3 cloud services that surged during COVID-19

Few people have framed the shock to the business world that has occurred as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic more succinctly than Satya Nadella. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” the Microsoft CEO said in his quarterly earnings report to Wall Street last spring.

And as bold as the claim may be, it’s not overhyping the dramatic workplace transformation that occurred when millions were sent to work from home in the early days of lockdown. Practically overnight, offices were shuttered and core business activities—from collaboration to the review of confidential documents—all shifted from taking place in physical locations to occurring in the cloud.

The unexpected explosion of cloud services

Businesses were investing in the cloud long before the pandemic. Months before words like “coronavirus” and “social distancing” became common parlance, Gartner predicted that global cloud investment would increase by a reasonable 17% in 2020, with the worldwide public cloud services market increasing from $227.8 billion up to $266.4 billion. 

Of course, such forecasts did not take into account that a sudden surge in remote work would require businesses to be able to provide to offsite employees the same level of access, utility, and security for all work resources, in order to maintain productivity. In the first quarter of 2020, spending on cloud infrastructure alone was up 37%. And the cloud investment spree is bound to continue: nearly 75% of finance leaders say they are planning for a more agile business environment moving forward, with the cloud playing an important role in such strategies.

To prioritize investments, it’s worth considering which cloud services have surged during COVID and why each specific area is proving critical for business success.

1. Cloud communication

Whether it’s sharing status updates with colleagues, talking through a problem or brainstorming an opportunity, or providing vital customer service, communication is the backbone of business. But while it’s easy to take work home, it’s far more challenging to transport a robust communication infrastructure, critical as this may be. 

Enter cloud communications—team messaging, video conferencing, and phone that are accessible from any location and device. Without offices, meeting rooms and hallways to act as connectors, cloud communications allowed employees to connect and collaborate with each other (as well as with external partners and customers). But in a crowded landscape some communications tools are proving more beneficial than others. 

Though it is possible to employ individual dedicated apps for functions such as video conferencing, answering customers support calls, and so on, a unified communications system that combines all functionalities into a single platform can overcome multiple work from home pain points. For example, conducting all communications via a unified solution eliminates the need for each individual to use multiple contact names and apps. These can act as the enemy of streamlining, increasing complexity and wasting time whenever employees need to connect.  – Read more

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7 remote work statistics you should know

It’s been a weird year, to say the least. Throughout 2020, news cycles and behavioral shifts have come so fast and furious that it feels like we’ve squeezed a decade of change into just a few months—and work has been no exception. Though the option to work remotely has long been on many workers’ wish lists, prior to March 2020, it was a benefit enjoyed by a privileged few. 

However, when COVID-19 lockdowns shuttered countless workplaces and forced 34% of previous commuters to work from home practically overnight, it created the opportunity to gather unprecedented data about what remote work is really like. 

This data does more than provide a snapshot of life during this rollercoaster of a year. With many companies—including tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter—planning to make working from home a permanent option for employees moving forward, these real-life insights offer businesses an important opportunity to inform the remote work experience of the future. 

From employee and employer attitudes about remote work to successes and pain points, taking some time to examine remote work statistics will allow organizations to refine their approach to new working arrangements.

Here are 7 stats about WFH you need to know.

1. 83% of office workers want to WFH at least once a week

Remote work doesn’t have to be all or nothing—employees want greater flexibility to do their best work in the setting that meets their needs. Based on data from PwC US Remote Work Survey, for the majority of workers this means a hybrid approach: coming into the office some days while reserving at least one day per week to WFH.

2. 55% of employers expect to offer flexible workweeks 

According to PwC’s survey, many employers are keen to deliver on their employees’ desire to work from home part-time. Even after the threat of COVID-19 dissipates, more than half of businesses say they’ll allow employees to work remotely at least one day per week. But they’ll still use the physical office as a hub for collaboration and community building. 

3. 55.8% feel they have everything they need to WFH productively

There are numerous prerequisites for successful remote work, and the good news is that the majority of employees working from home say they have access to all the necessary infrastructure, hardware, data, and platforms they need to be productive. But even after months of working from home, some employees are still struggling because they don’t have the full spectrum of tools they need. A third of workers say they have most—but not everything—they need to do their work, and more than 10% say they’re struggling, with either a significant shortfall or none of the tools they need to be productive.

4. Only 26% of leaders are still concerned about remote work productivity

Managers have long feared that home-based employees would slack off or face challenges that would stand in the way of productivity. But a majority of leaders now admit they were wrong. While concerns persisted in the earliest days of the pandemic, just one quarter of finance leaders are still worried remote work will result in less getting done. That’s down from 63% who had this concern in March.  – Read more

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Six ways to build a positive culture for your remote contact center

How do you work together when you’re not in an office, surrounded by your coworkers? More to the point, how do managers ensure their employees are engaged and have high morale when they can’t see them in person? These questions are especially pressing for contact center supervisors and their agents as they work remotely.

Consider six ways to build a positive culture for your remote contact center team, so your agents are motivated, happy, and productive.

What is a positive culture?

positive contact center culture has a number of characteristics:

  • Agents have high morale and are enthusiastic about being at work.
  • Team members collaborate effectively, both with one another and with managers.
  • There’s frequent, appropriate, and trustworthy communication from management and HR.
  • Agents are given the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
  • Managers can be flexible under changing circumstances.

Is a positive work culture possible with remote work?

When you think about building a positive work culture for your team, it may be difficult to imagine you can do that with remote workers. Yet, research shows it’s possible:

  • May 2020 Gallup poll points to remote workers being more engaged than their peers who work in an office – 32% vs. 28%.
  • Remote workers have higher job retention rates; a 2019 study reported that remote workers are 13% more likely to stay in their jobs for the next five years than onsite employees.
  • 2012 study from Stanford researchers revealed that transitioning to remote work boosts performance by 13%.

6 ways to build a positive work culture for a remote contact center

How do these principles and statistics apply to contact centers, especially to ones in which agents and managers are working remotely? It’s still possible for agents to work remotely and feel that they’re part of a vibrant, positive culture.

Here are six ways to create a positive work culture for contact center agents working remotely:

  1. Choose the right tools.
  2. Empower agents to find the answers themselves.
  3. Offer timely, relevant feedback to agents.
  4. Intelligently route contacts to the right agent.
  5. Customize workflows.
  6. Optimize schedules.

Choose the right tools

What do the right tools look like in a contact center environment? The right tools enable agents to connect to customers through the channel of their choice, on-site or remotely, while also giving managers real-time reports, agent monitoring capabilities, and in-depth customer surveys. Moreover, the right tools integrate with CRMs, so that agents can deliver personalized service to every customer.

It’s frustrating when the technology that’s supposed to enable agent jobs actually make them harder – 10% of workers have actually left a job because they were dissatisfied with the software and hardware they used. Cloud contact center technology allows agents to work remotely while maintaining high levels of performance and productivity.

Empower agents to find answers themselves

Two heads are better than one. There are times when your agents won’t know the answer and will need access to internal resources to answer a question. Market-leading cloud contact center solutions provide a shared directory with presence indication, so agents can reach out to company experts to solve issues.

When agents can collaborate effectively with other teams, you can see a productivity boost of 20 to 30%, according to McKinsey. Productive workers are less frustrated and more engaged, which leads to a more positive work environment for all (even for remote work). – Read more

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