The face of the workplace has changed dramatically over the last decade. The traditional definition of the workplace, at a desk from nine to five, at a desk, is now the exception rather than the norm.

Diversity has replaced uniformity. Today’s workforce is made up of many different generations, it is mobile, global and flexible, and all workplaces are interconnected, innovative and dynamic.

The new workplace and people operating in it are driving a future of ‘the office’ that is more engaged, more customer driven, and more dependent on optimised processes. With all of this change happening across every industry and type of business, organisations have a choice – to resist or embrace it.

Achieving the work and life balance that today’s employees demand means adopting flexible work solutions that are enabled by unified communications (UC). These solutions give employees the flexibility to work when and where they can do so most effectively, so they can focus their efforts on offering an outstanding customer experience.

Today’s customers are far better informed than yesterday’s. Their expectations are much higher. They are more aware and more knowledgeable. They know what they want, and if your business can’t give it to them instantly, they will go elsewhere. They insist on access and expertise, irrespective of where they are located.

With flexible working enabled by UC in the office and on the go, businesses can manage the challenges that arise from a changing workforce and workplace, as well as soaring customer expectations by enabling their staff to finish simple tasks more quickly and efficiently, removing any duplication of effort across the business.

In addition, it eliminates communication barriers between mobile and office workers, allowing staff to be more responsive and offer an excellent and unchanging customer experience irrespective of location or the device they are working on – everywhere they are. It also helps save money by allowing IT to streamline network, management and maintenance.

Today’s workers have grown up with technology. It runs their personal lives, and they demand the same levels of immediacy, access and collaboration in their workplaces. UC also empowers staff to work in a way that suits them, which in turn boosts their overall engagement with a better work and life balance.

UC solutions connect employees and work groups through presence, instant messaging, desktop sharing and collaboration, effortless voice and online conferencing, and e-mail. In this way, employees are immediately “available” to their co-workers as soon as they log on, irrespective of geographic location.

This style of working has instant appeal for today’s younger, socially connected workers who are looking for innovative companies to work for, who can offer them instant communication and collaboration. For those who prefer to stay closer to home, and are more family-oriented it works too, as UC brings benefits such as flexible working hours, and the ability to work from the office or from home.

There is no doubt that UCs have resulted in increased collaboration and productivity, as well as reduced time wastage and travel expenditure. These are gains which are distinctly measurable. However, although this may not be as measurable a benefit, it offers a better work-life balance for staff. Boosting the workforce’s mobility enables departments to become increasingly flexible in the way, and timeframe, in which employees accomplish tasks.