remote workers, with no information being withheld by virtue of only being shared at work.
If you aren’t using one already, a business messaging platform is a helpful tool both internally and externally. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack provide extensive messaging and file sharing functionalities. Such apps can even replace emails or phone calls for simple messaging and collaboration among employees.
Built on the foundations of Internet Relay Chat, the classic form of online chat rooms, Slack and Teams provide your business with a unique “server” to which you can invite employees. Within this, you can create different rooms or groups to house different conversations. For example, you can set up a room for HR or a room for a specific project. This compartmentalizes discussions while making them available for others to view should they need to.
Unlike emails, which can stretch into long and complicated chains and become hard to keep track of, conversations on messaging apps are easily categorized. This makes it easier to keep track of them. Employees only receive alerts about conversations that are relevant to them. However, managers and others can make announcements in specific channels to ensure everyone receives them. By ensuring your whole company keeps one of these apps open as a matter of course, you can streamline your communications. In short, you can keep everyone in the loop at all times.
Are You Using VoIP Yet?
Zoom is fine for the purposes of meetings but isn’t always appropriate in other situations. If you usually take a lot of phone calls in the office, you may instead want to explore IT services such as internet telephony. This usually takes the form of Voice over Internet Protocol, more commonly known as VoIP. VoIP can also be a good solution if you don’t have clients who use Zoom or other conferencing options, or you simply don’t want to commit to Zoom.
VoIP allows you to emulate a traditional phone network (usually represented by a physical PBX) in workers’ home environments. Instead of a physical telephone system, your staff will be able to manage and direct calls from the cloud. This can take the form of a software-based solution which uses a simple headset. Or you can choose an internet-connected handset that sits on your home desk. You won’t need any other equipment. What’s more, employees can take and make calls through the same system despite being miles apart.
A well-implemented VoIP solution gives the impression that you are operating as normal from the office, in a coordinated and organized manner. With a variety of tools to manage your VoIP solution, you can make this a reality. In other words, you can ensure that staff members take calls, then switch or divert them with as few impediments as possible. This will give every caller or recipient the smoothest experience possible.
Pandemic-Driven Change Calls for IT Services
The working environment of 2021 is likely to differ substantially from that of years past, with the pandemic having driven rapid change. The businesses who thrive in their return to work will be the ones who adapt fastest to this new era. These will be the companies that adopt the most forward-thinking policies and technologies, many of which have become available only in the past year. By leaning on IT services, you’ll ensure a smooth return. Moreover, you will set your business up to grow and improve for years to come.
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About the Contributor
Sota is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of professional IT managed services, cloud computing, cyber resilience, connectivity, and unified communications. Having worked with countless businesses over the years, they are experts in their field. They stand ready to advise and offer tailored solutions for each and every company.
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