(Originally published on Coxblue.com)
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It's a major understatement to say that the future is in technology. This has been true since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. However, we must remember that the businesses that have figured out how to use new technology to find efficiencies in what they do are the ones that succeed.
The difference between 200 years ago and today is that we're seeing more of a connectivity revolution than an industrial one. Our technological advances have enabled a new kind of connectivity that is affordable and available to the masses.
It's how these technologies have combined to enhance collaboration and remove obstacles that drives true transformation.
Collaboration among teams is continually evolving, but breakthroughs in bandwidth, networking, and device technologies have broadened the horizon for what's possible in organizational structure.
Today, we are witnessing the rise of a new kind of workplace. This modern workplace leverages connectivity in new and surprising ways by breaking down barriers of distance, department, and hierarchy.
And when it comes to connectivity advancements, it's not just employees who benefit. These technologies make it easier for consumers to become aware of new options in the marketplace and do research to confirm, and assure themselves that they're making the best choice. Review sites, social networking, and cameras in our pockets mean that it's easy to spread the word about a good experience (or a bad one).
In order to adapt to and take advantage of these new possibilities, this trend pushes companies to become more "virtual" than ever before. Let's take a look at how that works and how you can use it for your advantage.
Remote Business On the Rise
Telecommuting of all kinds is on the rise—a 103% increase from 2005–2016 alone according to Global Analytics Workplace
—and it comes with a renewed focus on the technologies that enable remote working opportunities to operate seamlessly.
There are a number of important benefits for businesses that open up their hiring practices and look into hiring distributed teams. One of the biggest is that you can greatly expand your hiring pool. If you think about it, the largest restriction on who you can hire comes down to geography and availability. By asking that employees be located within commuting distance of your company, and available during business hours, you're actually excluding a lot of people from consideration who could potentially handle the job with aplomb.
There are a lot of reasons that someone who is otherwise qualified might not be able to commit to coming into your office 40 hours a week: kids, a sick or aging relative, a medical condition or disability, among others. In an article about Intuit's expanding distributed team practices
, Terilyn Monroe, Director of Global Employee and Community Engagement, puts it this way:
"In today's global economy and with Intuit's expanding global footprint, we know great talent is everywhere."
Beyond hiring, shifting to a more distributed team allows a business to spend less on office space and supplies while improving retention and productivity
. This makes a lot of sense—because employees have more control over where and how they work, they find it easier to achieve a work-life balance that makes sense for them.
Supporting a distributed team means embracing all of the technologies that make this possible. The backbone – reliable and scalable phone and broadband services. You'll want to ensure that not only are your organization's current needs being met but that your future needs can also be achieved quickly, seamlessly and without disruption.
Managed Services Provide a Reliable Option
The same advances that support more remote workers than ever before—the cloud, increased broadband speeds, multiple communication platforms—are also enabling a new way of filling discrete business IT needs: managed service providers (MSPs).
While an outside vendor might have certain deliverables that fit into your workflow, an MSP, or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides managed services, provides ongoing support for many of your day-to-day IT operations. As CIO puts it
: "While there are several ways to define managed services, the most important consideration is that, rather than specifying and managing a set of activities, the company specifies a set of outcomes and the service provider manages the environment and defines "how" to achieve those outcomes. Those outcomes are aligned to prescribed service levels at predictable costs."
The upshot of this is that you can fulfill a business need with a specialized team. Most small businesses have a correspondingly small IT department, which usually means that they spend most of their time keeping the lights on and managing day-to-day operations instead of thinking about how to encourage digital transformation
Managed IT services offer a lot of things that simply aren't possible with a smaller IT department: 24/7 monitoring, enhanced data security and resilience, and the scalability to keep up with your growth. With data breaches and identity theft at an all-time high
, and hackers increasingly going after SMBs, expert help to safeguard and protect your business is critical.
Technology Keeps the Team Together
Even as teams become farther-flung, at least physically, technology helps keep everyone collaborating like never before. Software like Sococo
, and SamePage
are changing the way that we communicate and collaborate, ensuring that physical location is no longer a barrier to business growth.
As more and more companies continue to find ways to embrace a younger and more technologically savvy workforce, the possibilities for new and innovative solutions will continue to grow. Make sure that you're in a position to capitalize on the benefits of these tools with the right infrastructure: solid enterprise broadband and a fast and flexible network.
What You Can Do Right Now
Technology is changing what is possible for most businesses and employee expectations are shifting. More and more workers are telecommuting or even going fully remote if they can. Meanwhile, managed services enable you to take a more modular approach to keep your employees focused on the core business. As technology continues to morph, we'll see newer and more radical solutions to one of the oldest challenges around: helping people collaborate more effectively.
● Consider hiring a distributed team to broaden your options for talent.
● Implement the infrastructure that's necessary to quickly adopt new tech.
● Consider a managed services solution to keep your team focused on your core business.
● Keep on top of new advances that heighten the possibilities for collaboration.
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