As digital processes become essential for day-to-day operations, businesses are starting to embrace new business models made possible by sophisticated technology.
In today’s environment of rapid change, remote workers play a critical role in the push for these changes, and businesses are learning to grow out of the traditional office-centric standards. Last year, the number of workers telecommuting rose to 37 per cent, and that number continues to grow as more employers tap into the flexibility and productivity benefits of remote workforces.
With the rise of remote workers, businesses must find solutions to new employee communication challenges.The web as we know it was not designed with the voice and video needs of today’s businesses in mind. Remote workers are casualties of this fact. Adding to the challenge, Internet Service Providers, (ISPs) haven't uniformly invested in the robust yet costly infrastructure necessary to ensure high fidelity voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls.
In search of a solution to subpar VoIP performance, many companies are laying blame at the feet of their Unified Communications (UC) providers. Cloud-based UC services can offer a consistent and responsive user experience across multiple devices, enabling employees across the country to seamlessly work and collaborate as needed across multiple devices. In many cases, the quality of this experience, is highly dependent on the Internet connectivity of the end user. When paired with a slow, unreliable Internet connection, even the best tools can limit a teleworker’s productivity.
Facing mounting pressure from their clients to provide consistent call quality in all environments, UC providers need new solutions. The primary differences between UC providers’ approaches lie in back-end infrastructure. Decisions around back-end infrastructures dramatically impact the end user’s experience. As UC providers scout for more reliable alternatives, purpose-built infrastructure is beginning to play a leading role in defining the future of the teleworker.
New technology and legacy infrastructure
While many firms are making changes to accommodate their remote workers, teleworkers often struggle with unique communication challenges. Remote workers often contend with poor call quality and a highly fragmented user experience. Frequent notable delays in voice transmission lead to constant interruptions and crosstalk. In some circumstances, calls are dropped completely.
Traditionally, businesses could rely on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), or a competing protocol to ensure reliable and high fidelity communications. Unfortunately, MPLS-capable infrastructures are expensive for both the customer and provider, as it requires a dedicated circuit to be provided by the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC). These circuits can take weeks, or even months, to provision or reconfigure. The high expense and hefty support staff required to maintain these networks limit the reach of this approach to headquarters or large branch offices, leaving plenty of organisations vulnerable to poor quality communication between teleworkers.
New networks built with the internet’s limitations in mind
Businesses can’t afford constant disruptions to their internal or external communications, and foregoing the benefits of a mobile and remote workforce isn’t realistic for many organisations. Firms are putting pressure on their UC service providers to resolve longstanding quality issues, and these providers are increasingly seeking new solutions to reduce the network latency, jitter and packet loss, all contributing to poor call quality.
Most UC providers route calls over the public Internet, which can be cost effective but often compromises call quality. Internet traffic takes the most cost-effective path instead of the most efficient, resulting in sub-optimal routing. Real-time voice communication is particularly vulnerable to poor network performance. While you can wait for a video to buffer, delays in transmitting or receiving real-time voice data can easily break down the flow of a call. To meet the needs of remote workers and their employers, UC providers must look to their own partners’ infrastructure.
Increasingly, UC providers are turning to purpose-built infrastructures to improve their service quality. Most VoIP providers today are not true providers; they’re VoIP resellers who rely on another company’s infrastructure or resources, often connecting with them on the same public Internet connection that they use to connect to their customers.
But new business demands are making resellers an unsuitable option, despite the fact that they once offered UC providers an affordable and reliable solution.
The infrastructure for the remote workforce
Purpose-built infrastructure leveraging technologies such as MPLS-TE and Anycast, along with a dedicated fiber backbone, can provide the speed, reliability and interoperability remote workers and their UC providers require.
Optimised traffic routing, better integration with UC platforms, and end-to-end VoIP support can make a remarkable difference in call quality, particularly for a decentralised workforce. Businesses have long recognised the need for enterprise-grade communication infrastructure between offices, and the rise of the teleworker demands that businesses and UC providers offer the same level of support to their off-site employees.
As more remote employees join the workforce, teleworkers continue to play an important role in their organisations, easily accessible, more integrated, and highly reliable real-time communication that’s easily accessible, highly reliable and more integrated will become central to a business’ success. UC providers face mounting pressure to improve call quality in distributed environments; leveraging a purpose-built infrastructure is critical to addressing this concern.
With the right UC provider and underlying network, the highly productive workflow possible in a physical office can remain largely unchanged even with a growing remote workforce. Remote workers are only truly untethered from the office when they can expect the same call quality no matter their location, taking advantage of enterprise-grade communications infrastructure no matter their distance from corporate HQ.
As employees push for greater workplace flexibility and businesses seek to remain agile, private communication networks are key for an effective global workforce.
Ian Reither and David Casem, COO and CEO of Telnyx
Image source: Shutterstock/Undrey