Do you suffer from “productivity sinkholes” when you’re trying to get work done? Scattered communication is perhaps the greatest threat to worker productivity facing businesses today. Finding and reaching people – as well as communicating and collaborating effectively — can be a daunting task requiring a myriad of tools and interfaces. According to a Fonality/Google Consumer Survey, productivity sinkholes waste valuable time and prevent workers from being as effective as possible. The survey found that respondents waste an average of more than two hours (2 hours 12.5 minutes) on tasks that negatively impact productivity, including trying to reach people who aren’t available, playing phone tag, or sending emails that go unanswered. As I addressed in a recent white paper about this, cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) can help workers become more productive by eliminating some of these communication challenges.

The Fonality survey (mentioned above) found that workers on average waste 36.8 minutes each day trying to contact customers, partners or colleagues, and waste an additional 27.7 minutes a day duplicating communications with multiple channels. Also, survey respondents spend an average of 12.9 minutes per day trying to schedule meetings with other people within the organization, while 47.8% of respondents spend 10 or more minutes, with 12.5% spending over one hour.

There’s got to be a better way! Cloud-based UC solutions can make workers more productive by eliminating or reducing that wasted time. For example, with UC’s presence capabilities on your desktop or mobile device, you can see whether or not someone is available for a phone call before you reach out to them, eliminating phone tag. From the UC user interface, you can click on a contact’s name and send a quick IM, and then escalate that chat session to a live voice or video call, and invite other people to participate and collaborate.

Companies that have implemented UC solutions have found enhanced employee productivity; improved customer service with higher customer loyalty and retention; faster problem resolution; better communication with partners, suppliers, and customers; shorter product development cycles; and faster time to market. And with cloud-based UC services, businesses can offload the deployment, management, maintenance, and support of complex and expensive UC solutions to the cloud provider.

Instead of wasting time trying to connect with people who may be in meetings, on the phone, or on a plane, UC users can quickly select the most effective and efficient means to initiate, receive, and respond to business communications.

The ability to click on a person’s name on a PC or mobile screen to connect, whether by IM or voice call, makes communication and collaboration significantly faster and easier.

Click to Dial lets users simply click on a name or telephone number to place a call or initiate an audio, web, or video conference. With the ability to share files during an audio, web, or videoconference, teams and workgroups can better work together as a distributed virtual team, efficiently communicating and sharing information.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. John needs information from Jane for an important customer deal. Instead of blindly calling Jane and ultimately reaching her voice mailbox, John can view Jane’s presence status from his UC client on his desktop or mobile device. He sees that Jane is in a meeting but available online and he sends her a quick instant messaging. Jane responds and tells John to contact Jim, the sales engineer. With one or two clicks, John sets up a video conference with Jim where they can see each other and also share screens. When John sees that Jane’s presence status changes to “available” after her meeting, he simply adds her to the video conference. John gets the information he needs quickly and easily, and resolves the customer’s issue in a timely manner. This makes the customer happy, John more productive, and his company more profitable.

Is your company wasting time in productivity sinkholes?