Four ways UC can keep your business moving during a natural disaster

Four ways UC can keep your business moving during a natural disaster
This article first appeared on Best in UC. Natural disasters have touched millions of Americans – and their businesses – this year. Tornadoes in the South. Flooding along the Eastern seaboard. Wildfires in Texas and the Southwest. The list goes on. Not to mention the other more isolated emergencies that can put a business back on its heels. These include local fires, isolated floods, electricity outages and the like. In all of these situations, unified communications (UC) can help. And in the more extreme cases such as widespread natural disaster, a strong UC strategy may be the only thing standing between a company and long-term financial pain. Here are just a few ways that UC can help your business stay up and running, no matter what external factors are at work:
  • A strong VoIP phone system offers built-in disaster recovery capabilities. For example, ShoreTel phone systems can be backed up by installing a single extra switch (known as N+1), which can replace any switch that fails across the entire network. In addition, while ShoreTel phones don’t require a server to be operational to function, they do rely on a “headquarters” server for more advanced features. This backup can exist on-site and/or at a different physical location, to get phones back up and running fast.
  • Many UC solutions now can be hosted or backed up in the cloud. This provides a failsafe, so that a disaster in your local area doesn’t take down your phone systems and data access for the long term.
  • Mobility solutions, when combined with traditional communications solutions, make it possible for workers to access their voicemail, email, and other critical data, as long as the server remains operational. For example, when flooding or wildfires keep employees away from the office because of transportation safety issues, they can still be productive at home.
  • Video conferencing strategies help companies reduce travel budget and hassles, stay better connected to customers, build stronger teams across diverse geographic areas, and more. In times of disaster, video conferencing creates a way for team members to communicate face-to-face and create a plan of action.
But just because these tools are available as part of your UC suite, that doesn’t guarantee success in times of challenge. Why? Some employees simply aren’t accustomed to working remotely, when they must rely on a VoIP softphone, mobile phone, web-based email, remote video conferencing and other tools. What’s the answer? Simple. Create an opportunity for your team members to learn how to work remotely. About once per month, require a team in your office to work from home for a day. Ensure they can access the information they need, make and receive phone calls, interact by instant messenger, and sign on to a video conference. When necessary, don’t be afraid to rely on consumer-based solutions such as Skype to get everyone on board. Preparing for a disaster may seem like an inconvenience. But keeping your business open and profitable during tough times is priceless.

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