More than a third of all American workers now hail from the Millennial generation, according to recent Pew Research analysis based on U.S. Census data. This 55.5 million-strong segment of the working population is the largest group working today, surpassing even the 45 million Baby Boomers in the workforce. Research shows that these young workers are hungry and ready to put in long hours—but they also expect mobility.
Mobility is more than just a perk now. Some business owners or managers will be reluctant to allow their employees to work remote because they think they will be less productive. But many employees actually feel they get just as much, if not more, work done at home. Research confirms there is a productivity gain, too; Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom recently studied the effects of telecommuting and found a 13 percent gain in productivity, not to mention a $2,000 savings per employee.
The bottom line is employees want mobility, and companies benefit from it. Bringing unified communications systems to your company can make this process easy.
1. Never a dead zone
Smartphones unchained employees, putting a powerful computer in their pocket and giving them anywhere access to files, software and communications services. Most of the time. While smartphones play a central role in workplace mobility, they still suffer from signal reception issues and battery drain. This lack of complete reliability has contributed to the impression that mobile workers are unreliable and only available some of the time.
Unified communications addresses this problem by abstracting communications services. An employee may answer calls via cell phone most of the time, but when there is a dead zone or battery issue he can easy switch to taking calls or chat messages through his laptop or home computer on a Wi-Fi network.
2. Availability signaling
One of the challenges of mobile business is the lack of appropriate availability signaling. In the office there are office hours, and workers both escape distraction and communicate unavailability by not being at their desks. This is lost with mobility; work hours become fuzzy, interruptions come at any time, and coworkers cannot physically tell if someone is intensely focused or taking a Facebook break.
Unified communications solves this problem through “presence,” a quick indicator that shows if someone is available for communications or should not be disturbed. Presence can vary from a simple self-selected green, yellow, red indicator to a more complicated automated signal that lets others know a worker is in the middle of a presentation, for instance, withholding calls, chats and push notifications until the presentation is complete.
3. Find Me, Follow Me
With the breakdown in office hours, whether from mobility, globalization or overwork, business truly never stops. But it does pause, especially for the mobile worker not constrained by geography or a strict office schedule; unusual break times are common for those not stuck in the office. This can pose a problem when interacting with others who still follow strict office hours, especially in terms of availability expectations and teamwork.
Unified communications not only offers up presence, as mentioned above, it also assists the mobile worker by following them on break or passing the buck to a colleague when that urgent call comes in. Find-me/follow-me functionality enables an incoming call to bounce from phone to phone until it reaches its intended target. It also can automatically route calls to another employee when the mobile worker is unavailable.
The Internet and cell phones have made employee mobility a viable option, especially over the past decade. Now that the individuals who grew up around this technology are such a big part of the workforce, mobility is expected. Bringing a unified communications system to your company can help both your and employees and your business’ productivity.