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A unified communications solution provides the tools to work from anywhere on any device

Whether telecommuting is a privilege for your employees or a necessity for your small business, chances are good that at least a couple people in your company work from home or while on the road. Many small companies enable telecommuting via a virtual private network (VPN), which is a good first step in giving employees remote access to business resources on your network. But for folks to be as productive away from the office as they are in the office, they need additional collaboration tools provided by unified communications (UC). If you’ve built the right network for your business—one that supports your existing needs and future applications—you can more easily add UC to further untether your mobile employees.

Every UC solution is different because it’s tailored to fit a business’s specific needs. UC integrates various communication applications, including voice and voicemail, email, instant messaging, and web conferencing, on one network and provides users with a single interface for accessing these applications. Your unified communications solution might be as simple as a universal inbox for voicemail and email messages or could include a range of applications from an integrated inbox to presence and video conferencing. Regardless of the components you choose, a UC solution will help employees be more productive, collaborate more effectively, and communicate more easily.

UC and telecommuting—a perfect match

UC is tailor-made to both untether mobile employees and unite them with their colleagues. Unified communications enables flexible and seamless communications from any device, so employees can work more effectively from any location while still being as reachable as any employee in the office.

With a UC solution, remote workers can use presence technologies to see who is available online and easily initiate a chat for a quick Q&A via instant messaging, for example. With click-to-call features, mobile workers can move that chat to a voice call or a web conference if more people need to be pulled into the conversation. Essentially, UC gives remote employees the same kind of access to their colleagues as they have when working in the office.

One device convenience

Unified communications makes it easier to work remotely in many ways. One of the features that truly liberates mobile workers is single-number reach. With a UC solution like Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business or Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 5000 and 6000, employees can have one phone number that rings at their desk phones in the office and on their mobile phones, ensuring they never miss a call.  Single-number reach offers a range of benefits that provide flexibility and improve productivity, such as transferring a live call from a desktop phone to a mobile phone and a single voicemail box.

Choosing a UC solution can be tricky. This post offers three tips for finding the best solution to fit your small business.

What tools do your mobile workers find most useful?

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