Just before the UK stay at home orders went into effect, FourNet was running a pilot to see if its workforce could happily and productively work from home. It was testing the various remote collaboration tools available on the market and chose Avaya Spaces because of its advanced security protections and its ability to let users create and maintain individual spaces – or virtual meeting rooms – where they can invite colleagues, customers or teams for specific projects. When the stay at home guidance suddenly hit, no-one needed to return to their office as FourNet found it easy to immediately roll-out the Avaya Spaces app from the trial team to the entire company of 100 employees. Working remotely has suited the company so well that it won’t return to its previous, full office-based environment, which means it can save on the cost of its office expansion plans.
Testing work from anywhere options
For about a month before the UK was advised to remain at home, cloud and Managed Services Provider, FourNet, was already assessing various options to enable its workforce of 100 employees to work from anywhere. After testing various technology solutions, it found that some were consumer-grade tools that simply weren’t secure enough or were too unreliable when it came to availability for business use. Others required everyone to dial-in to participate in a meeting, which meant invitations containing the correct phone numbers needed to be sent out, and calls needed to be scheduled carefully to ensure no one else dialled-in by mistake. FourNet was looking for the simplest and most secure solution to enable its teams spread across London, Burton in the Midlands and its head office in Manchester, to easily collaborate with each other and their customers.
“A week before lockdown happened, we were running a pilot where we closed all our offices to do a proof of concept to ensure everyone could work from home if needed. It was during this time that we were assessing Avaya Spaces and there were certain features that made us think that it was the best solution for us. A week later we had lockdown forced upon us and all 100 employees made the move to Spaces. We found it easy to roll-out and it’s so simple and intuitive that we didn’t have to worry about not doing office-based training. Spaces has been very easy to adopt as it’s very user-friendly,” says Mike Jervis, CTO at FourNet.
FourNet had already scheduled its regular company update, where all its employees would gather in an exclusive venue to review performance and next steps. The stay at home guidance meant these plans had to be scrapped overnight but Avaya Spaces meant the gathering could still go ahead, albeit remotely.
“Things moved fast. Our resilience test happened on March 18, then no one came into the office from the 19. Less than ten days later, we were doing the company-wide update. We had just under 100 people on that company update call during the third official week of lockdown and it was pretty seamless,” remembers Jervis.
A space for everyone and everything
Having used Avaya Spaces as its video collaboration solution throughout the UK stay at home period, FourNet has several positive things to say about it. Top of the list – after its security and business-grade reliability – is its main feature: the ability for anyone to create a ‘persistent’ Space and use that Space for whatever they need on an ad hoc basis or for permanent, regular meetings.
Avaya Spaces, the all-in-one video collaboration app for the digital workplace, changes the way work gets done. It helps bring together distributed groups of people instantly with immersive work spaces where they can message, meet, share content and manage tasks from a browser or mobile device and provides an easy, secure and effective way to collaborate in the cloud.
“Some other collaboration tools provide a number of virtual rooms, but the difference with Spaces is that everyone has the ability to set up their own individual Spaces for anything they want, which is the equivalent of saying to colleagues or customers ‘meet me in the private meeting room I’ve set up just for the purpose.’ There’s no need to dial in, you simply click on the link and you arrive in the Space,” explains Jervis.
Everyone at FourNet has an individual Space where they can IM, chat and collaborate on work, but the company has also set up numerous dedicated Spaces for different groups. For example, there is one that is secure and PIN-protected for directors only and others that have been set up for specific team and customer meetings.
Unexpectedly, FourNet has found that now its workforce is working remotely, its staff are seeing more of each other’s faces than ever before. This is especially true for some of the technical support staff on the customer service desk who, because the company is cloud-based, have no need to physically go on customer site visits. Thanks to the video capability of Avaya Spaces, these colleagues are finding they can say hello, smile and connect with their customers from all over the world.
“Pleasingly, I have found that for my Spaces meetings, as opposed to my previous voice-only calls, 90% of the time people will be video-enabled. So now I am talking face-to-face with customers again,” said Jervis.
Customer experience while remaining at home
Avaya Spaces’ ability to create private virtual rooms has helped FourNet continue to deliver a high level of customer experience, even during the stay at home period. By setting up Avaya Spaces for customer meetings and naming them after a specific customer, FourNet has been able to extend a courtesy and a personalised experience so often missing when working remotely.
Previously, FourNet found that scheduling face-to-face customer meetings – as well as internal ones – was a challenge. But happily, the company is now finding that its customers are more willing to have a virtual presentation using Avaya Spaces, which is saving everyone travel time. In addition, FourNet has found it is doing more regular internal company updates than it used to, and everyone joins.
“We’re able to engage a lot more with people internally and externally because its far easier to get hold of them. If we do get to a new normal, we’ll try to keep these things in place as it’s easier to get together in a virtual Space than round everyone up for a physical meeting in the office,” says Jervis.
A changing future landscape
FourNet’s headquarters is in Manchester and the growing number of desks in the office was starting to make the company feel that it needed to expand into larger premises. The ability to work from anywhere using Avaya Spaces has led to that office relocation plan being taken off the table, with some considerable cost savings. Another area of cost – and time – savings thanks to successful remote working is travel, as many FourNet employees used to have to travel back and forth to London from Manchester or Bolton once or twice a week.
With the nature of work changing, Avaya Spaces enables a distributed workforce to still show up by allowing it to remain connected and continue to be productive and efficient from anywhere.
“There’s no point in bringing people back into the office and expanding the space since we can all can work efficiently from home. A lot of it is about trust and we’ve discovered that our people can be trusted to work remotely. You IM them to ask if they’re available for a call and get a response within 10 secs, which shows they’re there at their workstation getting on with things. From a time, efficiency, cost and environmental impact point of view, we’ve made a decision that we won’t go back to exactly what we had before,” concludes Mike Jervis.Click below to share this article