As a return to office slowly becomes more viable, enterprises must prepare for the next normal of work life: hybrid work. One of the many legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a broad swath of full-time and part-time employees who will continue to work from home — or anywhere, be it a coffee shop, hotel, or client location — either part or all the time.
In fact, Gartner expects the share of knowledge workers working remotely at least one day a week to increase from 27% in 2019 to 45% in 2022. These remote workers will continue to need work from home IT support, including guidance on how to optimize the quality of their unified communications (UC) and collaboration experiences.
Providing support for employees working from home has already been difficult for IT teams over the past year. Helping these workers while also being expected to assist employees working in the office will be even more challenging. It’s imperative that IT has proper tools in place to support a fully hybrid work scenario. Employees must be productive and engaged no matter where they’re located, and IT can’t afford to become overwhelmed trying to support multiple work models.
In this blog, we’ll cover the primary work from home scenarios where software tools can provide continuous assistance and UC platform monitoring software features that can support work from home. We’ll then review several case studies of how this type of software helped resolve poor call quality issues in a work from home environment.
How UC Monitoring Software Can Provide Work from Home IT Support
UC monitoring software has been a valuable tool for IT teams for years. However, increasing work from home rates have highlighted two key recurring scenarios where additional focus is needed.
In the past, when all or most employees came to an office to complete their work, IT and network teams primarily only needed to worry about in-office connectivity quality. But now, with a majority of employees working from home at least part of the time, internet connections can be less reliable — and almost impossible for IT to manage.
A limited number of UC monitoring software solutions help make supporting remote users more realistic for IT by identifying which ISPs perform the best (and worst!) in any given location based on call quality. When an end user experiences call quality issues, IT can use monitoring software to check if other users in their area are using the same ISP. If so, IT can then find out if they are also experiencing quality issues. If they are, it’s possible it is a widespread issue caused by the ISP. If they aren’t, there’s a good chance the original end user may have misconfigured their network or is experiencing another issue specific to their set up.
Every enterprise has a list of VIP employees that need to receive support around their UC and collaboration experiences. The VIP list includes C-suite executives and their assistants, as well as customer-facing employees that need to present the company in the best light possible. Ensuring these VIPs consistently experience high quality calls when working from home is crucial.
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One way to do this is by monitoring their call quality on an on-going basis. An innovative UC monitoring software approach allows IT to create a list of VIPs and see the quality of their calls, which ISP they are using, and their location. This information can then be used to initiate proactive outreach to the VIPs and quick troubleshooting when issues do arise.
UC Monitoring Features for Work from Home IT Support
UC monitoring software has been around for years, and there are many existing features that can be used to support both work from the office and work from home. Over the past year, new features have also arrived on the scene to support this rapidly growing model of work.
Some reports or views that support work from home to look for in a UC monitoring tool include:
- City + ISP Profile: This shows the overall performance of an ISP by city. Depending on the size of the city and number of users located there, IT may be able to drill down into ISP performance in specific areas of the city.
- Top ISPs by City: Understanding the best performing ISPs in each city can be helpful if IT needs to recommend ISP options to their users. This view shows the best (and worst) ISPs by city.
- Top Users with a Good/Bad Call Experience: If the same end users consistently experience poor call quality, it’s probably time for IT to reach out to them — but first they need to know who these users are. This report allows IT to see who is consistently experiencing poor call quality so they can prioritize helping them. On the flipside, IT can also see who consistently experiences high-quality calls, which can be helpful for troubleshooting and champion programs.
- Call Quality from Office Locations Versus Home Locations: As we make the shift to hybrid work, many remote employees will interact with their colleagues in the office via UC calls. Because of this, it’s important for IT to ensure that both home locations and office locations are experiencing good call quality. This view surfaces insights so IT can determine where to focus their attention first.
- Consumer VPN Identification: Consumer VPNs can significantly reduce call quality but can also be difficult for IT to identify during troubleshooting. By identifying calls that are coming from these services or abnormal locations, this view can help IT recognize and remediate issues stemming from consumer VPNs.
- Mobile Carrier Identification: Whether taking Microsoft Teams or Zoom calls through a mobile phone or connecting to a mobile hotspot on their work computer, end users can experience increased call quality issues when using a mobile carrier. This report identifies users that use a mobile carrier for their calls, which allows IT to proactively reach out to suggest connecting over Wi-Fi instead.
- 5 GHz Versus 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi Performance: Most users have both a 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz network set up for their home but may not realize which is the most optimal to use for their home office. This view shows IT which users are participating in calls from a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection and can be helpful for troubleshooting.
- UC Platform Performance Comparison: Because each UC platform is designed differently, some perform better in certain geographical locations than others. With a UC platform performance comparison report, IT can see which UC platforms perform the best on a country, state, city, or ISP level. This can be helpful for troubleshooting and if trying to determine if an entire office or country should switch to a single platform.
Next, let’s take a look at how some IT teams have used these reports and views to help resolve different poor call quality issues.
Case Studies: Supporting Work from Home with UC Monitoring Software
While the full magnitude of the need for work from home IT support is just coming to light, some companies have already been experimenting with tools for this new reality. During the pandemic, we’ve helped a number of customers use our UC monitoring software, PowerSuite, to identify and remediate call quality issues stemming from work from home.
One of the primary benefits of using PowerSuite to support work from home is the ability to draw on a huge amount of data. Because PowerSuite monitors billions of calls per month in different cities, using different ISPs, and conducted on multiple UC platforms, the sample set of data is much larger than a single company would have to work with on their own. This crowdsourcing of data makes it possible to create truly meaningful benchmarks.
Over the past year, we’ve introduced innovative new features into PowerSuite that draw on this crowdsourced data to specifically help support work from home.
Resolving City-Specific ISP Performance Issues
Problem: A customer wanted to understand why large pockets of home-based users reported dissatisfaction with the quality of their calls.
Solution: The customer was able to use PowerSuite to determine that these users were located in one particular area and using one specific ISP. Once this was identified, IT was able to request assistance from the ISP with the issues their users were experiencing. They also had the option to recommend better performing ISPs to their employees.
Identifying a Misconfigured Network Proxy
Problem: A customer experienced a high number of poor call quality issues and struggled to determine the root cause.
Solution: Using our PowerSuite software, the customer determined the poor call quality issues were primarily occurring in Chicago, IL and Houston, TX — but they didn’t have many employees in those two cities. The IT team immediately identified that those calls were going through their hosted network proxy service, which had been misconfigured to allow media traffic to be proxied. After reconfiguring the proxy, poor call quality was reduced by nearly eight percent.
Supporting a Positive Work from Home Experience for VIPs
Problem: A customer wanted to initiate proactive outreach to VIPs that experienced poor call quality.
Solution: The customer was able to create a list of VIPs to track in PowerSuite, which allowed them to see which VIPs were experiencing poor call quality and which ISP they were using for the call. Additionally, because PowerSuite collects anonymized data from all calls made by any Unify Square customer, the software is able to automatically compare the experiences of their VIPs against all users in the area with the same ISP. PowerSuite’s technology increases IT efficiencies by highlighting users whose experience differs — pointing out poor internet connections or identifying where the ISP may not be the issue at all. Using the PowerSuite data, IT was able to proactively contact their VIPs experiencing issues and recommended switching ISPs or reconfiguring their home modems and routers.
As we continue long-term work from home and head into the reality of hybrid work, cases like these will likely increase. Stay one step ahead of system and user issues with actionable insights from PowerSuite, allowing for smart and quick remediation.