Conference Calls – Save Time and Money, and Get What You Want!

April 4, 2014 by Harry Price No Comments »

call-meThe mere mention of the word ‘meeting’ can make you let out a little inner groan. All that time spent sitting around tables discussing and debating things is frustrating and often a little bit pointless.

Unless the meeting is properly chaired and there’s a dedicated agenda and minutes, it’s just seen as a waste of time by many members of staff. Workplaces are stressful places to be in and it’s in no small measure to do with meetings. They have a habit of using up precious time with delegates leaving the room feeling no more clued up than when they arrived. Meetings are a drain on a company’s finances: expensive catering needs to be supplied and everyone’s travel expenses taken care of.

However, meetings do have their benefits. Organised properly they can focus people’s thinking, and there’s definitely a lot to be gained from getting a collective opinion on company strategy. There’s no getting away from it – meetings need to take place. There’s no valid reason however, for them requiring everyone to meet at the same venue. The obvious solution is to set up telephone or video conference calls, and here’s why:

What Is a Conference Call?

A conference call is a meeting that takes place over the phone using a dedicated conference App. This allows multiple people to dial in, listen and take part in conversations. It’s a great way for everybody to take part in the meeting without having to get to the same place. Whether they’re on the train using a Bluetooth headset, working from home, or even sitting on a beach in Spain, they can have their say!

The Technology Is No Longer A Barrier

Sometimes, mangers can forget that conference calling isn’t a difficult thing to set up. With the rise of Skype and the smartphone, you don’t need to pay for extra IT Services to schedule remote meetings. Services like Google Hangouts allow you to conduct a visual meeting or “webinar” with no costs for setting up the service at all.

Conference Call Etiquette

As with all meetings there is a certain etiquette applied to conference calls. One person needs to chair the meeting so that everybody gets a chance to have their say. The chair will invite everyone to voice their opinion. Quite often, in a voice only call, the person speaking will say their name before they make a comment just so everybody is clear on who has said what. This is also helpful to the person taking the minutes of the meeting.

Who Can Take Part?

Anybody with a phone can take part! It just takes one person to organise it. They will send out an email to everyone stating what date and time the meeting will take place and people will confirm their ‘attendance’.

For video conferences nowadays you may utilise your organisation’s facilities or just do a video conference with a software solution right from your desktop.

Conference calls are a fuss-free way of conducting meetings without all the hassle that goes alongside them. Expenses will be lower and people will find themselves with a lot more time on their hands to follow up the actions from the meeting. It’s becoming a more and more popular way of communicating across offices.

Do you like conference calls? Or don’t? Why not share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

About the Author

Harry Price is a guest blogger and entrepreneur. He is a personal trainer and an animal right’s activist.

 

5 Reasons Why A Hacker Might Be Tapping Into Your VoIP Phone System

March 27, 2014 by Nancy Baker No Comments »

Businesses seem to be turning to VoIP phone systems in huge numbers and it might be something to do with how many online businesses are operating these days. If you’re one of those companies you’ll get tons of benefits from using VoIP, but what about the negatives you’ve got to watch out for?

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One threat you might experience is a hacker making their way into your system. You’ve already got to deal with software security and all your important data will be stored on hard drives, so a hacker attacking your phones is the last thing you need. If you’re wondering why a hacker would want to target your VoIP we’ll look at a few of the main things going through their mind.

Ruin your business

Your phone lines could be the heart of your business and if someone has a bone to pick with you they might want to destroy it. Try running a business when you can’t get anyone on the other end of the line and you’ll not succeed. Even if the hacker was to cause a small delay in the traffic flow it would be hard to speak to anyone without giving up after a few minutes. If someone wanted to sabotage your phone system you’ll know they have a huge grudge against you.

Get free calls

When you call someone over VoIP it’s not free if you’re calling landlines and it can actually be quite expensive if you’re calling people in other countries. Skype to Skype chats are great, but there is big money involved when you start calling international landlines. Do you think a hacker will want to pay for those calls by themselves when they could easily hack into your system? It would mean they don’t have to pay anything because you’re left picking up the bills.

Obtain certain information

We’re getting into secret agent territory here because someone could be listening in on your conversations if they want to discover secret information. You could be betting tapped by the FBI because you’re smuggling drugs in and out of South America, or maybe your wife has hired a private detective because she thinks you’re playing around with your secretary. Just realize someone might be listening in because they want some information you don’t want them to have.

Divert sales calls

Your sales staff could be sitting on their VoIP phones right now making you lots of money. A competitor might know you’re doing okay and they’ll try to steal business off you. If they can hack into your VoIP system they might be able to divert some of your calls. That means people looking to buy something will be speaking to the hacker instead of your sales staff. It’s always something to think about if you suffer a sudden drop in phone calls.

To prove something

Most hackers won’t even know who you are and they won’t give a crap about you. They don’t care what happens to your company because all they care about is their hacking skills. They just want to prove something to themselves and everyone who will listen to them on their hacker forum. These are definitely the ones you want to deal with because they won’t want to see your suffer, plus they won’t stick around for too long because they’ll eventually get bored.

Life will surely go on

At least you can be happy about one thing. Even if hackers decide to mess with your VoIP phone system it’s not the end of the world. You will eventually realize what is happening and you’ll be able to deal with it as quickly as possible. If they messed with your hard drives it would be even more painful because data recovery is a lot more annoying than a few missed phone calls. Once you deal with the problem you should be up and running in no time.

 

 

3 Secrets to Motivate Distributed Teams

March 20, 2014 by Wrike Team 4 Comments »

The expansion of the distributed workforce is on the rise. If you do not already work with a fully- or partially-distributed team, you might find your situation changing soon. In the recent survey of Wrike, popular provider of task management software, 66% of respondents believed that their office might go fully virtual by 2017. With that incredible statistic in mind, we need to prepare the knowledge now on how to keep our teams motivated and driven when they’re geographically apart.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, a brand famous for its positive company culture, says, “You can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” Motivating and ensuring the happiness of your staff must be a priority in order to succeed.

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In line with Hsieh’s beliefs, Wrike’s productivity survey found that the top productivity boosters are (in order): a sense of responsibility, a good mood, and a possible reward. And below, we forge these ideas into 3 best management practices that you can use today or in the future to inspire your team even when it’s spread all over the globe.

Give Your Employees a Sense of Responsibility

To encourage this in your employees, work ownership is key. Make your employees accountable for a project’s success and see how it affects their results. Harvard Business Review agrees that the best way to empower your employees is by giving them responsibility and autonomy. This idea founded a new “managerial” (or lack thereof) style: self-organizing teams, which are popular in agile software development. For example, a dynamic software company /ut7 dared to try it and gave full ownership to their employees, i.e. no more managers. And as a result, they always deliver their work on time. Treehouse similarly adopted a flat org chart, and it has kept everyone accountable because there is no place to hide if a project falls flat – the responsibility is on your shoulders. When you trust your employees to create bright, innovative work without micromanagement, it creates an incentive for hard work and dedication to projects.

One more powerful method of empowerment is encouraging peer review. It will create a culture of responsibility between your employees. This way, managers share some leadership and control over quality with their team members.

Create a Good Mood

How do you create a good mood for your employees when you can’t see them? You build a relationship. Thanks to the advent of video and instant messaging tools, you can easily set up virtual bonding activities. Establish a venue for the “virtual water cooler” to share personal photos, talk about your weekend, or just have simple fun. Volvo IT, an organization with a global workforce of over 60,000 employees, would have one office order food for an office in a different country, thus creating a fun, impromptu office party. If you create an enjoyable distributed-office environment and meet your employees on a personal level, it creates the opportunity for them to feel more connected to the company and your cause.

Another way to create a good mood and also motivate diligence for your employees is to establish open lines of communication. If you provide consistent feedback, and allow them to provide feedback too, it will foster a culture of trust – an environment every employee craves. Furthermore, when you think your employee is having problems, talk to them about their roadblocks, identify the cause of their loss in motivation, and create a solution together.

Reward Them

As an extension of creating a good mood, it is important to reward your employees by showing your appreciation for their work. Ensure that you celebrate the achievement of both short-term goals and long-term goals. Forbes cites a study which found that providing substantial employee recognition shows a 31% decrease in employee turnover rates. With a distributed team it isn’t possible to shake hands or give pats on the back, but you can send encouraging messages or “Employee of the Week/Month” awards through email and chat platforms.

You can also reward your employees for their success through great benefits. In addition to benefits, a well-developed incentive program will encourage your employees to push harder and pass benchmarks of success. Inc. published a list of perks you can afford, such as reimbursement for work-related outings, free food and drinks in the office, and paid volunteer time. Global accommodation-booker Airbnb, which has offices in 12 countries, gives their employees $2,000 a year to travel anywhere on the globe. There is a never-ending list of ideas for what you can provide your employees.

While motivating a distributed team may be difficult, it isn’t impossible. If you understand key productivity motivators, then you can take these ideas and implement them in your virtual workspace.

Have you tried any of these motivation methods before? What has worked for your team?

 
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