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What You Need To Know About Telecommuting

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Working on the train (Photo by rxb)

It was found in a recent study that around 20% of employees around the world spend a part of their work week doing their jobs from home.

Seven percent of these are those who work from home every day. Telecommuting, remote work or telework is an arrangement wherein the employees do not come in their office (or commute, hence the term) or to a central place of work.

Some work from at home while others work from coffee shops or other locations. This type of arrangement is becoming widely used among different companies all over the world although their views and standards of these countries are far from the same.

 Potential benefits of Telecommuting

For starters, it can actually save the company millions of dollars. It has a significant impact on a company’s overhead expenses, at the same time helps employees save money but cutting on a commute or gas costs.  Similarly, less commuters and less car users also reduce traffic congestion, road accidents and pollutants.

The flexibility of time has also helped many employees balance their life better between work and the home. Studies have shown that an employee’s productivity increases in a telecommuting arrangement. It was even found that around 75% of business or organization owners notice happier employees. This may be credited to the fact that some employees get more stressed as they are in their workplaces.

Telecommuting has also been found to possibly help keep 83% more talented women in the workplace instead of leaving in order to stay at home.

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Virtual Presence Handshake (Photo by ganderssen1)

Technology has made it easy for companies and their employees to stay in touch even when they do not physically see each other in the office.  For example, with a stable Internet connection, employees can still be part of conferences via some web conferencing software or phone systems. Many companies have also developed their products, like the RingCentral virtual PBX, to accommodate the growing number of companies that have telecommuters. Employees are also able to access the company’s network, and send e-mails and reports via the Internet.

But as many benefits as it has, telecommuting has also raised some drawbacks and concerns as well.

 What’s stopping them?

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of employers is “losing control” over their employees who choose to work from at home. Experts say that telecommuting only works when employers hold their people responsible for the work they are doing from at home or outside the office.

At first, productivity rate was seen to drop, most probably because those concerned are still adjusting to the “new work regimen.” In the long term, however, surveys have found that the productivity of teleworkers will climb eventually.

Another concern is that in telework arrangements, employees need to work harder to maintain good relationships with their co-workers. Not seeing them every day may cause certain conflicts to arise and some telecommuters even feel a sense of disconnection from their office.

Security is also another issue that has been raised with regards telecommuting. It was found that many telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system that may put a lot of sensitive information at risk. Information technology issues have also been raised as one of the main problems of working from a location outside the office.

Telecommuting, in some cases, may also negatively affect a person’s career. In a recent survey it was found that people who telework are less likely to get promoted because executives cannot promote people into leadership roles if they haven’t been consistently seen and monitored.

There indeed is a lot of improvement needed for those who allow telecommuting in their offices. But one thing is certain. By giving a lot of support to their employees, businesses will definitely benefit from their being more productive, happier and healthier, regardless of where they choose to work.


What do you think about those potential risks? Have you remediated them or banned telecommuting like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo? I am looking forward to hear you opinion around this.

Innovative Technologies for Investor Relations

The utilisation of innovative technologies in Investor Relations gains more and more weight. The global finance crisis led to uncertainties across financial markets. The reactions on incoming news and information from Investor Relation departments impacted the market heavily.

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Jan Johansson (President & CEO of SCA) during an annual general meeting (Photo: SCA)

That is why it is now an important task for the management of such companies and their Investor Relations departments to re-gain trust. The target is to enable a target-driven direct communication to investors, analysts and other stakeholders without giving a wrong impression or deliver data that would lead to wrong assumptions. For this communication to happen, more and more organisations utilise innovative technologies. Such technologies are also known as “Unified Communications” tools and aid Investor Relations significantly with the efficient communication with a usually large number of recipients. On top of that many investors and analysts are scattered across the globe and therefore subject to time zone related difficulties.

Important technologies within the Unified Communication tool-set utilised in Investor Relations are:

Video Conference Services

Video conferencing services allow organisations to rapidly and easily get in contact with one or many investors or analysts. This way of communicating is becoming more and more attractive as the prices for video conference system deployments have significantly going down recently – becoming a much more affordable solution. Beyond the normal functionality of communicating with audio and video dimensions, high-end video conferencing technologies also allow sharing screens or other digital content into the video conference, such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations or business plans in form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for instance. Now one is able to present such files live without sending the data per mail prior to a meeting., which cuts a lot of issues like “having an out-dated file” at hand during the conference. Video conferencing not only is a great way of delivering high quality communication, but also can save a lot of costs and increases productivity of teams. While Investor Relations officials would be required to take a plane to fly to an appointment, now the very same person can save time and costs by arranging a video conference and getting the message across to many even on the same day.

Live Video Streaming via IP

Another way of delivering information from important events is the live video stream via internet or intranet. Like this an organisation can easily broadcast from an annual general meeting (AGM) and deliver a video feed in HD not only to on-site audience but also to remote investors and analysts. The video stream could be watched from Notebook, PC, Mac, Tablet or even from Smartphones. With Digital Signage the event could be embedded into information displays that could be deployed in meeting rooms or public areas. The possibility of facilitating IP Video Streaming do not always require an own infrastructure and staff for events that happen only once per year. They can be also booked as a service and the streaming solution will be provided by specialists at scalable costs. If an organisation however runs events at a high frequency or requires video transmission for other reasons, they can invest in own infrastructure and managed services to look after their infrastructure. This would enable an organisation to flexibly utilise video streaming solutions and would save costs on long-term outlook.

Video-on-Demand Platforms

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Analyst focused on watching an annual general meeting (Photo: QSC AG)

A Video-on-Demand solution serves archiving purposes and enables the playback of any previously recorded videos, video conferences or events in case someone could not attend the live video stream. You could for example provide access to shareholders, who would usually not be able to see the live broadcast due to being in another time zone. This kind of solutions is also known as “Corporate YouTube” using the role of YouTube as “mother” of all Video-on-Demand platforms. Also for Video-on-Demand solutions organisations can choose between solutions managed and hosted for them or deploy them in their own infrastructure and have it supported by managed services to ensure a maximum availability to the users.

Summary

In summary we can see that innovative technologies such as Unified Communication tools are utilised in Investor Relations and being a great value-add to the communication and delivery of information towards stakeholders of internal and external nature. A business case is relatively quick assembled, since the technologies increase quality in communication and also steadily decrease costs that would normally be spent on travel and hotels. Also the technologies can greatly increase productivity of teams even if they are not in the same place.

Video Conference Services for Banks of the Future

How Video Conference Services can create additional value for banks of the future.

The Banking Sector and the whole financial industry have been subject to considerable change within the last couple of years. The fast development of the Internet and the growing acceptance of Internet users for online banking, entail great chances as well as great risks. Deutsche Bank AG Co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen has expressed his concerns about possible competition from big Internet companies such as Google or Microsoft, who have detailed knowledge about their customers’ preferences, which they could use for financial services.

Also video conference services play an ever growing role in the banking sector and add positively to change and modernization of business processes. Especially investment banks make use of video conference services in order to globally exchange real time information about markets, shares, currencies and other relevant information.

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“Deutsche Bank Skyscrapers in Frankfurt, Germany” by Thomas Wolf (www.foto-tw.de)

Up to now video conference services have been used seldom in areas such as Private Wealth Management, although those could potentially have an important impact on changing banking products and offers. Many banks keep themselves busy with designing concepts for bank branches of the future, in which video conference services certainly will be one of the components.

If you take a closer look at the traditional banking concept for private customers throughout Germany (provident banks, cooperative banks, Deutsche Bank, Postbank, Commerzbank and many more) you will not find a lot of creative approaches for change: During normal office hours customers get detailed advice about accounts and construction loans, leaving almost no time for individual advice.

Video conference services could leave more design scope to banks, thus helping them to offer better, faster and more tailored advice to their customers.

Improving Internal Communication

Using modern video conference services enables banks to equally inform all employees at all locations about current developments at the financial market, political changes or new products of the bank and their business partners. A big advantage compared to ordinary media channels (e-mail, intranet, video streaming, etc.) is the personal contact, which allows for further inquiries and therewith promotes a higher level of knowledge. Furthermore participation numbers are transparent.

Remote Experts Advice via Video Conference

In many cases customers confront their bank advisers with very complicated questions. The worst case is that the adviser will give the customer bad advice or has to start a lengthy inquiry within the bank to get the necessary information from an internal expert. Either way is not very customer friendly. A smart solution here would be to patch in the expert via video conference. This concept could also save travel costs where experts are shattered across the whole country and it additionally could accelerate decision processes concerning sales and distribution deals.

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This lady can talk to the right expert, thanks to video conferencing services.

Customer Advice via Video Conference

Modern video conference services can also be used to advice customers via video conference. Many video conference services permit taking part in a video conference via desktop PC, Mac or also with Tablet or Smartphone as mobile service. In the future bank advisers can effortlessly communicate with their customers via video conference. This still might sound like a vision to banks, but it should not be forgotten that the coming generation has been exposed to video conference services such as Skype since their early childhood and does not have any reservations against this communication medium. Banks certainly will have to look into this new consumer behaviour.

Consequently video conferences and modern video conference services have great potential for innovative financial services and banks. Putting technology to use in a smart way can be the decisive competitive edge for banks in creating an ideal environment for individual and superior advice also in the future.

Have you ever been using service like these or is your organisation having similar approaches? Let us know of your experiences and drop us an comment below!

VoIP is Perfect for Business Communication

In the past, the way to communicate was through snail mail and landline phone service. This was one of the major obstacles when conducting business. Mail is slow to arrive and phone lines are busy all the time. Suppliers and producers alike have to handle transactions over the phone and voice support alone is not enough to convey enough information. Today, there are VoIP service providers such as RingCentral that could make work easier and more efficient.

VoIP is now being dubbed as the future’s communication super technology and already today a part of  the Unified Communication Strategy of many enterprises. VoIP is the abbreviation of Voice over Internet Protocol. It makes your voice cross boundaries through the Internet. In any type of business, communication is the key to gain success. This of course entails the use of only the best modes of communication. So far, VoIP service is already gradually becoming a leader in this type of industry. It’s because it offers so many services and applications that landline and mobile phone services cannot.

voip-headset-logoVoIP is Easy to Use

If you know how to chat using the ones offered by email service providers, you would not have any problems learning how to use VoIP. Instructions are very easy to follow and even your employees will not have trouble toggling VoIP applications. You can use VoIP using your desktop computer, laptops, smartphone hybrids or have it directly connected to your analogue system. The best way to make use of this of course is from a computer-to-computer basis because calls will not take up any costs. 

VoIP is Very Flexible

Businesses are now making a switch to VoIP because it also offers an intra-office communication solution. Instead of each person or division having their own numbers, the employees are now required to have their very own VoIP account for easier inter-office communication. This is advantageous for the employees because they will not have to transfer desks to give necessary documents when they can just send these with the use of VoIP. It can also be used when sending and receiving messages to other people outside the office. This can also be used for outside communication. In fact, it is currently being used by businesses that have more than one office and can also be used to communicate with other business contacts such as investors, suppliers and clients.

 VoIP Offers More than Just Voice Support

VoIP is not just a service that mimics telephone conversations. It is far more progressive than that. If you have a webcam, you will be able to see the person you are speaking to, facilitating a video conference. You also have the capability to talk to multiple users if you wanted to and make it a multi-site-call. This can be an advantage if you are on vacation but need to be on call for business related activities. For example, you have a file you missed to endorse to a certain employee. VoIP can let you talk to this person and share that file at the same. What is more interesting is that text files are not the only types of documents you can share using VoIP. You can also send rich media files such as videos and audio. You can even attach a voice message using your email!

When you choose VoIP, you improve inter-personnel communication. Since people now are discovering the advantages of using the Internet when placing orders or building business contacts, you too can benefit by making yourself easily reachable with the use of VoIP and other Unified Communication technologies.

Common Technologies Complicate The Telecommuting Debate

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Photo by Victor1558

Twitter and the blogosphere have been completely immersed in a fierce debate over the merits of telecommuting vs. coming into the office to work thanks to actions taken by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer a couple of weeks ago. With the adoption of new technologies, including widespread use of smartphones, video conference software, and VoIP PBX phone systems, how important is it to come into the office every day? The answer is: we’re not really sure. There are too many entries in the debate to read through, but here are a couple of the main arguments from each side:

I can be just as productive at home

The core of this argument lies in the technology that most professionals have at their disposal these days out of necessity. Most people have access to a broadband internet connection at any given moment, whether it’s in their home or the café down the street.  If a business invests in the proper IT, they can offer their employees a myriad of ways to connect to workers who are based at the office and fellow telecommuters. Thanks to unified communications tools in addition to even more advanced conferencing applications, employees can be “at the office” while in the comfort of their own home. This saves workers from being distracted by the day to day social goings on at the office, as well as the time suck that is the morning and evening commutes. With the addition of VoIP PBX phone systems that allow for “virtual” offices in any location, proponents of telecommuting see no real need to spend every day at the office.

Only an office can provide the collaborative atmosphere a business needs

Those on Mayer’s side think that even though there are these technologies available, nothing can replace the benefits of face-to-face interaction and socializing. Water cooler talk isn’t just about talking about last night’s football game. It’s also about brainstorming and hashing out strategies pertaining to the day’s projects. Working in the office is also about being able to have proper oversight when it comes to worker productivity. Bosses like Mayer want to foster a sense of community at the workplace so employees will feel like they’re a part of a team working towards a goal that everyone will benefit from.

Who’s right? 

It’s impossible to say who’s right. It comes down to management style and people’s individual personalities. Some people do their best work at home while others get hopelessly distracted. But with unified communications technology available, there’s no reason why people can’t alternate between the two. Working from home half the week and the office the other half might provide employees with the best of both worlds.

Do You Need A Policy For Your Remote Workers?

After Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has previously reaffirmed the ban on telecommuting, discussion spread across the social web. Not only potential remote workers and telecommuters are affected by such policies but als the employer. For those who cannot agree on her decision, we would like to give some pointers around the creation of a remote working policy and what you should consider.

A remote working arrangement can be a great way to increase your company’s perceived flexibility, and it’s particularly beneficial for parents of young children. Working from home makes it easier for employers to recruit globally, and to hire otherwise-qualified but physically disabled workers who wouldn’t be able to make it to the office. The arrangement that’s best depends on your company’s location, work type and culture; if you’re planning to allow some of your workers to operate remotely, you’ll need a sound policy. Below, you’ll learn more about remote working policies and the parts to be included.

Creating an Effective Policy

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to foster a productive environment. Making the switch to remote working can be difficult, because it requires that you give up some degree of control over that environment; after all, who’s to say that employees won’t game the system? How can you effectively supervise workers whom you don’t see each day? Before a remote working arrangement can be implemented, those questions need to be answered. The first step in implementation is to create a remote working policy, which is a set of guidelines for work-at-home employees. As you’re drafting your policy, keep the following ideas in mind.

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Telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

Will you Need Multiple Policies?

The first question you’ll need to answer is: Do you need two policies, or one umbrella policy? If at all possible, avoid having separate policies for in- and out-of-office workers. Separate policies can confuse workers and lead to unfairness and resentment. Put together a unified policy that amply covers the job’s basic requirements, but make it broad enough to allow workers to operate in the most efficient way.

Outline Your Expectations to Remote Workers

To ensure that your workers remain on-task, you’ll need to set forth some expectations. Employees like working from home because it offers greater flexibility, but you’ll still need to let them know that you expect work to be completed on a certain date. Allow employees to work from home, but establish deadlines and measure output so productivity stays high.

Assign Responsibility for Expenses

When drafting a work-from-home policy, you’ll need to assign responsibility for business expenses. With remote working, the boundaries between work and home life tend to blur. Do you buy employees’ office supplies if they work from home? Do you change your mileage-tracking method if employees begin their commute from home? Your company should already have a policy for in-office workers, but you should have guidelines in place for remote workers as well.

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Barry Mulcahy Makes His Point (Photo credit: topgold)

Technology Toolset and Unified Communications

To provide your remote workers with an environment close to or equal to what they have in the office, you need to consider the technology that they will require. You should liaise with the IT department around your unified communications solution that you have in place and make sure it can be utilised from a remote position as well. If you are planning unified communications strategy and roadmap, you should make sure to consider your remote workforce as well.

Data Security

One of the largest remote-working challenges is keeping sensitive data secure. Working from home allows for greater flexibility, but it also requires a certain degree of data vulnerability. If information security is an important part of your corporate philosophy, collaborate with the IT department to properly secure and access data, and give remote workers the security tools and training they need.

If your company allows for remote working, you should have a policy in place. Remote working policies protect both you and your employees, and they set forth clear expectations. When drafting your policy, be clear and consistent without taking away any of the flexibility that makes remote working such a popular option—and once the policy is completed, be sure everyone knows what’s expected.

Have An Ultimate Experience With The LifeSize Icon Video Conferencing System

They are out: Check out the new LifeSize Icon series video conferencing endpoints!

Gone are those days, when business was concentrated at a single location. This era witnesses the spread out of business, globally. Many businesses have their bases in in numerous countries of the world or in many cities across a country, so it is not possible to monitor the production team or any other unit of a company by making a physical presence. This calls for the extensively emerging need of ‘video conferencing’, which makes it easier for the business heads to visit all the units or conduct meetings worldwide, and finally, enjoy supper with the family. Doesn’t it feel contended? Of course, it does!

 

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Like it or not! Video conferencing is on a fast transitional phase. Now, it is about the best quality to have best business meetings. Companies are looking out for systems that provide seamless experience, which is easy to use, efficient and budget friendly.

Bearing all the factors in mind, LifeSize has come up with a newly designed system – the Icon series. LifeSize, a division of Logitech, has introduced this system that not only eliminates the cost, but also renders a system that can be used on the go, as soon as the system is installed, without any substantial training.

Colin Buechler, CEO of LifeSize, motioned that the interface of this system is easy to handle, as it doesn’t have too many buttons, to make the system complex to handle. According to him, cost and the system complexity are the two major reasons for any company to be away from the adoption of a video conferencing system and LifeSize has taken care of these factors, while developing its system.

According to LifeSize, Icon Series can be deployed with LifeSize UVC applications that make video conferencing more efficient and flexible. When a video conference is a concern, there are two major factors that are taken into consideration—image and audio quality. So, here is certain in-depth information regarding these two qualities:

High Definition Image

LifeSize cameras provide high definition image, with a wide angle of 70 degrees. The camera lens is empowered by up to 10x optical zoom. The camera supports the highest video performance available and delivers flawless 1080p60 for ultimate clarity and fluid motion.

High Definition Audio

High definition image doesn’t suffice the need of an efficient video conference, it requires having an echo free audio too. The built LifeSize Digital MicPod in the Icon series systems delivers a great feel of Telepresence , as it has an omnidirectional microphone with strong audio processing and delivering capability. Also, if you want to have a standalone environment, you can soon integrate LifeSize touch-screen phone into the system.

Now how much is that?

What are you waiting for? LifeSize Icon series has already arrived and is available at a starting price of 2,999 USD (depending on your region and selected features). Check out their homepage for more information and request a demo!


The LifeSize Icon Series Commercial

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