By Grace Lau
The professional experiences of the last 19 months would have been much worse were it not for digitization. The transfer of some – if not all – of a company’s functions from manual analog systems to automatic, computerized processes has enabled us to keep the work world running whilst we were all under lockdown.
Everything from call forwarding to automated chatbots has come in really handy when managing a company’s workload. With the return to in-person working seeming closer now than at any point since the pandemic started, discussions are happening globally about what form the “new normal” for working will take. Some people are quite happy to remain working from home.
Those with large commutes, in particular, find the idea of their pre-Covid routine inconceivable now. Others who enjoy the social side of work, are itching to get back to the office. And then there are groups who are happy to do both, a hybrid of at-home and at-office work.
When it comes to communication, the logistical side of this discussion is almost null-and-void. The technology we have at our disposal allows us to fulfill our job requirements regardless of the option your company chooses.
These improvements to software don’t just affect how we do our jobs, most notable of which has been the switch to video conferencing – it’s through this element of digitalization that we’ll view the advantages it can afford both you and your business.
Through the rest of this article, we’ll take a look at what these benefits are, and how they can help your competitive advantage blossom.
1. Saves Costs
It’s not all about money – if there’s one lesson we’ve learned as a person or a business over the past 18 months or so, it’s exactly that. Welcome discussions around mental health, employee wellbeing, and social justice have all taken prominence for the last year and a half.
This doesn’t mean that your spending, in particular, is something that you can allow to fall by the wayside, though. And thankfully, the move to video conferencing, and digitalization more generally, is often a cost-saving exercise.
If you choose to work entirely remotely, it allows you to stop renting out expensive workspaces, usually in city centers. Even if you’re moving to a hybrid model, you can downscale the space that you need to rent. Or, you can book it on a less regular basis – such as a meeting room in a general workspace once a month, rather than renting an entire office block every day of the year.
Moving to video conferencing also makes trips to other offices, which you may have previously been subsidizing as a business expense, superfluous. Sure, you may want to think about taking the odd trip here or there for specific meetings or to simply to get out of the office; however, you don’t need to attend off-site meetings as before.
2. Improves Productivity
Making commutes a thing of the past gives people more time to do things outside of their work schedule. For example, if your commute was an hour-long, you’d often leave your home an hour and a half beforehand. And so, you’ve spent nearly two hours of your day doing nothing productive at all.
Eliminating this chore and allowing people the freedom to spend less of their time working makes their contracted hours more productive. Some studies have found that remote working increased productivity by 13%.
Leaning into the advantages of digitalization in the workplace reduces the amount of time spent being unproductive. Think of it in terms of call transferring. If you have agents constantly cold transferring their customers, far too much time is taken up by the customer having to explain time and again their issue. When agents warm transfer, this wasted time is cut out, meaning a solution is found in a more productive time.
It also affords people to rest more and to have more time to be inspired outside of work. This means that when they log on to a team meeting or discussion via video conferencing, they’re at their greatest level of performance.
It’s important to say at this point, that by “video conferencing”, we mean meetings that support audio and visual. Only having the latter makes communication impossible, and only having the former adds more chance of miscommunication.
When people can see and hear the people they’re connecting with, they’re less likely to misinterpret instructions or advice. Think about how much more likely you are to fully understand someone you can see as opposed to someone you’re just hearing a voicemail message from and you’ll get the idea.
3. Increases Efficiency
When discussing productivity, we’re mainly focusing on the output of your employees and colleagues. When we talk about digitalization making your business communications more efficient, we’re discussing everything outside of human workload.
The footprint that our operations leave on the ecological climate around us is more of a focus now than ever. Alongside other things, the re-naturing of several locations around the globe became a point of focus during the pandemic. When we aren’t there to live our lives, nature reclaims these ecosystems and the world is a much better place for it.
A company that reduces its impact on the world around it, by reducing power usage and waste, will earn itself a great reputation over the coming years as this debate grows increasingly important.
By digitizing your business communications, you automatically reduce the waste and power usage of your company. Going paperless, as one example, is a direct benefit of digitalization and one by which communications are uniquely positioned to be improved.
4. More Convenient
We’ve all been in meetings that seem to go on forever which, in reality, could have been covered in an email, right? They disrupt not only the time spent in the meeting, but the time going to and from it. If the meeting is completely unnecessary, they can disrupt workflow for the rest of the day as well.
So, an obvious way in which digitalization of business communications can help is by turning the meeting which could have been an email, into an email. Or, fax from computer. It also, if we look at this from the point of view of video conferencing, has a chance to offer assistance here too.
Rather than having to book meeting space for something that is relatively minor but nonetheless can’t be an email, you can just find a timeslot that day when everyone is available and hop on a quick video call.
When using a digitized version of business communications in this way, going back to the old method will soon feel outdated. If, since the invention of the smartphone, you’ve returned to your POTS lines, you’ll understand exactly what this feels like.
5. Better Accessibility
One of the main elements of the “returning to work” discussion has been hearing the thoughts and experiences of differently-abled employees. This is related to the positive difference that working from a space that is more attuned to their needs has had.
The knock-on benefits of this point are all the previous points again. Digitization of communications, as they relate to differently able employees, makes work more cost-effective, more productive, more efficient, and more convenient for them too. It’s a very rare case of being a real win-win for all involved.
6. Improves Training Goals
It isn’t just employees with different abilities that digitization improves the work experience for. New employees or those who need extra training can also benefit from digitization. This is dependent on how that particular person learns, as some will require in-person training to better understand new information.
However, for the majority of your workforce, holding training sessions over video conferencing is a benefit to both the trainer and trainee. In a lot of corporations, HR professionals can be based in a head office space where the employees they’re onboarding or training are elsewhere. Doing this digitally removes the need for time-consuming and expensive travel.
Also, on the trainee side, it allows someone to record a training session – with the trainer’s consent of course. This allows the trainee to refer to the session if they approach a hurdle later on. They can do this without having to track down the person who took the session in the first place.
Whilst we’ve spent most of this article looking at the digitalization of business communications through the lens of video conferencing, this isn’t where the benefits of digitalization end. As you can see across the points above, a lot of different elements go into the running of a business in a traditional, pre-pandemic way.
These were often costly, more inefficient, and occasionally neglected the needs of employees. By digitalizing your business communications, you’re able to secure these benefits for your business which, in turn, allows you to improve growth and build a competitive advantage over your rivals.
About the Author
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.