Effective communication across organisations drives team productivity. And, today, there are a plethora of tools available on the market to support better team and customer communication – and experience. The array of options available includes email, project and task management tools, intranets, instant messaging chat functions, issue tracking and ticketing software, among others. Within this mix, however, there is one undervalued and overlooked communication tool that drives communication and productivity for many teams.
That is: the use of Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephones (DECT) – they are still as important today as when they came out years ago, before more “attractive” technologies emerged.
Most people would typically recognise a DECT as a “cordless phone” – the kind you’d often see in peoples’ homes or traditional office spaces. However, today’s modern IP DECT systems – as opposed to domestic DECT – can be used by multiple people (hundreds if necessary) operating across entire premises or sites.
Chris Potts (pictured), Marketing Director, ANT Telecom explains more and shares five ways that an IP DECT system can improve business operations…
General improvements throughout the business
IP DECT systems can be integral to mobile teams. They enable them to collaborate more easily, making them and their businesses more efficient and productive. DECT phones are used by all types of professional people: including office-based staff – such as IT teams that need to roam a site to support their colleagues, or workers that operate in sectors like hospitals, manufacturing and retail, where teams are predominantly more mobile than desk based staff.
Giving mobile teams the freedom to make and receive calls anywhere on site usually results in an increase in efficiency and productivity. Staff can respond more quickly and resolve problems on the spot first time round; without the need to make call backs, or find the nearest telephone after receiving a paging message, or hearing a tannoy announcement.
DECT phones can replace desktop phones for those people that don’t really need one or work alongside them. Features like “double call” or “twinning” make the DECT phone ring at the same time as desktop. This makes it easy to reach the intended person as the caller only has one number to try.
Improving Staff Protection and Lone Worker Safety
Working alone is quite common and can help businesses operate effectively especially when tasks don’t require two people – as twice as much can get done. Of course, where lone working does take place it is important that any activity is done safely and procedures must be implemented to train staff properly too. Further, when incidents or accidents happen in the workplace, colleagues are likely to see or hear something and immediately offer assistance, especially if it seems serious. However, that’s unlikely to be the case for lone workers as incidents would go unnoticed, and therefore puts them at greater risk.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that companies should implement processes to ensure lone workers are supervised regularly throughout the day. However, usually these methods become onerous and after a while the “checking in” becomes less frequent until it finally stops – leaving both the lone workers and business at risk.
The HSE also recommends using technology where appropriate. DECT handsets are a good way to protect lone workers. They provide them a way to call a colleague if they need help. SOS buttons can be integrated on the side of DECT handsets too. When activated, alerts are presented to a responder group as an emergency message, on their DECT phones, all at the same time ensuring a reaction. The name of the person that triggered the alert, their location and number appear in the message, making it really easy to contact or locate and support their colleague. Once the alarm is acknowledged and the response team updated, further escalation messages seize. DECT handsets can also come with tilt sensors that raise alarms automatically if a user is rendered unconscious and the handset tilts beyond a certain angle.
Improving Security and Site Access
Many industrial companies restrict access to their premises by installing security gates. However, manning these gates is expensive especially when footfall to a site is low.
Access control systems are often used as a cost-effective alternative, as these systems have control mechanisms that open doors and gates automatically with a code or card. However, effective as they are for employees, they can be a nuisance for visitors like delivery drivers that don’t have the code. Instead, visitors press a button on a gate panel to speak with an employee inside the premises to open the gate. However, if no one answers, which can often be the case, as the access phone is usually installed near an entrance door, where it is not easily accessible, the delivery driver has to wait until they give up and go onto the next job.
By integrating the DECT with a door entry system, or other access control systems, calls can be presented to the DECT handsets that workers carry with them at all times. Staff can speak directly to the visitor and open the gate, all from their DECT phone without leaving their spot.
Improving response and fix times to alarms, machine and equipment failures
Many industrial companies have automated facilities using machinery to manufacture their products. These processes are very smooth and often require very little manual input. However, when equipment and machinery fail, companies don’t have the same seamless procedures in place to notify the maintenance or engineering team, and cause unnecessary delays, bottlenecks, additional waste and higher production costs as a result.
Manufacturing companies use systems like SCADA and PLC to monitor specific conditions of all their machinery and equipment. When parameters have been met, these systems will signal a fault by displaying a red light by the machine itself or on the display monitor. However, to notice the alarm, operators have to be monitoring the screen itself or be by the machine, which isn’t always the case. When alarms are seen, operators then have to call members of the maintenance team to find someone that can manage the incident.
Alternatively, integrating a DECT system with a monitoring platform provides a far more robust and cost effective, automated method of managing machine alarms. Presenting alarms directly on the response teams’ DECT phones provides an immediate notification. Each member of the team is alerted simultaneously; acknowledging it updates the rest of team and prevents further escalation. Alert messages detail which machine has an issue, the type of fault and its location. When operators do eventually see the alarm information on their screen, they’ll see that it has been acknowledged and by whom, and know who to follow up with for further updates if required.
Improving Task Management with “Push to Talk (PTT)”
PTT stands for Push to Talk. This IP DECT feature provides an effective way for users to communicate with their team (or another) and to share information and distribute tasks. For example, in supermarkets it’s important to clean up spillages immediately, or warn people with a sign to prevent anyone from slipping and injuring themselves. In hotels, the concierge may need colleagues to come quickly to assist guests with their luggage. In both scenarios it’s helpful to communicate directly with the team responsible and hear an instant response.
With PTT users don’t need to ring a number or wait for a call to be answered, they simply push a button on their handset and talk. Their announcement is broadcasted to their group, who all hear it on their handset and can respond in a similar manner.
Over the years IP DECT systems have transformed communications and processes across multiple industries and organisations. They drive general communications within firms; improve security and safety; support with alert management and managing equipment fixes; and enable ad-hoc tasks to be managed across teams. Ultimately, among an array of perceivably more modern technologies, they have been forgotten along the way for their contribution to communications within organisations. Therefore, let’s not take for granted the impact that this technology has on productivity, especially when integrated with other systems. Perhaps now is the time to reconsider the important role these technologies play?