Apr 08 2020

Preparing for Disaster: The Conferencing Tech That Can Protect Continuity for SMBs

Powering collaboration is key to keeping up production during a crisis.

Maintaining business continuity is critical for small businesses. There is often a slim margin of error for organizations that are operating with relatively limited resources, and an unexpected event like a superstorm, global illness or economic disaster can set off a chain reaction that ends with a business closing its doors. According to the website Chamber of Commerce, the biggest reason small businesses fail is because of a lack of incoming revenue, leaving them unable to pay employees or other expenses.

It’s therefore crucial that small businesses be able to withstand unforeseen circumstances. Being able to continue relatively normal business operations and productivity regardless of the situation can build a resilient organization, and a major part of that is being prepared to work without office space.

Whether office space is destroyed in a natural disaster or other factors prevent employees from coming in, powering a remote workforce is a key aspect of getting through a crisis. Employees need to be able to communicate and collaborate from anywhere, while also feeling supported during the transition to the home office. 

Use Conferencing Technology to Connect Employees

One of the advantages of having staff come into the office is having everyone in one place to get work done. Employees are available to take questions, make suggestions and offer problem-solving solutions immediately as issues arise or projects have to pivot. To maintain productivity, it’s crucial for businesses to recreate that environment as best they can with a remote workforce.

Conferencing technology plays a key role in this effort. Whether it’s voice or video, being able to communicate in real time can be the difference between a project getting done or hanging in limbo. To ensure employees are able to communicate without distractions, organizations can make sure they have equipment such as headsets to block out extraneous noise and allow them to be heard more clearly.

When employees use conferencing tools, there is a certain etiquette they should practice to keep meetings productive, Cisco Webex Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing Aruna Ravichandran told BizTech.

“When you’re working from home, you could have a dog barking in the background, or have somebody playing video games in another room. So there could be a lot of background noises,” she said. “Even though the doors are closed, the best way to keep the background noise down is by putting yourself on mute when you’re not actually talking in a meeting call.”

Videoconferencing can also help employees cope with remote work outside the scope of business. At a time when people are being told to avoid each other and stay away from crowds, it can feel isolating to not interact with other people. Being able to jump on video calls with coworkers not only helps get the job done, but also relieves the stress of feeling disconnected.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Enterprises need to streamline collaboration amid disaster.

Teams Need to Work Together Remotely

While a lot of the talk about collaboration technology centers on communication tools, businesses need more than that for teams to work together on projects. For example, document sharing and whiteboarding are just as critical to collaboration as videoconferencing and messaging systems, especially for more creative tasks.

“I was recently talking to a very large customer who was looking to send their entire design team to Korea,” Ravichandran said. “They had to stop that given COVID, but when you think about design, that conversation usually has to happen here, face to face. But because those technologies right now are really advanced, they were able to do complete whiteboarding across the board and continue their design conversations remotely.”

As businesses of all sizes scramble to get their employees the equipment and software they need, many are jumping to buy more licensing or capacity for tools they already have, thinking that they aren’t prepared to support such a large portion of their workforce being remote at one time. However, many organizations already have everything they need, they just need to activate it. Businesses should check with their sales representatives and review their service agreements before purchasing technology they might not need.

By making sure the right communication and collaboration tools are in place, small businesses can maintain business continuity while building a remote work culture that is not only productive, but also resilient.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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