5 Ways Unified Communications can Help Virtual Teams Thrive
Team working is crucial to the success of modern business. In many companies, more than 80% of workers are working in some sort of virtual team as part of their job role. Virtual teams are separated by geographical distance, with team members on the road, ‘hot desking’, working from home or permanently based in different time zones. Today virtual teams are formed on the basis of skills and knowledge rather than location and company hierarchy, but they can only be successful if their team members are fully engaged and motivated to achieve common goals. Unified Communications (UC) enables virtual teams to collaborate through an accessible, user-friendly software platform, offering a range of services that means virtual teams are efficient and effective no matter where individual team members are working.
Unified Communications Connects Virtual Teams Anytime, Anywhere
UC services provide virtual team workers with access to all aspects of modern communications in one user-friendly platform. The software is downloadable through a web browser or a mobile app, and can be used on any digital device. This means that an individual user’s emails, instant messaging, voice and video calls are accessible from one screen, whether it is a Smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.This single interface means that users no longer have to stay at they desks to work, and can juggle different communications at once. All of their texts, emails, voice mail and instant messages all in one place. This feature alone cuts out a lot of miscommunication and duplication of information at once, as team workers can be sure that colleagues will receive important information no matter what form it takes.
UC Enables Workers to Choose the Best Way to Communicate
In the same way, UC services give virtual team workers choices about what device they use to work, and the best way to communicate with other team members. UC services use Unify OpenScape technology, which is fully compatible with all versions of digital operating systems. So members of virtual teams can bring a personal device to work, such as a Smartphone or tablet, and use it in the same way as they would a laptop or desktop computer.
This means that workers can be flexible on the move, as they can switch between devices depending on whether they are at a desk or in a busy airport waiting for a flight. In addition, Unify UC services offer secure Cloud storage, allowing workers to save information and access important documents on the go, without worrying about data security. With this enhanced flexibility, it is easier for all team members to remain ‘in the loop’ with the latest developments and decisions, building greater trust between virtual team members who might otherwise feel isolated or left out of the decision-making process.
UC Enables Team Members to Connect in New Ways
One of the most significant limitations on the success of virtual teams is the difficulty of building rapport between individuals who infrequently or never meet in person. UC services can help to bridge this gap, by providing easy access to video technology and affordable telephony services. While in the past many team leaders may have briefed staff by email and held teleconferences to discuss ideas, today UC technology offers new and better communication solutions to virtual teams. Video conferencing gives all team members the ability to see the body language of those with whom they are speaking, and to pick up on non-verbal clues such as tone of voice to understand meaning.
Video conversations also demand greater attention from their participants and discourage the kind of multi-tasking that prevents full engagement with the task in hand. In addition, video calls allow for the sort of informal pre- and post-meeting chats that help to build bonds between co-workers and establish a common purpose for work, aligning personal goals with professional ones. All of these ‘soft’ advantages help to keep virtual team members happy, productive and motivated to achieve.
With UC, Virtual Teams can Communicate in Real Time
Another significant advantage of UC services is the integration of Web RTC technology, which enables the transmission of information and documents in real time in the same way that texts are sent and received on mobile phones. This instant communication reduces the physical isolation of individual team members, allowing them to contact each other immediately to share ideas and collaborate on new projects.
One of UC’s most important Web RTC services is the ability to see when virtual team members are available to share ideas. This is known as ‘presence’ technology and it allows efficient team working by indicating who is available at any given moment. Presence technology might also indicate whether a colleague is in a meeting or travelling, enabling colleagues to choose the best way to communicate with that person. In some cases instant messaging can be used to have a brief, informal discussion with a colleague working at their desk, while email can be chosen if a colleague is in a meeting and will only be available later. Video conferencing can be used when a ‘face to face’ conversation is required to discuss a sensitive or complex idea.
UC Makes Online Collaboration Simple and Effective
UC has a single workflow feature, which allows virtual team members to collaborate on a single project from different locations. The workflow functions in the same way as a social media time line, showing the contributions of each team member arranged in chronological order. The workflow shows all the latest information and documents in real time, indicating who has contributed to each part of the project and allowing instant collaboration when creating and editing shared documents. For those who are absent from the conversation for any period of time (or for new workers), the workflow can show how ideas have evolved and developed over time.
This workflow feature makes the virtual team truly flexible, allowing colleagues to come and go from the conversation as time zones or other work activities dictate. Because everyone can see progress in real time, there is a shared accountability for a project’s progression and results. All of these features combined ensure efficiency – no more time wasted on finding the latest version of a document, and no important ideas or corrections lost in wider conversations between the group.
To find out more about how Unified Communications can help your virtual teams thrive, contact UC&C today.
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