On this episode of the Zero Hour Podcast, our guest Irwin Lazar, Vice President & Service Director at Nemertes, discussed unified communications and collaboration (UCC), the tremendous global shift in working from home, and how companies are embracing new communications and collaboration systems. How have WFH protocols changed the role of collaboration platforms, and their centrality in the digital workspace?


Communication’s New Normal

“We published some data back in early April that showed that about 91% of companies now supported work-from-home. That was up from 63% prior to the pandemic”, Irwin explains. “On average, about 72% of employees are now working from home, which is more than double what it was.” 

According to Irwin, from what he has observed, different companies and clients can be mostly segregated into three different buckets. “The ones that are having the easiest time of it are ones that already supported work-from-home,” he points out. The second group, meanwhile, have thought about supporting WFH policies, but didn’t have the tools—video conferencing, team collaboration platforms and apps—in place. And the third group? 

“Then there is a group of companies that are really caught blindsided, operating in an environment where they can't have people working from home: defense-related or regulated industries that have contact center agents who can't function from home.”

The Value of Unified Communications and Collaboration

“We [Nemertes] published some data points earlier this year that show the companies that implemented team collaboration enterprise-wide had significantly higher return on investment in terms of gains in productivity and revenue savings and cost savings,” Irwin pointed out. “Only a few, about 25-30% of companies, viewed team collaboration that way. But those that do view it that way realize a significantly higher return on investment.”

However, Nemertes, a global research-based advisory and consulting firm that analyzes the business value of emerging technologies, now sees a change in digital workspace perspective post-COVID-19 breakout. “We see a lot of application integrations—everything from project management to real time communications as well. Finally, we're starting to see this change in view of team collaboration,” Irwin said.

The Benefits of Unified Communications and Collaboration

Irwin’s communications and collaboration system research divulges that for organizations to find success in working from home, they must institute the right culture for multi-hybrid environments. “For companies that are seeing measurable benefits in terms of productivity improvement, cost savings, revenue enhancements,” Irwin asks, “what are they doing differently from other companies?”

For Irwin, unified communications and collaboration solutions can help empower teams to operate swiftly and effectively. “Once people get comfortable using the team collaboration platforms, they’ll see the value in them,” he remarks. He believes it is an opportunity to cut costs and increase productivity for all kinds of organizations. 

Will Remote Solutions Replace the Office Setting?

Based on Nemertes research, the era of on-prem applications is rapidly ending, with the COVID-19 pandemic only speeding things up. “In 2018, it was about 12% of companies that had moved their calling platforms to the cloud,” Irwin remarks. “By 2019, that number grew to about 19%.” Finally, the data they published this year [2020] showed around 30%. Irwin said, “If you were thinking about moving to cloud, you want to be able to scale and support a distributed workforce.” 

Nevertheless, he doesn’t believe the digital workspace and unified communications and collaboration will completely replace office environments. “I think companies are really going to struggle to find the right balance, because for a lot of people it's difficult to be 100% full-time at home,” Irwin implies. “But it doesn't completely replace the benefit you get from getting people around conference room tables, and being able to share ideas, or work on projects, and so on. There’s also the building of the bond between people; making them feel like they're part of the organization, that their work is noticed, and that they get to know their coworkers.”

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