Business development 9 January 2018

Four business communications challenges in 2018 – The year of flexible working

flexible working
Many employers now allow staff to work remotely when they need to

Flexible working means seamless communication within companies will become more important than ever in 2018. Here, the founder at communications platform VIA, Alex Tebbs, tells Business Advice readers how to overcome key communications challenges this year.

Over the last few years, businesses have increasingly been adapting to new, innovative ways of working in the ever-changing technological landscape.

This year will be no exception, with more businesses than ever in 2018 predicted to be switching and investing in communications systems that support flexible working environments.

Business hours and procedures vary a great deal from company to company, and numerous jobs today operate options of flexibility, allowing staff to work from home or remotely when they need to.

Flexible working has the potential to cause challenges with communication in teams, with staff potentially being absent from the office at sporadic or unexpected times.

Despite this, there are practical steps businesses can take towards addressing these challenges of managing business communications in a flexible working environment.

With a couple of simple and practical tips highlighted below, it’s possible to ensure seamless communications throughout the year.

Challenge: People wanting time off but not enough people to cover

Within a large team, one of the biggest challenges involves ensuring that the office is manned adequately at times when everyone wants to be out of the office, such as on Fridays, or over school holidays.

It’s vital that there’s enough staff to cover all hours, in particular with international businesses that may have different opening times.

The solution here is to make sure that there’s a set number of employees on call at these busy points throughout the year. This ensures that if there’s an emergency at any point, someone will be there ready to deal with it, instantly available through remote working.

Challenge: Staff not working efficiently from home

One concern we often hear about is the productivity of the team when completing their tasks remotely, especially at times when few people are working, so there’s less ability to monitor the workload being completed.

This may be an issue for those who do not usually work remotely and yet have been given time off under special circumstances.

Managers that are worried that employees will not be working effectively can monitor how active people are with their computers with Unified Communications (UC), to ensure that a sufficient amount of work is being completed.

Challenge: Informing customers what is happening when staff are off

Business hours inevitably change, especially with the rise in flexible working hours and international business ensuring global time zones must be considered.

The most effective way to keep customers informed is to put an auto-attendant in place when you’re not in the office. Through this, you can inform customers of office opening times, as well as additional staffing information.

Challenge: Contacting colleagues when they’re off

Using UC means that you can instantly see the availability of everyone in the organisation. For example, in Skype for Business, there is a traffic light system that shows when people are busy, inactive or available.

By keeping clear communications within the team, and through leveraging modern devices and tools available such as a UC system, every small business can ensure there is seamless communication throughout 2018, the year of flexible working environments.

Alex Tebbs is the founder at specialist business communication firm, VIA.

Read more: How to effectively communicate your business messages

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