We are now well into 2022, and companies are adjusting to the new working balance and all the challenges that are coming with it. In a recent study from Deloitte, 79% of business leaders surveyed suggested that they did not want to return to old pre-pandemic working patterns, but take away and implement key learnings gained from hybrid/remote working during the pandemic (Deloitte). So, hybrid working set-ups are a much-discussed topic right now.
There are many things to consider with a changing workforce dynamic, from getting the best return on investment and office space, to making sure employees can collaborate effectively and still maintain important business processes.
Communication is essential to any business, but especially with the current hybrid working shift, businesses need to take a close look at the services and support available to ensure seamless communication – whether in the office or in remote working set-ups. Telephony plays a key part in upholding a company’s communication, yet the requirements around this have changed recently.
During the change to remote or hybrid working resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations hastily adopted remote working solutions like Teams, Zoom and Webex. According to a study from TrustRadius, the first two months of the Covid-19 pandemic saw the web and video conferencing market increase by 500% (TrustRadius 2021). Often these solutions were not implemented with the same level of due diligence and security integration mindset as others in a company's existing application stack, due to the sheer speed at which the solutions needed to be integrated. This usually meant that employees felt they had “yet another” application to open, and the solution was not used to its full potential. This mindset extended to the adoption and use of Telephony solutions. Many organisations with legacy phone systems had to send employees home with handsets, manually updating the phone systems’ permitted IP (Intellectual Property) ranges to enable employee phones to operate over the VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Ultimately, as we move forward, integration with business processes and return on investment is key to leveraging these solutions and platforms as well as supporting new ways of working. This also has a direct impact on the retention and attraction of talent in organisations, as companies are often expected to use more modern business process’ and infrastructure practices to enable good end user experiences, as well as work in a more sustainable way.
Microsoft Teams has arguably been one of the most successful platforms during the pandemic, and is a strong tool for individual, group and company communication and collaboration.
Microsoft’s Phone System, the cloud PBX product, is enabled with a licensing uplift in your Microsoft 365 tenant (audio calls and the Phone System are only available with an E5 license). It’s incredibly easy to get started with and means that your Microsoft Teams app on your desktop/mobile becomes your phone handset/headset for incoming voice calls.
For cost-effectiveness and maximum flexibility on your Telephony requirements, it’s always good to look for a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) provider. This is similar to purchasing the PSTN/ISDN lines of old, except that it allows you to connect to your new Microsoft Phone System without needing a physical line installed into your business. With a little configuration, this handles the majority of simple telephony requirements for small businesses.
But in the world of Telephony, where you may have multiple offices in multiple countries and may even need features like Call Recording, Contact Centre / Call Centre specific functionality, there are many things to consider when designing a cost efficient and flexible Telephony infrastructure that supports the hybrid working challenges of today.
While Microsoft Teams does not natively include a Contact Centre solution, many well-known vendors out there can facilitate this requirement. You can often purchase your phone numbers, dialling plans and additional requirements like Contact Centre and Call recording for a simple monthly fee, allowing you to know exactly what your costs are going to be with little to no CapEx expenditure.
Another noteworthy innovation in this field is Operator Connect, a new service provided by Microsoft and some Telephony Vendors. This service allows you to quickly and easily provision new Telephony requirements (numbers, locations, services) with a few clicks of a button from within your Microsoft 365 tenant, after you’ve signed an agreement with a provider and it has been set up. This gives maximum flexibility and simplicity for organisations.
The future of working appears to be hybrid. A recent survey for the Chartered Institute of Management (CMI) revealed that 80% of firms have adopted a hybrid working models since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak – and suggests this model is here to stay (BBC). Ensuring your business has the Telephony tools and set-up to serve this working model is going to be essential in driving business success in 2022.
If you’re interested to find out more, Insight is hosting a webinar with one of our Telephony partners where we’re going to go through everything you need to consider when it comes to integrating Telephony and Enterprise Voice requirements into your Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Register now for Maximise Your Microsoft Teams Investment with Enterprise Grade Telephony Solutions.