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How communication technologies can help businesses support a good work/life balance among remote workers

A recent survey by the World Economic Forum revealed that two-thirds of people want to work flexibly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over. But just how flexible are employees feeling? It’s no secret that the abundance of communication technology adopted during the pandemic has kept teams collaborating, but many report that the boundaries between work and life have become blurred. Here Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of business IoT solutions provider Crystaline, looks at how technology can help to redefine boundaries and establish a healthy work-life balance as businesses adapt to newer ways of working.

For some, flexible working has enabled a better balance between work and home life. Without long commutes and cross-country travels to make in-person meetings, workers are able to make the school run, spend time with their spouses and dedicate more time to their personal lives. For others, however, flexible working has made it difficult to switch off.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that people who completed any work from home did six hours of unpaid overtime on average per week in 2020, compared with 3.6 hours for those that never work from home. Communication technology has been a life blood for companies over the past 18 months, but could it now be the key to alleviating the “always-on” pressure?

Smarter smartphones

According to a survey by Wildgoose, a teambuilding activity company, 55 per cent of employees agree that their employer should keep communication and work expectations within working hours to alleviate stress.

Smartphone software could help employees better separate their work and personal commitments. Apple’s latest IOS update features a ‘focus mode’. Similar to its long-standing ‘do not disturb’ mode, focus mode allows users to select which type of notifications they receive and when. Employees are then able to set work alerts to only come through during the workday. They can then disable these notifications after hours, to prevent feeling ‘always on’.

Most smartphones also offer an integrated feature or app that allows users to track their phone usage. By monitoring how long is spent on certain applications, such as work emails or video conferencing apps, users can assess how their personal time is being spent and act accordingly. It’s often the little things that add up — several minutes spent answering emails every evening can amount to hours over the course of a month, so monitoring usage can help to take back control of personal time.

SIP trunking for flexibility

Another way employers can support a better work-life balance is to allow greater flexibility. This could mean more flexible working hours, or the ability to work wherever suits the employee.

A technology that supports this is Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP trunking, which allows voice information to be sent digitally over the same networks used for broadband. This method of receiving and making calls makes flexible working easier and as such helps to establish that important work-life balance.

SIP trunking provides a scalable, secure protocol for voice communications, which is one of the reasons why many of the best Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers favour the technology. SIP trunks replace the copper wire that physically connects machines on a traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN), providing the means for companies to send voice information over the Internet, both internally and externally.

In addition, SIP trunks can carry text messages, emails and even Internet access, and are often employed in unified communications (UC). Crystaline SIP trunks connect a company’s Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to Crystaline’s network, so that connection from the premise to our network is via an IP connection and is delivered as an end-to-end service.

Crystaline SIP trunks are cheaper and quicker to install than traditional landlines, and there is no limit on the number of channels that can be supported — meaning teams can enjoy the benefits of a UC system wherever they choose to work.

To successfully enable remote working, business owners need to establish the correct work-life balance. Having technology at their fingertips at all times can make it difficult for employees to switch off from work duties. In addition to thinking about how technology can make work life easier, employers should also evaluate how it can help employees reap the full benefits of flexible working, without suffering from burnout.

To learn more about Crystaline’s services, visit the website at www.crystaline.uk

 

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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