Collaboration is the glue that holds your business together

A woman in a smart green top sitting in a meeting room in an office in front of her laptop, which is on a table, laughing while on a video call
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the things that has remained constant through all the changes to the workplace in recent years is the need for collaboration. Impromptu meetings with a mentor can lead to career breakthroughs and dependable check-ins can keep teams on track.

To ensure that these valuable workplace experiences can be maintained in our more remote and digital market, businesses have adopted productivity software that enables them to collaborate on documents remotely and embraced video conferencing to a greater degree.

The digital transformation moves made by leaders so far show they understand employees need to be supported on this journey and they will need to plan for greater shifts in the future to retain staff.

Slack’s State of Work in 2023 report found that in-person collaboration was valued among employees for brainstorming sessions or making key team decisions. It also highlighted that when it comes to digital collaboration, unified platforms allow employees to work more productively and intuitively.

While some firms like Google have been pushing their workers to return to the office for several days per week, others such as GitHub have switched to a fully remote working model. It may be a blend of the two approaches that wins the day, however, with research indicating that organizations are increasingly opting for a hybrid workplace. A recent Gartner report found that internationally, 39% of knowledge workers would be working hybrid – spending some time in the office and the rest of it in another location – by the end of 2023 compared to 37% in 2022.

This doesn’t have to be antithetical to effective collaboration. Research from GitHub has shown that developers welcome collaboration over digital channels, documents, and team meetings, with 50% identifying collaborative work with colleagues as leading to better test coverage and 49% saying it helped them write code faster.

Empowering collaboration through the cloud

Many offices rely on phone calls for collaboration with their colleagues, as well as with partners and customers. One could assume this would be something that instant messaging and productivity software struggle to replace. However, managed service providers such as BT can provide cloud telephony solutions that combine the intuitive and centralized environment with existing phone networks.

Microsoft Teams Voice is one such cloud solution to replace traditional telephony and comes with the benefits of guaranteed high-quality voice calls, global calling plans to keep teams connected even when spread around the world, as well as the choice to build it into your existing phone system.

In the UK, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is being completely retired by 2025  and has already been turned off in some parts of the country. This is another reason for businesses to adopt cloud telephony as soon as possible, to ensure the most stable experience for internal collaboration and interactions with customers over the phone.

Businesses can also implement Microsoft Teams Phone through BT, which allows for Private Branch Exchange (PBX) calls via Microsoft Azure. This circumvents the PSTN entirely, which means customers don’t have to pay long-distance call charges when using the service to contact colleagues or customers overseas.

This could be used to improve telephone communication between teams in offices that practice asynchronous collaboration, in which teams operate at different hours of the day depending on their time zone.

Through BT, businesses can take advantage of these benefits with access to voice calling in 40 countries. BT also provides customer assistance with setting up the service, whether through their existing phone system and handsets or via a brand-new migration. Its managed service teams help to run the solution 24/7 and can source devices for setup.

Why telephony is still important in a world of instant messaging

Businesses with a hybrid approach will still have departments containing a mix of people in the office and working remotely and the sight of an office that hosts all employees five days per week has become a rarity.

Solutions such as Microsoft Teams already allow workers to maintain contact in real-time, as well as to share ideas with a wider team or even with their entire organization. It’s vital that workers still have these consistent spaces for conversation and collaboration, which emulate the experience of a shared office while embracing all the benefits of digital collaboration such as cloud documents and centralized file sharing.

Teams can also serve as the antidote to the siloed environment of email. Unlike being carbon copied into endless email chains to maintain oversight of one’s departmental responsibilities, the productivity app allows for messages to be shared widely in relevant channels or sent to individual colleagues if more appropriate.

The pattern of remote and hybrid work that became widespread in 2020 was the accelerated version of a change that had been in the works since the widespread adoption of the internet. Satellite offices and highly mobile workforces were made possible by the widespread availability of 3G in the 2000s and 4G in the 2010s. More powerful business laptops for remote work have empowered a generation of workers to do their jobs on the go.

Telephony has remained unchanged amidst these changes, but with pressures such as the shutdown of PSTN and the undeniable benefits of cloud calling, businesses should consider how they can embrace telephony for collaboration.

Some businesses may have had the same handsets for years and even newer businesses may rely on telephony as a core channel for customers or suppliers. Phone calls may also be one of the main ways in which an employee interacts with their team.

It’s clear that through a combination of messaging apps such as Microsoft Teams and support for existing communications channels such as telephone systems, businesses can support proper collaboration throughout their workforce.

Embracing this through knowledgeable partners such as BT can help the process to come together more effectively, allowing team members across different offices or even regions to work together in the most natural way possible.


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