The new sales world – part 2: enabling home, office and hybrid working
In the first piece in this series, I posed several questions that business leaders should ask themselves in order to prepare for the next normal. One of them was: “What is my strategy for equipping my workforce for a mixture of remote and office working?” Because while home-working has hugely increased during the pandemic, the office will still have a role to play in future.
Some businesses will want 80% of their workforce back in the office, others only 20%. But ultimately every business is going to be somewhere on this continuum – and they’ll all need to ensure their employees enjoy the same great collaboration experiences regardless of where they’re working from.
An all-in-one collaboration platform like Webex, which allows everyone to message, meet, call and share content from anywhere, is the foundation these great experiences are built upon. But you can’t expect people to adapt to hybrid working overnight. You also need to understand the pressures they face across different working environments and which technologies and working practices could alleviate them.
These pressures have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re in the middle of a video meeting and your children jump online for a distance learning lesson, for instance, it can make a serious dent in your bandwidth. And it’s not like you can escape elsewhere if lockdowns are in place. So first and foremost, business leaders need to show they understand that people are still figuring out how to balance the demands of work and family life.
Once they understand the issues their people are facing, they can start thinking about how best to address them. A platform like Webex, for instance, is designed to improve the experience of remote workers with less-than-ideal networks. Even with 50% packet loss your sales teams can still hold satisfying video meetings. And thanks to “region of interest” video encoding, Webex also provides a higher quality image for the more important areas of the video such as a person’s face – crucial when you’re trying to build a connection with a customer.
As a business leader, you also need to ensure your sales teams understand how to get the most out of meetings that have a mix of in-person and remote participants. Because while we’ve all become used to the dynamic of one person speaking and several other people listening, when you’ve got three people in an office meeting room and three people at home the dynamic suddenly changes.
The pre-meeting chatter that often occurs in office environments could make these meetings feel less productive – and even frustrating – for remote participants who are used to the quick “in and out” video meetings that have become common over the past six months. So how do you address that?
Empathy for those who aren’t in the room will certainly make life easier for everyone. But technology can also play a supportive role. Webex Assistant, for instance, can automatically detect when a user enters a conference room based on the presence of their mobile phone and prompt them to start the scheduled meeting with a simple voice command – something that could ensure casual conversations doesn’t delay the start of the meeting.
Remote participants should also have access to the technology they need to perform at their best. That might be a noise-cancelling Cisco Headset, or even a desktop Cisco DX device if they spend lots of time collaborating with colleagues or customers. It’s a big, beautiful HD touchscreen that ensures you don’t need to hunch over a laptop or squint to read on-screen text – a constant annoyance for people who spend much of their day in video meetings.
Naturally hybrid workforces also come with a host of new security requirements. Both office-based and remote workers need to know their calls, meetings and data are secure at all times, and with Webex they will be. Our platform extends enterprise-class security to the home – including end-to-end encryption. That means from the moment any data leaves an employee’s machine, it remains safe until it gets to the recipient’s device. That’s vital when you’re collaborating with customers from outside the organisation.
When COVID-19 hit, many business leaders thought they and their employees would be back in the office by now. But today, having realised that remote working simply works, many of them are now wondering if they could reduce their real-estate footprint.
Even when businesses do decide to retain some or all of their office space, that space is likely to be used quite differently in future. Do you need a virtual showroom to help your sales team drive sales remotely? Or could some of your excess real-estate be used to create a socially distanced environment that customers can safely visit? These are questions you need to be asking today, not tomorrow, if you want to avoid the financial penalties of under-utilised office space.
Another thing that should be high on the agenda is the role HR can play in supporting the shift to hybrid working. For instance, how can they help to ensure that employees engage in the same best practices for a meeting no matter whether they dial in, use video, or are sat face to face in a conference room? People are often more passive in a video meeting simply because they associate watching a screen with entertainment, which is the last thing you want from your sales team. So don’t neglect the training aspect of the shift to hybrid working
Webex and our 30,000 partner organisations fully understand the change management aspect of this shift and how to support businesses throughout it. Every one of our partners knows how important it is to have a device strategy that supports future elasticity between office and remote working, backed by a secure platform like Webex that seamlessly connects every employee. Because no matter where people choose to work from in future, they should all be able to enjoy the same great collaboration experiences.
To find out more about Webex and sign-up for a free 90-day trial, visit: www.cisco.com/c/en_uk/solutions/collaboration/webex-free-trial.htmlTags: