Remote working is a reality for many businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. People working from home have been using cloud-based apps to stay in touch with colleagues and customers, but to what effect? Many manufacturers supply these apps, but for this blog I am going to focus on Rainbow from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise to showcase how they are used.
As a business, we have worked with Alcatel-Lucent for more than 20 years. We have deployed their phone systems to business and organisations of all sizes, and latterly we have worked together to develop our own private data centre-hosted phone system as an alternative to traditional on-site models.
But we don’t just communicate via our phone systems. In our private lives, we use chat apps and video calling alongside email. We want to do the same when we are working. This is where unified communications apps have been developed to be integrated with our phone systems.
Unified communications or UC is simply using a blend of communications methods available to us in one app. Rainbow is a standout example of a UC app. It was created for business users to give them enhanced flexibility to work on the go, remotely or in the office.
We used Rainbow throughout lockdown and into the ‘new normal’ we now find ourselves immersed in. We use Rainbow to turn our mobile devices or PCs into desk phones. If an office-based colleague wants to call me at home, they simply select my extension on their handset, just as if I was still in the office, and they can call my mobile without incurring any cost. If fellow remote working colleagues wants to contact me, they can select my extension from the Rainbow app on their mobile or PC. We can view call, messaging and file sharing history for each contact too.
But it is the other communication methods that give UC apps their flexibility. On Rainbow, you can create bubbles (Alcatel-Lucent was using this term before it became associated with social groups during the pandemic) for up to 120 people for easy file sharing, chat and audio and/or video calls. These bubbles can be by department, project, working group, etc. You can use them on a one-to-one level too. Just as you would lean over and ask a colleague something in the office, you can send them a quick instant message instead. If you want to discuss a problem with a project, you can initiate a meeting with a few clicks or book a meeting for your relevant colleagues to attend via audio or video.
You can also view your colleagues’ availability to ascertain the best way to contact them. Rainbow is integrated with our office phone system, so I can see all my colleagues’ contact details in our office directory and if they are already on the phone, a red marker will indicate they are busy on an audio call. A green marker denotes they are available or online, a yellow ones means they are away from their desk and a red and white one means ‘Do not disturb’. You can then decide whether to use the chat facility in case they can respond while they are on the phone or to send an email or just wait until they are available.
Cloud-based communications apps like Rainbow ensure we all stay in touch even though we are current working from many different locations using a blend of devices. Distance between us does not mean decisions have to be delayed as collaboration is constant. Productivity has not been damaged by either lockdown or remote working. Apps like Rainbow are key for home workers and businesses that are willing to embrace a long-term remote working strategy.