Entrepreneurs

Unified Office Suites Drive Context, Continuity, Consistency, and Collaboration for Small Businesses

It’s not an uncommon occurrence these days: A ping is sent to an employee via a standalone chat app about a project created using a different vendor’s tool for which the relevant file is housed within a separate data storage system.

According to data collected in late 2021 by Reclaim.AI, the number of meetings is up 70% since the start of the pandemic. With businesses using such a vast array of third-party software to operate, it’s no wonder messages and documents fall through the cracks. It’s impossible to collaborate as a team when so many of those team members are simply trying to play catch-up to find the right piece of information across multiple siloed systems.

Unified office suites of workplace applications, with an emphasis on functionality for online team collaboration, ensure all employees remain on the same page through seamless communication and consistent, universal access to data.

Benefits of Unified Office Suites

Eliminating Silos

Basketball players can’t operate as a team if each of the players is working out of their own playbook or unable to hear what their coach is shouting from the sidelines. In the same way, a company’s employees are going to be sacrificing collaboration if they are not able to easily communicate with one another or ensure they are looking at the correct, most up-to-date version of a spreadsheet.

Consolidating disparate systems, especially when they are fundamentally different from one another, is an arduous task and costs businesses hours of productivity, not to mention multiple pricey licensing fees. But a unified suite of apps ensures that one update to the system in a single location will proliferate to the rest of the organization.

Zoho Workplace serves as a prime example of how unification leads to seamless online team collaboration. It ensures everyone has access to each file, entry, and piece of information put into the system—no matter where they are located and no matter where the data was entered. The suite includes email, filing, document, chat, and social capabilities all within a single platform.

The ultimate time-saver comes in the form of what companies are no longer required to do: scour internal systems for the right piece of information. All facets of Zoho Workplace and other unified applications are accessible via a central dashboard that can be customized by each employee by simply dragging and dropping widgets. Plus, the platform features unified search—no need for the painstaking process of combing app-after-app looking for the most accurate information. Emails about a project can be found from this dashboard just as easily as tasks or calendar items.

Better Customer and Employee Communication

By consolidating everything under one banner in unified office suites, companies are taking proactive steps to ensure tighter communication while allowing employees to maintain access to everything they need to do their jobs—and, if not, procuring access can be done from within the same application.

Unified office suites also do wonders for customer service. Data abounds these days, and small businesses hoping to leverage these figures to improve their customer experiences would be wise to ensure that data is accessible and available to be updated, no matter where their employee is located. This practice also eliminates any unnecessary communication—the last thing customers want is to be contacted multiple times by different team members, or be forced to sign the same terms and conditions twice due to redundancy and overlap in employee responsibilities.

Consider how the apps are united, as well. For example, by operating within Zoho Writer, employees can tag others in comments, triggering an email alert as a reminder and including a link directly to the document. This works wonders for flagging important information that needs to be disseminated ASAP; navigating to a different app, particularly one with a nonintuitive interface, opens the process up for errors.

Enabling Remote Work

Zoho believes in a mindset we call “transnational localism,” which entails a focus on supporting local communities and hiring candidates from small towns over large cities—a practice that can unknowingly skew the applicant pool towards a wealthier class of individuals who can afford to live comfortably in a metropolis, or at least commute to one.

An important facet of transnational localism is an emphasis on smaller, more localized offices that serve as spokes to a big city hub. This not only saves employees time normally spent on an extensive commute but affords distant employees a hybrid work model and sense of community.

Regardless of where employees choose to work, it’s important they maintain access to the same breadth of tools available to those who travel to an office each day—especially on mobile. A unified system operates entirely out of the cloud, boasting full functionality from any conceivable location.

A unified work environment goes a long way to right the wrongs wrought by the pandemic: Data collected by Project.co within the first year found that 26% of surveyed participants claimed communication, both internally and with customers, deteriorated over 2021.

Unified office suites may not be a silver bullet to pre-pandemic efficiency and collaboration, but are a critical step, particularly for small businesses. A unified office suite, wherein all the tools are tightly integrated, delivers simplicity, power, and affordability—all critical concerns for businesses moving forward.


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