When businesses summarily switched to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic, many found themselves struggling with the decision about which communication technology to use. In countless cases, team members found themselves inundated with a multitude of messages and notifications from different apps, from Zoom and Trello to Slack and Teams.
However, as remote work morphed from an emergency effort into a new normal, several technologies stepped up to meet the needs of distributed teams. This is particularly crucial as countless companies are planning to continue (partial) remote work after the pandemic. A McKinsey survey of executives found that they were planning to reduce physical office space by 30%.
Most significant in terms of reshaping the digital workplace are UCaaS platforms. With a market growth rate of 29% year over year, these solutions are now among the most popular in the remote work arena.
But what exactly are UCaaS solutions? What do they encompass? And which of their advantages are driving ever more companies to adopt them?
What is UCaaS?
UCaaS is short for Unified Communications as a Service. The term refers to cloud platforms that offer a comprehensive set of communication and remote collaboration tools.
Essentially, these solutions allow distributed teams to centralize all their workflows, from virtual meetings to file sharing.
Originally, UCaaS grew out of VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol. As its name suggests, this technology powers voice calling via the internet, the cornerstone of modern business telephony.
Since VoIP providers were already maintaining high-quality networks and distributed datacenters to guarantee the quality and uptime of their platforms, adding similar services was the next logical step.
The inclusion of video calling, text messaging, live chats, and email transformed UCaaS platforms into omnichannel communication hubs. In addition, many providers also offer team collaboration features, such as file sharing and project management tools.
Plus, artificial intelligence (AI) integrations provide productivity-enhancing functionalities, from automatic note-taking and transcription, to advanced analytics and sentiment analysis.
Businesses Harness the UCaaS Cloud Advantage
For businesses, cloud-based UCaaS platforms provide a multitude of advantages, leading to their increased prominence in the remote work sphere.
To begin with, centralizing all communications into a single platform allows businesses to shape an aligned and flexible communication strategy.
No longer do team members, managers, or even customers have to flit between different platforms, or juggle a multitude of various notifications, breaking their focus. Instead, they can benefit from a centralized productivity hub.
UCaaS can also considerably relieve communication budgets. Companies no longer have to support a variety of different channels, each of them with its own subscription fees or even maintenance costs for physical infrastructure. Instead, they only have to pay subscription fees for a single, central platform. And these fees are highly flexible and easily scalable in most cases, with many providers offering pay-as-you-go solutions.
In addition, UCaaS also brings simplicity in terms of maintaining an integrated network of business apps. Today, businesses rely on a large variety of platforms for their various needs – from bookkeeping to customer relationship management (CRM). To maximize the benefits from each of these platforms, it is necessary to shuffle data between them. However, the more platforms there are, the higher the chance that some won’t integrate properly, causing ruptures in crucial data flows.
Having just one communication and collaboration platform – in the form of UCaaS – reduces this risk. Moreover, it ensures that workflows and data management run as smoothly as possible.
Benefiting Each and Every Team Member
Remote – or least hybrid – work is a certain feature of countless workers’ future, with 91% or organizations now in favor of remote work models. In this future, UCaaS benefits them in a variety of ways.
For one thing, it helps tackle one of the main stress factors of working remotely: Keeping up with the never-ending flood of messages and notifications.
The higher the number of separate communication channels, the more stressful it is for team members to keep up with every one of them. That, in turn, makes it more likely that they will miss important messages, despite their best intentions.
At the same time, constantly checking on these channels and switching between them for different purposes is a huge productivity killers in many current remote work setups.
By unifying team collaboration and communication in a single spot, UCaaS helps cut back on these stress factors, and boosts remote team productivity.
In addition, the latest advances in workflow automation and AI assistance that UCaaS providers offer also help teams cut back on repetitive tasks, streamline processes, and spend more time on challenging and creative activities.