Top 5 UCaaS Tools for Small Businesses With Remote Workers
This article is part of a larger series on Unified Communications.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solutions provide remote workers with essential tools, creating a productive and flexible work environment. UCaaS tools like conversational channels and meeting recording allow users to stay on top of team activities, while file sharing and integrations keep company data accessible across all tools in real time. In this article, we explore how to implement unified communications tools to benefit your remote workforce.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one communication tool that supports a robust remote work strategy, RingCentral is your best option. Known as a leading business phone system, RingCentral also comes with video conferencing, task management, and over 300 integrations.
UCaaS Tools Needed for Small Business
1. User Presence
One of the challenges of managing a remote workforce is you cannot simply walk to their desk and see if they’re available. User presence supplements the lack of physical presence by allowing users to track the availability of their colleagues. It is usually broken down into six categories: available, away, busy, do not disturb, offline, and be right back.
Setting your user presence creates a transparent work environment by allowing others to see your current status. This makes it easier for teams to collaborate and allows managers to track employee productivity and downtime. Other UCaaS platforms automatically update your status as “away” when it detects the system is idle or enters sleep mode. Presence can even show when employees are taking time off.
2. Meeting Recording
Gathering team members for a virtual meeting is extremely difficult if there are differences in schedules, shifts, and time zones. Fortunately, meeting recording provides remote workers the flexibility to catch up with team conversations in their own time. It also allows users to review everything said in the meeting and archive discussions for future reference.
Meeting recording comes in two forms:
- Local recording: This saves your meetings to a local drive (such as your computer) or server. In some cases, this is offered with the free software version since you won’t be using up a provider’s cloud storage. After downloading to your device or local server, the files can be uploaded to cloud-based solutions, like Dropbox, Google Drive, or even YouTube, making them easy to share with your remote workers.
- Cloud-based recording: Cloud recording is usually locked behind a UCaaS provider’s paid plans. This type of meeting recording is easily shared since the provider grants a link that users can click on to view recorded meeting content from any browser. Additional purchase is required for a larger storage limit in terms of size and number of days.
If you aren’t sure how to take advantage of this feature, check out our article on how to record and share online meetings.
3. Conversation Channels
Conversation channels are dedicated spaces for distributed teams to communicate on a specific topic or project. It gives way to more asynchronous communication, which is critical in remote work, where conversations don’t always happen in real time. It has the record-keeping features of email but in a more organized manager.
Channels serve as a one-stop shop for teams to make announcements, share files, collaborate with external partners, or hop on a quick conference call. If you need to review decisions that were made about a particular task, they will be available in the channel message history. Providers like Microsoft Teams and Slack provide both public and private channels that allow you to decide the level of transparency needed for the workspace.
4. File Sharing & Storage
When teams go remote, members must have access to company files. Files that need to be shared with remote workers may include images, documents, meeting recordings, and video presentations. File sharing via UCaaS technology allows you to decide whether uploading from local sources is permitted for remote workers who need to upload presentations, signed contracts, proposals, and documents.
5. Third-party Integrations
Third-party integrations are critical tools for remote teams that use multiple applications to perform various tasks and business processes. It lets you add features and tools to your communications platform to enhance its function and reduce the need for app switching.
For instance, customer relationship management (CRM) integration connects your CRM with your unified communications platform. Since the data from your CRM will appear in your UCaaS software, agents will have access to all customer information before making or receiving customer service calls. Aside from CRM systems, UCaaS providers integrate with other business tools, such as project management, workflow automation, and ecommerce.
Top UCaaS Solutions for Remote Working
UCaaS technology has come a long way, and remote workers can expect more from providers and their solutions. Click on each tab below to discover what each top UCaaS provider has to offer to your remote workforce.
RingCentral is a robust unified communications platform that supports voice calling, video conferencing, and team messaging. Even when remote, RingCentral lets you get teammates and locations set up in minutes and customize your phone system for call flows, greetings, and voicemail. It integrates with over 300 business applications, making it easy for your employees to work across other software without leaving the RingCentral app.
Learn more in our RingCentral review and discover what makes it one of the leading UCaaS providers.
Nextiva is a cloud-based platform that allows users to manage calls, voicemails, texts, and virtual meetings across devices. All plans include toll-free minutes, unlimited calling, team messaging, and video meeting recordings. Its main highlight is the NextivaONE platform that combines team and customer conversations in one place. Its team collaboration app called, CoSpace, enables remote teams to make audio/video calls, store files, and assign tasks.
Find out why this provider is among the most comprehensive UCaaS systems in our Nextiva review.
8×8 is a unified communications solution that combines cloud phone, video collaboration, team chat, contact center, and analytics. Unlike RingCentral and Nextiva, 8×8 has the highest participant capacity, with up to 500 attendees. It is protected by the highest levels of security and compliance, giving you peace of mind that your company information stays safe. 8×8 has mix-and-match plans to help you create a solution that best meets your unique requirements.
Check out our 8×8 review to learn more about its features and pricing.
Which UCaaS provider is right for you?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between ‘busy’ & ‘do not disturb’ status?
While both convey to other users that you’re engaged, only the “do not disturb” status will halt incoming notifications. If your status is set to “busy,” you’ll still receive notifications. Once you’re ready to be reachable again, you’ll receive notifications that weren’t sent while the “do not disturb” status was active.
Are communication tools for remote workers available on mobile devices?
For the most part, unified communication tools are accessible from mobile devices. Many are native to UCaaS providers’ mobile apps. For example, Nextiva lets you access user presence under their “Team Presence” menu as well as team chat, file sharing, and conversation channels.
Are the recordings I make with my UCaaS provider HIPAA-compliant?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) states that all recorded conversations with patients must be protected. The degree to which the provider protects recorded data varies across providers. We have a list of HIPAA-compliant video conferencing solutions to help you find the one that best fits your needs.
Businesses with remote employees or fully distributed teams need underlying technology to manage work processes and support collaboration and communication. Fortunately, UCaaS tools facilitate these essential business needs. They also add efficiency, increase productivity, and are very easy to implement into everyday business.