Blogs | Access4

Everything you need to know about business phone systems

For organisations large and small, activating a functional business phone system is one of the first critical installations required for day to day operations. For many businesses, once complete, it’s rarely thought upon again, until the existing system requires a substantial investment to upgrade or the technology can no longer facilitate business requirements. Today, business communications have transformed from a simple inbound number to an enhanced customer experience platform and a feature-rich collaboration space for employees. So it’s worth the review to see ensure your business phone system is truly working for you.

What is a business phone system?

In simple terms, a business phone system facilitates internal and external calls for a company via multiple lines and allows for a range of business-critical features such as call routing, transfers, voicemail and call queues. Traditionally, business phone systems relied on the installation and maintenance of on-premise hardware, also known as a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). Capable of maintaining small-to-medium business requirements but known for their high investment and technical costs, business owners with traditional PBX systems often reach a point where the cost to upgrade the hardware and functionality becomes too excessive.  In contrast, cloud based phone systems offer flexibility by removing the hard-line connection to the public phone network and with a virtual connection via the internet.  Cloud business phone systems eliminate the need for technical installation and maintenance associated with physical hardware, and use Session Border Controllers (SBCs) commonly housed in datacentres to connect securely with voice carriers via the internet. This solution offers a high level of security and business continuity, ensuring phone lines are active regardless of any in-office event.

Technical detail aside, business phone systems also have a unique role to fulfill. They need to be able to facilitate internal interactions across multiple locations, provide a reliable route of contact for external calls and ensure customer interactions are efficient and satisfactory, linking the relevant department to suit the customer’s individual needs.  We’ve identified four main business phone system requirements to use as a guide:

  • Businesses with a single reception desk which pass calls through to the relevant extension.
  • Businesses with call filtering via IVR (Interactive Voice Response) functionality.
  • Businesses with multiple reception desks and medium-to-high call volumes.
  • Businesses experiencing high growth or with mobile workforce requirements.

Understanding where your business falls in terms of these requirements is the first step to determining how you can find a platform that will suit your business as it grows over time.

How to choose a business phone system

When looking to select a new business phone system the first logical step is to consider what is missing from your current phone system and what you are trying to achieve. Some of these measures could include:

  • Increasing and measuring staff productivity (particularly in relation to call centre/customer-based operations)
  • Tracing missed calls
  • Better management of busy call lines
  • Adding improved reception facilities
  • Quick identification of customers and CRM integration

At Access4, our technical team regularly help customers with their phone system requirements and conversations seem to align to similar challenges. “We need a business phone system that is easy to use”, “It needs to be simple”, “It needs to be simple to configure”, and so on right down to, “can we change the amount of rings?” and “can I schedule call redirections”. What rings true here, is that business phone systems need to be simple, portable, customisable – and to exceed expectations, scalable.  Let’s break this down.

Keep it simple

Business phone systems should require minimal training, feature quick installation and inspire fast adoption within the team. Partnering with a trusted managed service provider is a great way to ensure that you’re provided with an intuitive system that has synergies with your existing business software (such as Microsoft Teams Calling), features plug and play devices for easy scaling and can offer data driven insights into your customer services. For collaboration focused departments, features such as shared resources across multiple sites and live calendar integration offer seamless alignment for onsite and remote users.

Distributed Workforce ready

Any forward-thinking organisation will already be aware of their ability to quickly move to remote operations and this is key to your choice of business phone system. Important features to look for are: Real time syncing across multiple devices, full functionality across office phone and mobile apps, DID integration into collaboration platforms, carrier grade infrastructure and geo-redundant data centres.

Customisable and scalable

An agile phone system that offers drag and drop advanced call features such as custom on hold music, voicemail to email, time of day routing and seamless technology switching (without changing providers) is key to enabling flexibility for growth as your business requirements change. Another important consideration is the ability to quickly scale up and down in response to seasonality or external environment conditions. Are you able to quickly add phones to support additional contract staff during busy periods and remove them again when you return to BAU?

Join the cloud

We’re all familiar with the benefits of utilising cloud services in our personal lives, and when it comes to our business phone systems the advantages are limitless. Combining ‘as a service’ consumption with the latest innovation and technology cloud based phone systems deliver further advantages, particularly around disaster recovery and control.  By enabling application or web based management tools services can be enabled or disabled in seconds, and relocated to almost anywhere an internet connection is available. True mobility and collaboration tools can further enhance your experience, and give you a competitive edge.

How much do business phone systems cost?

Determining an exact cost for your business phone system will of course be dependent on the scale and the unique requirements of your business, but there are some key areas you can look out for to ensure you’re reducing costs where possible and getting the most value out of your phone system and call plans.

  • Look for no upfront costs: no hardware and no installation.
  • Plan for a predictable bill and avoid bill shock by selecting a plan with included calls gives you flexibility for budgeting.
  • No lock-in contract. Get the flexibility you need to upgrade your technology in line with your business goals.

It’s hard to look past the significant benefits of cloud-based business phone systems when considering costs. There’s typically no upfront capital investment requirement, and, in Australia, tax benefits for operational costs undertaken. Communications as a service also eliminates the potential for ongoing costs associated with hardware including maintenance and upgrades, engineering and other technical support, data centre and business recovery measures and platform management resources.

Choosing the wrong business system can have lasting effects on your organisation. How much does it cost you to miss a phone call? How many of your customers will jump to a competitor if they hit a voicemail? It’s a hard choice to make, and that’s why we recommend choosing a provider that understands your business and can deliver a solution with the right technology to suit you. At the end of the day, your phone number is the door to your business, will you be there when the bell rings?

By Tim Jackson

This pandemic has been the single biggest catalyst to get everyone thinking about their work practices, home workspace needs, transport frustrations and commercial leases. Employees have realised they don’t need to be in the office 5 days a week to communicate and feel part of an organisation or team.  Employers have learnt that with a small amount of effort and planning, they can implement initiatives to help their staff feel connected and included while being distributed.  

I talk to my team regularly, here’s an insight into what they have shared with me: 

  • I’ve realised it’s possible to work from home most of the time while my kids are in school. I only need to be in the office once or twice a week.”  
  • “I’ve always wanted to move to my holiday home and travel in once a week, or even fortnight.” 
  • “Working virtually actually makes sense, I can’t believe we have all been going to offices for so long! 
  • “My one-minute commute from the kitchen to the study is amazing. Why have I been wasting 2+ hours a day in peak hour traffic, spending thousands of dollars on transporting myself to the office five days a week?” 
  • “I’m feeling a lot healthier being able to exercise earlier or structure my day totally differently because I’m at home and the typical 9 to 5 no longer applies 

As an employer, my own conversations are turning to the question of company spend, culture and overheads. 

  • “If everyone continues to work from home, we don’t need so much office space. 
  • “With less people physically in our office, overheads and utilities have reduced significantly 
  • “We were outgrowing our office. With our shift in flexible working, even with our projected growth, the team could stay put for another 5 years. Now I can maximise the office space with a redesign focussed on collaboration or move to a purpose-built collaboration space. Not to mention we’ve eliminated the need to buy more space and parking. 

It’s time for businesses and individuals to review their old ways of working, there’s no going back. 

Business leaders operating successfully through COVID-19 have adapted and invested in distributed working so their teams could keep performing. Now is the time to continue and provide flexibility wherever possible. 

Organisations of all sizes should review and implement distributed and flexible work policies. Ensure there is transparency and that all staff can participate in shaping these new agreementsAt Access4, we found it helpful to be clear about the difference between flexible and distributed working. 

Distributed Working is the ability for staff to seamlessly work outside the designated office. This could be at home, a café, co-working space or while travelling. They are not reliant on attending a company office location to successfully perform in their role. 

Flexible Working is the ability for an individual to work on the days, and range of hours they desireWith this approach we recommend also including designated contact hours (e.g. be available to others from 10am-2pm weekdays) to ensure availability for meetings and collaboration but start or finish times are left up to the individuals’ personal preferences
 

We learned a lot putting our own policies in place. The key areas we focused on were: 

  1. Challenge historical thinking and identify which positions can be flexible and distributed. 
  2. Are the distributed working conditions suitable for a wider range of working hours? Wellbeing and ergonomics are important, an OH&S focussed checklist can help. 
  3. Use a roster or booking system for your office desks and workspaces to spread out contact and manage attendance limits. 
  4. The physical or fit out changes your office needs to help team members spread out or collaborate more effectively.  
  5. Communication and technology systems needed to support teams and their distributed collaboration needs when connected with each other, and your customers. 

It’s clear the time is now for businesses to adapt and throw out the ‘old school’ mentality that ‘you need to be in the office to be productive’. For those willing to make the change you can expect to see more engaged staff, retention of top talent, and improved recruitment attracting new candidates from markets and locations previously out of reach.  A renewed focus on metrics that matter ensures your team are clear on the outcomes expected from their roles. Bring transparency to those metrics through easily accessible business performance dashboards and BI tools as everyone adapts to the new ways of working.  

You aren’t alone in this. There are speciality providers to guide and facilitate the changes that businesses are going through, like workplace designers to add more collaborative and break out space to your existing offices. Access4 partners are here as your trusted Managed Services Provider to ensure that voice, video and collaboration systems, in addition to your hardware are ready to keep staff and your customers connected. 

Ready to connect with a Managed Service Provider? Send us a message:

Get started now

 

Microsoft Teams Calling – Better product, better process

Access4’s latest innovation, Microsoft Teams Calling pairs the flexibility of the popular collaboration software with customisable, advanced features to create a complete business phone system. The incredible growth of remote working solutions and collaboration software has made this a popular choice for Access4 partners, and today we’re happy to announce a new set of features to enhance the sales and provisioning process.

New product options

Available in three flexible options, MS Teams Calling can be purchased via a contended channel model suited to large deployments, a per user license model and an enhanced user model which includes a license for BroadWorks hardware and software deployments and is compatible with SASBOSS add-ons such as CRM Integration, Call Recording and Contact Centre functionality.

Provisioning improvements

Provision to suit the capabilities of every business. Choose from automated fully scripted options through to downloadable customised scripts, or opt for the basic manually configured option.

With a range of pricing options from PAYG through to included calls and bundling, We’ve focused on providing scale and flexibility with options to suit customers looking for a basic Teams rollout all the way to complex hybrid environments utilising BroadWorks contact centre solutions.


Activate Microsoft Teams Calling for your business

MS Teams - Get started now

After an intensive search, we’re delighted to introduce you to Cliff, your new Training Manager. With a background in telco, higher education and the technology sector, Cliff will help further innovate and evolve the training we offer you.

“I’m excited to bring a digital-first mindset and modern learning strategies to the pathways we offer to partners today.” Cliff says, “There’s a great foundation here thanks to my predecessor, I’m making it a priority to help this continue to scale as our partners, and Access4 continue to grow.”

In the coming weeks and months, partners can look forward to:

  • Transformed online learning pathways focusing on your user experience in addition to being much more engaging and interactive.
  • A 100% self-paced learning option, for those of you who don’t want to wait for webinars or just want a faster onboarding.
  • Learning from anywhere! Responsive bite-sized content that you can consume from any device or location.

Cliff also comes to us with experience in digital enablement, so you can look forward to improvements to the help and guidance available in SASBOSS and the Partner Resource Centre too. From Cliff, “We use some of the best tools on the market for online learning and digital adoption including Rise360 and WalkMe. Our partners are going to see significant benefits as we continue to leverage their capability and make help easier to access in the moments it’s needed.”

Who’s got your number?

Just recently one of the industry publishers covered the subject of the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that some of the Carriage Service Providers (CSPs) failed to provide accurate data. We decided it’s a good time to address the topic and help with building the awareness around it. In this blog, we’ll provide more insights around the topic, obligations and specifics related to VoIP telephony.

Benefits for the customer

The IPND is used by the emergency call service, alert system, law enforcement and national security agencies. The primary purpose is to have accurate data about the caller in case of a life-threatening emergency calls or security situation that could be of public interest.

SASBOSS delivery to the IPND and nomadic tagging

We’ve created ‘direct communication’ between SASBOSS, our provisioning portal, and the IPND. When our partners set up customers in SASBOSS, they must ask them for the address and related information and fill out all required fields. The standard information a CSP will collect is the public number, the name of the customer, the name of the carrier, the service address of the customer, customer’s listing preferences, service purpose (business, private and similar), and an additional field that flags the service as nomadic to ensure the operator clarifies the correct address. Access4 sends updates to IPND weekly, so we can have the flexibility to adjust DID numbers. When it comes to the ‘bulk uploads’ and address updates, if the group address is updated, all DID numbers that belong to that group will be re-sent to IPND with the new address information.

A task we take seriously is to ensure our partners are educated on how they should address this matter when provisioning services through SASBOSS.

Data privacy and customer choices

In an era of oversharing and data security concerns, some of your customers may decide to provide incorrect data, thinking they are protecting their privacy. As far as the IPND is concerned this could cause a number of adverse outcomes. It’s worth mentioning that Access4 DID numbers are uploaded as unlisted.

Types of errors

Access4 fixes hard and soft errors within 1 business day. ‘Soft errors’ would be missing fields or inaccurate data, with two days window to correct, while ‘hard errors’ are where your data wouldn’t be uploaded at all, and the timeframe to correct would be within 24 hours.

IPND Manager

An IPND Manager is a company’s (carrier’s) representative and the first point of contact when it comes to the data accuracy. If you have any IPND related questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch directly with your provider (our partner) or email us at tac@access4.com.au

Data accuracy and auditing

The authorities are urging the continuous process of data improvement. There are regular auditing processes in place, so we encourage our partners to ensure you consider your ongoing improvements for data accuracy and work closely with your customers to build awareness.

If you are already our partner, here is the list of few things you should consider:

  • Capturing all data during onboarding. Include this subject in your customer onboarding process and inform your customers about the importance of having the correct data from day one.
  • Educate your customers. Write up a quick blog or a guide about the importance of the IPND and why it’s necessary to keep their data correct allowing them to participate proactively.
  • Updating customer data. You will know your customer database best, so think about how often you could organise a follow-up to get updates or to remind your customers to check their data.
  • Regular reminders: Suggestion; set-up a permanent banner in your monthly newsletter that will remind your customers to communicate changes with you.

Proactive approach if you are an end-customer

It’s always easier and faster when all involved parties work together, so why not put your provider on your ‘must update’ list, to be sure you have provided updated information?

IPND checklist for CSPs for download:
https://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Telco/Numbering/IPND/ipnd-checklist-for-csps-2

Sources:
Industry Code C555:2017 INTEGRATED PUBLIC NUMBER DATABASE (IPND)
Industry Guideline G619:2017 IPND DATA
VOICEOVERIP_EMERGENCY SERVICES BY www.acif.org.au
https://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Telco/Carriers-and-service-providers/Emergency-call-service/voip-and-the-integrated-public-number-database-i-acma

The Hero of Your Mobile Integration

What is the future workstyle for the small to medium enterprise-size businesses in the era of mobility, millennials and generation Z? Do you know which applications your employees use for everyday communication within the company and with your clients? As a small company owner, you may be concerned about the communication tools your employees use, how they use them, and the impact they are having on your customers or clients.

Maybe you are considering establishing some communication standards for your business or just thinking about change, looking at the hidden costs of the premise-based small business phone system. Perhaps you feel it’s just too much trouble to worry about tools that seem to be only available to bigger businesses or corporate teams? But it’s not – and what’s more, change can positively impact your employees and your business.

The first step of your cloud transformation

Teams usually start their transformation by moving their documentation to the Cloud. They will look for a ‘freemium’ feature and functionality and consider the pricing and security aspects of the service. Accessibility across devices could be the next step, but then things get slightly complicated – should your employees be able to use their private mobile phone? Do you expect them to be available while on the go?

A new era of mobile productivity

The world is mobile and on the go and BroadSoft’s infographic about mobile productivity is showing following;

  • 50% of employees use their smartphone as their primary device
  • we spend 60% of the time away from our desks
  • 50% of companies require employees to supply their own device for work
  • 55% of emails opened on mobile devices
  • 50% workforce will be millennials by 2020.

Your future workforce, the loyalty challenge and team efficiency

BroadSoft’s survey ‘The Future of Work’ finds that information overload, disconnected workflows, fragmented communications, inefficient meetings and projects, cost and complexity are the typical consequences of disconnected content management technologies.

Deloitte’s Millennial Survey for 2018 confirms what the recruiting industry is already dealing with; Australian millennials believe company culture is more important than money. 67% of them will choose a new employer based on a positive work environment, and that’s 15% higher than findings on a global level.

Apparently, millennials are not so loyal either, and they tend to stick around less than two years. Simon Sinek, author and organisational consultant, suggests that loyalty is not a generational thing, but human; everyone wants the same thing from their work environment. But millennials and Gen Z grew up with technology and might be less patient with non-efficient work environments.

Your phone system – the hero of mobile integration and your journey to the cloud?

Looking at all these findings, communicating seamlessly across platforms might be the next thing you will consider. Imagine your small team with a corporate – looking communication platform: text messaging, quick file sharing, switching from a desk phone and office computer to mobile, or just scheduling a video call for participants within or outside your organisation.

There is no difference from the perspective of your clients or customers, as well as your employees; they will have the same expectations and you have the unique opportunity to make your business more collaborative. It might not resolve ‘the loyalty issue’ but just might be the opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss.

Learn more about the opportunities you can get through Managed Voice and why is it easy to add Unified Communications as a Service, or just get in touch with us if you would like to learn more about your options!

 

Sources:

  1. https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennial-survey.html
  2. https://au.pcmag.com/cloud-services/45359/guide/the-best-cloud-storage-and-file-sharing-providers-for-busine
  3. https://www.inc.com/why-do-employees-really-quit-their-jobs-research-says-it-comes-down-to-these-top-8-reasons.html
  4. https://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/phone-systems/pbx/pbx-101/history-of-pbx-phone-systems
  5. BroadSoft, The Future of Work: BroadSoft, A New Era of Mobile Productivity
  6. Access4 Whitepaper – Cloud ISDN

Not just partner training – it’s a career opportunity

You will hear us talking about the ‘Once in a generation shift to the cloud’ often. In the world of learning, a once in a generation shift happened a long time ago causing younger generations to choose lower-cost education over a traditional degree. In this Q/A we’ll brainstorm about this trend and the opportunity it presents with Ian Tennant, our newly appointed Partner Training Manager, who will provide insights of our training program. Our friendly and supportive team is creating an opportunity for our partners to join us and go through our new training program, which will give them the keys for entering the world of Unified Communications, and leverage the advances of this technology in a way they might not get anywhere else at the moment.

“When teams are appropriately trained, companies save an average of $70,000 annually and receive a 10% increase in productivity. As Generation Z enters the workplace, they face an even greater skills gap, where 65% of the jobs they will need to fill don’t even exist yet”.

Ian, I was doing some ‘social network’ research (some call it an excuse for stalking your colleagues!), and I noticed a switch in your career which happened somewhere around 2004. Can you tell me more about it?

It was probably fate intervening. I am a physical education teacher and had always been interested in training or teaching. Back in the day, I was working as a Sales Representative for a Pharmaceutical company. This particular company put a huge emphasis on training as a competitive advantage. The opportunity arose to take a role in their training department and I never looked back. I had found my calling. I really loved working with people to help them develop the knowledge and skills to be successful.

Deloitte is considering education/training as one of the ‘fantastic five’ to work in over the next 20 years, and reskilling and retraining current workers is a big part of what we can see in the market; what do you find challenging when it comes to our industry?

For me, the main challenge being new is initially to understand the real needs of our partners from a training point of view. Truly understanding this will be critical for how we shape our training curriculum.

One of the other challenges is the speed of business. The process of signing up a new partner and onboarding can be rapid. Partners then need to be trained yesterday! Finding the time and space to train is an ongoing challenge.

What do you think about the trend of ‘Leaders encouraging more human interaction?

In an age when we are immersed more in more in a digital world staying connected and engaging with our colleagues and customers is critical. I think its hard to beat face to face communication, but I know that it’s not always possible. A lot of human interaction can still be achieved using various digital tools we have.

What type of learners does industry recognise and how do you address these profiles in the training process?

In the corporate environment, all our learners are adults who have particular learning needs. It’s important to recognise these when designing training. Our learners come to training with life experience, even if it’s in a different field or unrelated industry it still matters to them and needs to be recognised. They are typically focused on learning relevance and how the content can help them do their job better. If it’s not relevant then they may not see the value.

The corporate learner is also time poor, so learning needs to be efficient and to the point. Learning by doing is also an important consideration.

Tell us more about the learning model you will apply to Access4 training programme?

There is a learning model called 70:20:10 which is very influential in the corporate training world. This model says that most of our learning (the 70) happens on the job and when we have to perform a task. This means that we need to look at how we can build a training curriculum, and resources to support this model. As a result, resources to support just in time training become critical. This includes videos, mobile content, knowledge bases and even coaching.

What type of learning curve will you build for our partners and us?

It’s really important that we get our partners up to speed as quickly as possible. End to end we aim to have partners trained and certified through approximately three days of training. This will be chunked down to smaller modules with our calendar allowing a partner to complete all 10 modules within two weeks. As we digitise more of our content I expect this to reduce further and the speed to certification increasing. In trying to make the training efficient it will be important not to lose sight of the need to ensure we have partners attaining a high standard.

Learning in the digital era changed how we learn, what do you find most innovative and what ‘old school’ techniques do you believe still hold value?

Before joining Access4 I worked on a project that used Virtual Reality (VR) to train paramedics to deal with mass casualty incidents. I love using tech to do things better. I’m not big on tech for tech sake. In the case of VR, it’s an emerging technology that will be a game changer because it will solve some really big training challenges.

The other exciting thing to see is the re-emergence of video as a training tool. YouTube has driven a who back to the future way of learning.

I cut my teeth as a face to face trainer and coach. I have worked on a number of projects that have successfully combined both. Together they are still one of the absolute best ways to drive performance.

Can you briefly summarise the training program you are building at the moment and when you expect the start?

It’s been exciting to work on rolling out the Access4 Partner Certification Program. The program will go live from 4 September 2018 with a curriculum that offers core modules to onboard partners. The initial training content consists of 10 core modules that cover content across Sales, Marketing, Pre Sales, Technical Support and Billing staff.

Initially, the training will be delivered in half day face to face training blocks as well as 90-minute online options.

The second phase of content development will see us blend digital content with face to face allowing for more self-service just in time learning.

What do you think is the most crucial aspect of the training process for our partners?

What will be critical is for our partners to commit to the training as part of not only the onboarding process but on an ongoing basis. We need partners to see and appreciate the value of the training to their business and to ensure they make the investment to send their staff.

Every industry has its no-no’s what’s the biggest NO in the world of training development?

Boring training content… The trainer talking too much and not engaging the learners.

What do you do when you don’t think about training?

One of my passions is Football ( the real one that some people call soccer!) I still take a keen interest as a coach at a local club. I’m really interested in what helps drive performance and develop high performers. I guess it I’m a training junkie!

I know you have other hobbies, tell us what they are?

As mentioned, I love football and I’m also a keen cyclist. The other love is music. I have way too many CD’s and Vinyl (which is cool now) and always have music playing at home.

How do we help flexible working?

Hours, work patterns or locations are common elements of discussion when employees and employers negotiate flexibility. Depending on the industry, role or role requirements, there will often be a need to consider at least one aspect where flexible working arrangements are required.

The term ‘work-life balance’ has been a very trendy topic in the last few years, but digital ‘motivational addicts’ have challenged it by saying it’s not possible to achieve since working hours make the majority of people’s day and week. Would you agree? Does it mean the work/life balance cannot be achieved?
Flexible Working Day recently found the following ;

  • 48% of companies do not have flexible work policies
  • 75% of part-time roles are held by women
  • 79% new dads and 85% woman want to work flexibly
  • 27% of men and 49% of woman experience discrimination when returning from parental leave
  • 45% of millennials or Gen Y choose flexibility over pay.

So, what now?

It’s about building a secure, comfortable and flexible working environment. Blogs, articles, TED talks and training research studies sessions are showing that even the ‘big bucks’ can’t poach a good employee if he or she is happy with their current position.

There is another ongoing debate about the time spent at work and employee satisfaction. Yes, you can work overtime, and your family might miss you, but there is a difference between a satisfied employee who arrives home a bit later but content, and one who comes home at 5.00 depressed, stressed and worried.

Unified Communications – you don’t have to be present, just ‘dial-in’.

It’s a simple rule, and we apply it daily, more precisely every morning at 8.30 and 8.46. If we can’t attend a specific meeting, we just dial-in. If that’s not possible (on rare occasions), we pass our daily agendas or ‘roadblocks’ to the person in charge. If you are late and you don’t dial in on time, ‘the punishment’ is $5, which goes towards our ‘savings’ for Friday drinks.

Need to discuss it but can’t arrange the meeting and it’s not ‘e-mail material’?

A typical situation. We use our Communicator to form quick group chats if we need to discuss something. Again, we don’t have to be in the same physical location. You might think that group chat is a common thing these days, but companies rarely use it as they don’t find messaging apps ‘professional’ or ‘business facing’. Unified Communications gives it a ‘corporate feel’ while keeping the style of communication relaxed and flexible.

Your mobile phone and your computer are synced, what about your desk phone?

Unified Communications finally allows your desk phone to join the ‘cool group’. So, go ahead and pull that call to your computer or the other way around.

Video conferencing or training

Every 14 days, we invite our partners to join us for a 30-40-minute training session of the latest SASBOSS features or ‘how-to’s’. On a daily basis, we use our screen sharing capability to help train them and navigate around different features.

Flexism and the Flexible Working Day

The International calendar of important days communicates identified causes/days across the globe, and flexible working joined the calendar on 6th of June. #FWDay, #FlexWorkFullLife, #GenderFlexGap and #TackleFlexism are some of the hashtags used for promoting this cause. The term ‘flexism’ is used for those who still have a lack of trust when it comes to implementing this change in our working environments.

In our Cloud ISDN whitepaper, we mentioned how flexibility has been a part of the Fair Work Act for a long time now. Flexible Working Day points out that technology, families and work organisation has changed, but our 9 – 5, Monday – Friday lifestyle has stayed the same. So clearly, we still have a long way to go.

Juggle Strategies, our work-flexibility partners, defined four critical success factors for implementing flexible working – Trust, Mindset, Communication and Outcome performance management.

Trust and Mindset can be most challenging; the challenge is not only about convincing managers that work flexibility is good for the organisation (not just the employees), but that a positive mindset will be driven through that trust. And we all know how mindset can fuel or block change.

We are happy to say that at Access4 we have that trust and mindset and that we actively work to build on this foundation. We also advocate flexible working among our partners, and we hope that our product will be one of the primary tools for business environments to make this change more manageable.

Customer first through passion and processes Innovate, Empower, Partner

According to the Customer Service Institute of Australia, passion and processes are crucial drivers of service excellence represented differently depending on the business type. To manage these two modules successfully, CSIA says companies will need to have them aligned. Access4 is a partner-focused organisation, so our value ‘customers first’ is the key one around which we organise everything we do, how we choose our priorities and even defined our other values to reflect the main one.

While customer focus can be cliché and easy to ‘talk about’, Access4 aligns processes to make customer’s experience a key metric not only for the business but all our staff and our partners. Net Promoter score is our measurement of customer experience as it is our ‘moment of truth’. We manage this through a bi-annual survey to our partners, and to the end customers.

Access4 partners and customer experience

To deliver this customer focus to the end users, our partners also need to demonstrate the same trait in their business. The successful implementation of our products with the end user means not only a good business outcome for our partner but success for us as well. When selecting partners to provide Access4 products to the market, customer experience is a key factor and a material element in all Access4 partner agreements. This is our guarantee that will make Access4 services synonymous with a great customer experience consistently regardless of the partner the end user chooses.

Access4 end users and customer experience

Our solutions are at the forefront of business collaboration delivered by cloud technology, and we know we must work on educating the market.

As a partner-driven business, we invest in market development and lead generation to help our partners succeed. Each partner has their individual goals, set of matching services and products and they will communicate them differently towards the market. We’ll tailor our support accordingly.

The end user is never out of our focus and probably the essence of our passion without us even noticing sometimes – we want to know what they need, how they communicate, we are curious about their industries and their specifics. The more we know and learn the better our partner support will be.

We want to contribute to this wave of improving how people work and live. If we participate in this motion of educating the leaders towards the flexible working mindset, by communicating our product to the market, we believe that the positive energy will spread through organisations. Speaking about that, we just revealed our next favourite value.

 

 

The business case for the flexible working practice

Melbourne, Australia, 8 March 2018 – As advocates of flexible working, we are always on a hunt for good case studies, so we want to share this one in particular because of its extraordinary figures! JuggleStrategies published this whitepaper almost 17 months ago, but we think results presented would be just as relevant today.

No matter which industry we got in touch with, we can confirm the same pattern; employees are looking for work-life balance, even if they are young and only starting their careers. Trends towards the minimalism in all aspects of life are pushing people to seek productive surroundings (not only in their work-related environments). All that, of course, corresponds with changes and benefits Unified Communications generate for forward-looking businesses.

  • Proven increase in employee engagement
  • Significant reduction in costs
  • Greater gender diversity & inclusion
  • Easier to attract top talent
  • Stress reduced and time regained
  • More efficient communication
  • Increased innovation

Recruiters or companies employing directly, advertise this benefit if they can, with listing various ‘perks’ they offer. But, it seems that workplace flexibility wins over free lunches or tickets to events.

We will provide the direct download link, but here are the most exciting findings (if you’re already not motivated enough by the reminder on the legislation introduced in ‘The Fair Work Act 2009’, so you might have already “got this” or you have a strategy how to “get there”).

Benefits of flexible working for businesses

1. Proven increase in employee engagement;
In Australia, Mirvac was able to increase engagement levels by 20%, simply by implementing a flexible working program for all employees.

2. Significant reduction in costs;
– Microsoft saw sick leave reduce by 40%,
– The American Management Association reported a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences, across some organisations implementing a range of flexible practices.

3. Greater gender diversity & inclusion;
-Bain18 reports that in flexible organisations, there is a 6% increase in women’s confidence to become a senior leader, and a 10% increase in aspiration to become a senior leader.

4. Easier to attract top talent;
– Businesses that don’t adapt will soon be left with the bottom of the talent pool and will suffer the consequences.

5. Stress reduced and time regained; flexibility decreases travel time, giving people more time to work and more control over their lives.

6. More efficient communication;
– Greater familiarity with video conferencing technologies also reduces the need for interstate and overseas travel, and global expansion is eased, as people can more comfortably build relationships and collaborate over long distances.

7. Increased innovation;
When women leave the workforce to have children, and can’t return because of a lack of flexibility, these ‘entrepreneurial mums’ are establishing and building their successful businesses instead.

Most common fears

1. ‘It’ll cost too much to implement’.
‘Roy Morgan was recently fined $72,000 for making a worker redundant when she returned from maternity leave and asked for flexible working arrangements’.

2. ‘Employees will take advantage and productivity will drop’.
The opposite – Flexibility grows Engagement which grows Performance.

3. ‘How can I manage staff when they’re not in front of me’?
For example, if management leans towards McGregor’s Theory X way of thinking, where it’s assumed that people are naturally lazy, and will avoid responsibility whenever possible, then more training and support will be in order. However, if McGregor’s Theory Y is more dominant, where it’s assumed that employees are happy to work, self-motivated and goal driven, then coaching may be all that’s needed.

‘When implemented correctly flexibility has the potential to increase productivity, engagement, retention, level of employee discretionary effort, diversity and the ability to decrease absenteeism, sick leave, cost (real estate, IT Infrastructure and energy) and carbon footprint’.

Source: http://www.jugglestrategies.com.au/business-case-for-flex/

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