As the director of marketing and business development at Teo, Thomas M. Beck manages strategic business development, marketing, advertising, public relations and partner relationships for Teo. Beck offers his insight on what factors companies need to consider in order to reap the rewards of a mobile workforce, and how unified communications can play a role in effective management practice.
Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before. Companies are jumping on the telecommuting bandwagon as they continue to realize its many benefits, both for themselves and their employees. In fact, one 2010 survey by Telework Research Network indicated that businesses that let 100 employees work half of their time from home can save more than $1 million per year, and that each employee individually would save $6,800 per year themselves. And aside from financial benefits, employees who take advantage of telecommuting policies are happier and willing to devote more time to their work, according to a January 2011 Entreprenuer article.
However, when looking to implement and improve your telecommuting options, you need to consider that it’s much more than remote working – that technology plays a huge part in enabling employees to efficiently and effectively telecommute. Most free solutions meant for consumers, such as Skype and Google Talk, don’t adequately address professional communications needs.
For example, there’s been a lot of talk in the industry lately about Skype as an alternative to unified communications (UC). Skype, of course, is a video and chat communications client that can be easily downloaded from the Web – seemingly much like video conferencing features commonly included in UC platforms. However, to access Skype’s capabilities, users have to create a new identity (hence yet another username and password to manage). And once within Skype, users are limited to communicating in a closed network of other Skype users. Options to call non-Skype users have added costs.
For employees to be as productive and effective as they would be in the office, they need truly seamless communications from any location and on any device. Enter UC.
With UC, employees have one phone for everything and a single IP extension for wherever they are, eliminating the multi-device, multi-ID and multi-application juggling act that so many are subjected to on a daily basis. Ultimately, this increases employee productivity and efficiency by fully integrating mobile, remote and distributed workers. Workers are granted the ability to be productive without being confined to their office desk.
In contrast to the consumer solutions above, a professional UC platform is designed to work with your existing number so you can send and receive calls with the familiar and easy-to-use capabilities of your regular phone system. And you can do it from anywhere to anyone. Beyond phone calls, users can use other capabilities such as IM, the ability to set and view presence and even hold video calls.
Other benefits of UC include:
• Presence – Even when you’re off-site, you’ll know who’s in the office and available and who’s not.
• Advanced routing – Enable calls to follow you wherever you are, and you’ll never have to play phone tag with your boss or a client again.
• Group conversations – Multi-party conferencing and management of group calls makes meeting with clients and colleagues while on the road much easier.
• Smartphone features –Systems like Teo’s offer mobile capabilities to keep you connected. You’ll be able to access call logs through a single UC portal, check messages through the one-voice-mailbox feature as well as additional benefits such as multi-party conferencing, seamless data roaming and advanced routing.
• Easy to use – You have one phone number, extension and inbox for everything
To meet the demand of today’s mobile workers free from restrictions or barriers to productivity, a truly unified communications solution is the only way to go.