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Frustrated with Traffic? Teleworking and Videoconferencing: As good as being there

By June 27, 2018 August 13th, 2018 No Comments

Regardless of how you might feel about moving to a more distributed, mobile, and remote workforce, the trend started years ago and has continued with more and more companies and people choosing to move in this direction. Although moving to a remote workforce isn’t necessarily right for all people or companies, you need to understand your work culture and for the remote worker, you need to understand yourself and your own work habits before committing to work remotely.

At Digitcom the remote workforce trend, otherwise known as “teleworking”, started about six years ago and has increased steadily over the years, and now over 30% of our staff work remotely either some, or all of the time. It does help that Digitcom is in the technology business, and we use the very tools that we sell to help us keep in touch when working remote.

What are some of the tools that Digitcom sells and what do we use when working remote?

Email:
For starters, Digitcom moved off Exchange to Gmail corporate a few years ago. That change has enabled us to log into our email from any handheld device or PC, whether in or out of the office, without having to establish connectivity to our corporate mail server. While I do realize that this same functionality can be enabled using an Exchange Server, we removed the shackles of constantly having to upgrade, patch, and back-up our mail server and moved that responsibility to the cloud.

Voice:
From a voice perspective, we’ve enabled the best of breed of both Avaya and our own hosted platform to enable our remote workforce. Over 60% of Digitcom staff have a hosted phone working from home and we can, at a moments notice, redeploy many of our staff to work from home in the event of a power failure or building catastrophe. It’s happened a couple of times in the last year where we came to our building and found no power in the morning. When that happens, we have a triage of calls that get made to the staff advising them that they should work from home. Our Avaya PBX fails to the hosted system, and those staff with hosted phones can continue their work uninterrupted. For the balance of users, like myself, who work from home or remotely at least 20% of the time, the hosted phone has meant I can work regardless of whether we have power at Digitcom; I still receive my calls.

At Digitcom our primary phone system is still a traditional PBX, but because we use a mix of Avaya IP Office when in the office, and hosted when working remote, we frequently use the Avaya One-X platform which requires a browser whether in or out of the office, to change our office call forwarding, see busy lamp field appearances of who is busy, or on do not disturb, or, even make calls using the Avaya One-X portal. And when I am travelling I have access to two softphone clients, Avaya and hosted, both of which provide me with local dial tone and the ability to dial desk to desk to the other Digitcom employees.

Conference calls:
The conference call is the mainstay of the teleworker. I find myself on at least one inbound conference call per day, and with the Avaya or hosted platform you can create inbound conference calls enabling all individuals, whether in the office, same city or anywhere, to meet on a conference bridge at a predefined time.

Video conferencing:
Digitcom started using the Avaya Scopia video conferencing solution a few months ago, and since that time we have done interviews and training using the tool. In February of this year, one of our senior technicians was scheduled to be in the office to conduct a half day training course for the other techs, but, was forced to turn back home when a typical Canadian snow storm forced him to work from home. Rather than reschedule the training session we used the Avaya Scopia, and we had the trainer on a large 50 inch TV screen at the front of the room using the projector to conduct the training. Two other participants who could also not make it into the office attending the session through the Avaya Scopia video conferencing solution. Since then we have done numerous remote internal and external demos and meetings using videoconferencing.

The teleworking trend started many years ago and if anything, “teleworking” is increasing over time. With the ever increasing costs of travel, traffic congestion and demands on individuals time, teleworking and videoconferencing are tools to ensure the most effective use of your human resources. You need the make sure the corporate culture lends itself to the trend, the remote worker has the self discipline to stay focused and not get distracted by laundry or the swimming pool, and that the firm has and is making use of the technology that allows telecommuting to happen.

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