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Branch Offices and Remote Workers
Small and Mid-sized Businesses (SMEs) in the United States are increasingly likely to manage at least one remote business location as part of their operations. According to Reed Electronics Group, over 60% of the workforce in the United States operates from a remote location or branch office. Adding to that, recent employment trends indicate that a rising number of employees in the corporate sector work remotely from their home offices. Forrester Research’s US Telecommuting Forecast notes that 34 million Americans currently work from home. This number is expected to reach 63 million – or 43 percent of the U.S. workforce – by 2016.
Consequences of Corporate Disunity
Although many SMEs have extended their data network to their branch offices and remote workers, voice services at these locations often remain basic. Unlike employees at the main office, remote staff and employees that work from home spend a significant amount of time searching through phone numbers, decrypting handwritten notes, and trying to retrieve lost voice mail messages between from both customers and employees. This can have a considerable effect on the organization’s productivity and its ability to deliver effective customer service. What’s more, it can create a feeling of disconnect for employees – a feeling which shouldn’t be overlooked according to a 2011 study and survey by Caroline Bartel, associate professor of management at the McCombs School of Business.
Bartel surveyed Full-time virtual employees (both recent hires and veterans) at two different technology companies. Her findings showed that many remote workers reported feeling a significant disconnect between themselves and the rest of their organizations. One open-ended question asked respondents to make statements about how physical isolation affects their status at the company — the researchers categorized 84 percent of the responses to this question as negative, and just 16 percent as positive. “They were feeling removed from the organization in such a way that they felt as though their status in the organization had dropped considerably,” explained the professor. “That drop in status made them feel as though they were not respected members.”
Using a UC Solution to Create a ‘Head Office Feel’
Until recently, the cost of extending modern full-service communications features to remote locations was perhaps too expensive for most SMEs to consider. Today, the distributed user’s data and telephony are at the forefront of convergence of internet-based business communications. This creates many affordable options for smaller businesses who want to create a sense of unity across their workforce.
A UC Solution specifically designed for small businesses and branch locations, like Dialexia’s own IP-PBX platform, combines both voice and data on a single LAN/WAN infrastructure to deliver the telephony and productivity features that local and remote employees require, at a cost that is often lower than a traditional PBX.
Supporting data, voice, video, security, and remote connectivity within a single integrated system of gateways and IP Phones, professional IP-PBX platforms offer a cost effective platform for unified communications, extending a range of consistent, manageable network services to remote workers and branch-location employees.
For more information on Dialexia’s award-winning Dial-Office IP-PBX platform for small and mid-sized businesses, or to request a trial version for your organization, click here. To further discuss your business needs with a Dialexia consultant, please contact us.