In Australia, there’s an expectation that once double dose coronavirus vaccination rates reach 80% of the adult population, we will see restrictions easing. That means reduced lockdowns and our interstate and international borders opening up later in 2021, but are we ready for a return to the office?

It’s already been well-established that hybrid working is here to stay, but what does the future of work look like, and do we have the right communications platform in place to support it? Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has published its own insights on this, stating that “yesterday’s models can’t handle today’s challenges. Businesses won’t survive without a bold new approach for tomorrow.”

Yesterday’s models include traditional telephony platforms, which have been designed to support centralised office environments with desk-bound employees. These phone systems are typically designed to manage a binary “in the office/out of the office” scenario. For most workers, the solution to this is to forward the desk phone to their mobile. However, that takes the call outside the corporate PABX, limiting the ability for the organisation to have an impact on the effectiveness or experience of that business interaction.

Also, we are no longer dealing with a simple binary situation. BCG identifies seven key zones inside and outside of the office where we will work in the future. At RingCentral we take one step further; where most businesses that adopt hybrid working are effectively adopting a “work from anywhere” model.

During lockdown, for those organisations without a single, unified communications platform the pain points relating to digital transformation were magnified and are unlikely to be solved in a work from anywhere environment. Those pain points include the organisation’s lack of ability to align on projects and coordinate with other internal and external stakeholders; poor connections and collaboration between teams; and limited access to the skills required to execute on new initiatives. To manage this new business world and your people in it, BCG advises taking a platform-based approach to IT:

“One of the best ways to ensure that these new working models function at their full potential and address pain points is to implement a platform-based IT organization. In a nutshell, a platform-based IT organization gathers people with a common interest in a specific functional or technical domain so they can work directly with one another on a dedicated platform for a specific project. A platform-based IT organization is client-centric and fully aligned on business processes and flows.”

That’s all well and good, but it’s only achievable if you also take a platform-based approach to communications. A stand-alone, office-bound telephony solution isn’t going to work. How do you connect teams of people together who might be in different cities – or some who have made the sea change or tree change during the pandemic? How do you transfer calls to a colleague, escalate an issue to your manager, find someone internally with the appropriate expertise to answer the enquiry, or ensure that a call can be picked up by an available member of your team?

How do you embed a communications platform and make it a natural extension of the different modes of connection and digital platforms your teams are using on a daily basis – such as the way your sales and marketing teams leverage CRM systems like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, or how your software developers rely on platforms like JIRA and GitHub to collaborate on projects.

How do you bring together cross-functional teams in a virtual environment, and allow them to switch effortlessly across different modes of communication, both formal and ad-hoc, and replicate the old-world experience that everyone had coming together in the single office location?

Just as importantly, how do you support and implement the ongoing changes and updates that need to be made to a traditional, on-premise hardware like a PABX when you now have an IT team that is also operating in a hybrid working model?

For Community First Credit Union, operating on a traditional telephony system that required desk phones to be plugged into the corporate network, moving to RingCentral UCaaS and CCaaS enabled staff to work from different locations and support its flexible work policies – at the same time accentuating the credit union’s strong customer intimacy focus.

For Mortgage Choice, taking a platform-based approach was a game-changer. It’s hosted virtualised IP PABX didn’t allow for any integration with the applications being used internally and wasn’t flexible to effectively adapt to a work from anywhere operating model. The new RingCentral UCaaS platform not only provides the flexibility needed, but it also integrates natively with Mortgage Choice’s applications – including Google Workspace, Zendesk for ticketing and HubSpot and Microsoft Dynamics for CRM. Further to this, the single platform can also be extended to offer the same functionality and integration to Mortgage Choice’s franchisees.

However, with the return to the office imminent, is it too late to make the upgrade? Not at all! Both Community First Credit Union and Mortgage Choice successfully replaced their legacy PABX environments and rolled out a RingCentral solution with most of their team working from home. And, with RingCentral operating as a subscription-based model, there is no big one-off project cost in hardware and on-site deployments. The best place to start in making the switch to a cloud-based communications solution, is to check out our plans and pricing to see what works best for your organisation.

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