Remote work trend report: meetings
Designed to help business planning and innovation, this report from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index explores how people are learning to connect as a team.
Fingal County Council, like most public service organisations, was forced to find new solutions to maintain connection between its team of hundreds of employees, its community network, and the general public when the Covid-19 emergency shut down its offices in March 2020.
Fingal County Council is the third largest local authority in Ireland and serves a large swathe of county Dublin, it is approximately 450 square kilometres in size with 296,000 residents and 96,800 households. As well as providing vulnerable members of the community with much needed supports throughout the pandemic, there was also a need to continue providing critical services to the area – such as housing, roads and transportation, environment, parks, beaches, and planning. In fact, Fingal County Council currently provides 382 such services to citizens.
Prior to the pandemic, staff in the local authority relied on an on-premise telephony system – or desk-based landline telephones – in order to communicate with the public and with each other. Since March 2020, almost all employees have been working from home and so it has been difficult to scale their office-based telephony systems outside the building they usually work in.
According to Dominic Byrne, Assistant Head of Information Technology, Fingal County Council, the organisation currently has 814 users on the system whom are normally “geographically spread in offices across Fingal”, but that the majority are now working from home, including, 25 members of the Customer Contact Centre (Customer Service Unit).
To provide a rapid solution, MJ Flood Technology, Microsoft’s partner in Calling for Microsoft Teams Advanced Specialisation, developed and implemented an interim system for the entire organisation over one weekend.
Within four days, engineers from MJ Flood Technology had rolled out a Microsoft Teams Phone System to allow staff to contact each other and members of the public. They also then were tasked with establishing a contact centre, utilising the Enghouse Interactive Communications Centre solution which is integrated within Teams.
James Finglas, Managing Director of MJ Flood Technology, said that, “by reacting quickly, we showed the benefit of moving the communications straight to this platform. It has made a massive difference to how Fingal County Council can deal with the public”.
“It’s really flexible and scalable, it is very easy to deploy. This solution has served as a positive but complete disruptor or displacement of traditional telephony,” he added.
With many organisations likely to offer flexibility and hybrid work arrangements between the office and home, solutions like this are likely to become permanent pieces of IT infrastructure.
Microsoft’s Technical Specialist, Eoin Mulligan said: “Utilising the Teams Phone System, and then adding on solutions like the EngHouse product, allows organisations to not only have complete flexibility to be able to have a hybrid workforce, but to be able to deliver corporate telephony, regardless of location”.
While this solution was rapidly deployed for Fingal County Council in a matter of days, the local authority began their own digital journey a number of years ago when they started to investigate cloud-based solutions to enable the provision of digitalised services. But the speed and intensity of the public health crisis meant that the rollout of the council’s digital transformation was accelerated.
“Any phone system replacement is a project, so it does involve some time and planning,” Mulligan added. “But the organisations that have done so, have really called out the success of being able to deploy phone services wherever they want and having complete flexibility around it in terms of being able to manage it themselves and deploy different services and add-ons, such as the contact centre or call recording compliance solutions.”
For Fingal County Council, the introduction of this telephony solution has achieved two key requirements for their organisation:
Dominic Byrne from Fingal County Council said, “Whilst at least 90% of calls are completed with first call resolution through the Customer Contact Centre, the Teams Telephony architecture also incorporates 47 Call Queues to which the Customer Service Unit can channel customer queries related to the wide-ranging services that are provided by Fingal.”
Byrne continued, “The challenges and opportunities introduced by mobility and unlimited accessibility from any place, any device and multiple communication channels, was a major incentive for Fingal to implement a sustainable digital workplace within the organisation. In line with its digital roadmap, Fingal had already invested in Office 365 and deployed Teams for collaboration (such as meetings). In order to maximise its return on investment, the voice and telephony capabilities on the platform were selected as the natural digital tool of choice to improve the experience of those interacting with Fingal, by connecting the right people with the right information at the right time.”
Microsoft Teams has changed the way Fingal County Council worked as an organisation, it has streamlined their operations and will remain a major component of their infrastructure in the future.
If you would like to explore whether Microsoft Teams is the right solution for your modern workforce, request a workshop with M.J. Flood here.