Many organizations fuss around with different apps and new gizmos hoping to find the magic bullet solution to increasing their workplace productivity. But a growing number of businesses are learning that the real key to increasing workplace productivity is not a new tool but a new system. A new phone system, that is.
We’re referring, of course, to a Unified Communications (UC) phone system. The promise of UC is that the work people do will be revolutionized by improving the technology they use to communicate. UC merges the tools people use to collect, store, and communicate information into a single platform. Everything from voice and video calling, visual voicemail, chat, and email to collaborative features like presence, status, and conferencing, not to mention smart integrations with business tools like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, and much more.
Workplace productivity and efficiency gains are considered hard bottom line benefits of adopting a UC phone system. This is driving the telecommunications market and shaping the present state of phone system buying. When businesses decide to acquire a new phone system, 82% adopt UC. At least half of those who take the plunge into UC cite perceived workplace productivity gains as a motivation. And, not surprisingly, 93% of them report seeing those benefits realized after deploying a new UC phone system.
All of the statistics found in this article can be found in the Eastern Management Group’s report outlining their research into the effect of UC on workplace productivity.
So how does UC boost workplace productivity?
It’s easy to grasp at a high level that getting business tools to work together in a unified system automates routine tasks, reducing the time it takes to perform one’s work. But let’s take a look at how individual features of UC boost productivity.
There are four categories of factors that increase workplace productivity. These include:
- Efficiency — the degree to which resources (e.g. time, capital, etc.) are conserved while performing a task to completion.
- Speed — the ability to complete tasks and resolve issues quickly.
- Multi-Tasking — the ability to perform more than one task simultaneously.
- Development of Interpersonal Relationships — the degree to which relationships between teammates are fostered, encouraging collaboration and creativity.
How UC Features Contribute to Improved Workplace Productivity
All of the features that a modern UC phone system boasts contribute to all four factors of workplace productivity in unique ways. Here’s how:
By bringing email, instant messaging/chat, and voicemail onto a single platform, unified messaging enables multi-tasking, which directly increases speed and collaboration. Additionally, it’s estimated that unified messaging saves 25-50% on the cost of these services compared to maintaining multiple platforms.
This feature, in particular, drives faster communication between teammates, facilitating team building even across different locations. This creates an environment where collaboration and creativity can occur more often and less formally.
UC phone systems take the primary function of a phone system— calling—and expands it into a spectrum of collaboration opportunities. 62% of business IT managers found that these collaboration tools are essential to their business. Not only do they facilitate remote employment, they reduce the time it takes for teams to make decisions and complete projects. This makes businesses more responsive to opportunities and proactive in combating threats.
This feature boosts team building by facilitating meetings remotely. This allows meetings to be held more regularly with more participants while reducing costs by eliminating the need to pay for a separate conferencing service. Additionally, calls can quickly be set up, and additional people can easily be added with dynamic “click and drag” functionality.
Video Calls and Desktop Sharing
These facilitate robust group collaboration by reproducing the effects of an in-person meeting while being easier to schedule and reducing travel costs by around 25%.
With advanced interactive voice response (IVR) technology, callers can be in contact with the right person faster and more efficiently than relying on a receptionist or auto-attendant. This increases connection time by as much as 25%, and, as a bonus, having a polished IVR greeting callers enhances the perceived size and image of a business.
Presence Information and Calendaring
Lacking vital presence and calendaring functionality has historically been a huge bottleneck in workplace productivity. Workarounds were invented over time, such as open office floor plans and regular agenda meetings, but these have noticeable drawbacks. UC presence/status monitoring answers the challenge of knowing who’s available, both immediately and for planning a meeting. In fact, this is one of the most often cited workplace productivity improvements, making the process of getting a team together much faster and considerably more efficient. This means more people can provide input and be involved, and decisions can be arrived at more quickly. Not to mention that UC phone systems can intelligently use presence information to make smart call queue rules around parameters like who’s available, which job role needs to take the call, etc.
One of the biggest trends in workplace productivity is opening up employment geographically to recruit and retain the best talent. This trend towards freer workplace arrangements also capitalizes on research that shows that allowing employees to work where they’re comfortable makes them more productive. UC answers the challenges of this trend with robust mobility features that keep teams connected and workplace productivity high.
In addition to all the features listed above, UC phone systems typically offer powerful mobile apps that function as both a mobile dashboard and a mobile softphone, allowing users to utilize the full power of their phone system, including their personal extension, regardless of where they are. This allows users to be more available to their colleagues, partners, and customers. And the ability to capture and make use of otherwise wasted hours accounts for a productivity improvement of up to 10%.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Another advantage of these mobility features is an efficiency boost in the form of the ease with which BYOD policies can be implemented. With BYOD, businesses can save thousands by not having to supply a needlessly redundant second “work” device for mobile workers, while these users are not burdened by carrying a second, dedicated device just for work. (And don’t worry, by utilizing the user’s work extension for the softphone, business and personal calls and messages are not combined or confused.)
Unified Communications = Overall Productivity Boost
UC increases workplace productivity by facilitating better and easier communication among team members. Its features improve the efficiency and speed with which tasks are accomplished, while providing the opportunity for productive multi-tasking and the development of interpersonal relationships. Users enjoy the effortless speed with which tasks can be accomplished with UC. The appropriate tool is ready to use at the right time from a single platform, and presence and multi-party ad-hoc communication features allow the free exchange of information and ideas while driving progress toward project goals.
The numbers speak for themselves. Among Eastern Management Group survey participants, businesses adopting UC on average experienced a 52% improvement in workplace productivity and a 45% increase in business efficiency which translated into a 25% increase in operating profit. All this while adopting a phone system that can reduce communications costs by 50% compared to legacy phone systems.
A boost to workplace productivity can improve any business, but the powerful functionality of UC can actually do a lot more to make your business better. Download our free guide How UC Improves Businesses to discover why the future of communications is unified.