Why Your Business Should Allow Employees to Telecommute

Working from homeThe advantages and disadvantages of working remotely continue to be debated. Some argue that telecommuting disrupts the traditional nine to five environment. Others argue that it increases productivity and efficiency. Regardless of which side you’re on, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: waking up, throwing on a robe, drinking a cup of coffee, and getting the work day started without a commute sounds almost irresistible.

Here’s a few reasons why we think telecommuting is the future of collaboration:

1. Remote workers are less stressed.

Studies show that 46 percent of mobile workers feel less stressed. A lengthy commute to the city, that struggle to find parking and money wasted on dozens of Starbucks coffees adds unnecessary stress to what could have been a productive and relaxing morning.

2. Remote workers are saving money.

Having the option to work from home can save commuters hundreds of dollars in gas money and the cost of eating out during lunch breaks. Providing different ways of working is allowing companies to save as much as 40 to 50 percent of their real estate portfolio.

3. Remote workers are as connected as in-office workers.

In the age of the Internet, resources are now in the palm of our hands. You can work around-the-clock and around the g

lobe. We no longer have to be in the same room to communicate effectively. Cloud-based project management, web and video meetings and remote administration are all supporting the mobile work environment, and remote workers typically have the same tools available to them as in-office workers do.

Tip: Business owners, if your work environment is currently lacking in productivity, experiment with a 50/50 work environment. Allow employees to spend half of their time working in the office and the other half when and where they choose. The results might surprise you.

The bottom line is 64 million U.S. employees, or 50 percent of the workforce, have jobs that are remote-compatible, and this number is only continuing to grow. Effective collaboration is possible if you give it a chance and if you provide your employees with the right tools.

Read our infographic, “Tips and Best Practices for Working Remotely,” to learn more.

List-Building vs. Lead Qualification: How to Generate Higher Quality Leads from Webinars

iStock_000028512836_XXXLarge Stack of papersOne of the biggest challenges today’s marketers face is generating leads that can be successfully moved through the sales funnel. Even though we have a variety of content tools, types and mediums available to us, it seems like lead generation today is harder than ever.

While many people have negative preconceived notions about the viability of webinars, it has actually been proven that webinars provide higher quality leads. For example, 49% of surveyed marketers said that 20 – 40% of their webinar registrants turn into qualified leads. That’s a huge conversion rate compared to email, social, and even website landing pages. They might take more time and resources, but if 40% of your leads from webinars are turning into business, then it’s producing a much higher ROI than many other marketing tactics.

Webinars can be very successful, but they have to be done right. In our ReadyTalk eBook, “Did You Qualify? Getting the Most Qualified Leads from Webinars,” we collaborated with Ken Molay, President of Webinar Success, to provide you with tips and tactics that will help you build trust and attract prospects in your webinars. One big part of building that trust is making sure you aren’t trying to start the sales dialog too soon.

There are different goals and tactics a marketer should focus on during different stages in the marketing process. At the beginning of the relationship, the goal should be to simply promote awareness of your company, products and services. In the next phase, you need to provide something of value in the form of content, which could range from blogs to white papers to infographics to webinars. However, during both of these phases, it is a good time to try and build your list so that you can create a nurturing program that allows for further communications. Once you have established credibility with your audience by providing value, you will be able to move towards a more sales-directed dialog where you can help establish business needs and solutions.

Many businesses attempt to shorten the cycle by combining list building and lead qualification, but this may cause problems in retaining your prospects. Many webinar registration forms are filled with prying lead scoring questions, like:

1. How many employees do you have?
2. What is your annual sales volume?
3. Are you looking for a new solution immediately, within 3 months, 6 months, a year?

This biggest issue with this tactic is that the more questions you ask that don’t add any value to your audience, the fewer registrations and attendees you will have. A study by Market compared the performance of registration forms with 5, 7, and 9 questions. The results showed that the more information you demand from people upfront, the fewer people actually hear your message and subscribe to your marketing nurturing list. Get to know your audience before asking the hard questions.

To learn about more tips and tactics for producing webinars that produce higher quality leads, download our whitepaper, “Did You Qualify? Getting the Most Qualified Leads from Webinars.”

3 Tips to Spice Up Your Meetings

4 people around a table from aboveFirst Round says that the average tech CEO works an estimated 300 days a year, 14 hours a day. And out of those 4,200 hours, 70 percent of that time could be used more effectively.

Some days will always be more productive than others, but one thing you want to avoid in any industry is wasting other people’s time. Although employees attend, on average, 62 meetings per month, one half of that time is seen as unproductive or wasteful. Whether you’re a CEO or an entry-level employee, it’s clear that we have a “waste management” problem, and we’d venture to guess that part of the problem is how people believe collaboration must happen.

To avoid the everyday conundrum of ineffective meetings, use the tips below to give your meetings a face-lift.

1. Have a walking meeting.

Fast Company notes that if you work in tech, you sit over 9 hours a day on average, which is more than the average person sleeps per night. It is scientifically proven that exercise helps brainpower in addition to the health benefits walking provides. Instead of hosting your meeting in the stuffy confines of a conference room, suggest a walking meeting where you can discuss ideas or talk through problems. Find a route by or in your office that makes sense, and you can even identify a location to sit if you need to. Either way, it’ll help get the creative juices flowing and enable you to get away from your desk.

2. Incorporate visual aids.

65 percent of the general population are visual learners, and visual content is the most shared and liked type of content on social channels. The same rule applies to meetings, and you should think about incorporating visual aids into your meetings so people have something to look at so they are able to process what you’re presenting more effectively.

Bonus tip: Think of creative ways to incorporate visual aids besides PPT presentations. Since they are so common in the workplace today, your team can get “slide fatigue.

3. Host an online meeting.

Many times, there is a clear meeting leader or facilitator in a physical, in-person meeting. However, that can be limiting to how other team members interact, making them feel left out or unheard. On the other hand, web and video meetings enable participants to meet with interactive tools like polls, highlighting, writing tools and more. While someone is talking, another team member could be sketching their idea on the screen for all of the team members to see without interrupting. Or, the meeting facilitator could have a pre-meeting and post-meeting poll to get feedback from attendees. Either way, web and video conferencing provides interactive capabilities that traditional meetings do not always offer.

Assure your meetings stay productive, entertaining and interactive by trying these tips. To learn more about making your meetings more effective, view our “Are Your Meetings Effective?” infographic now.

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A Software Engineer’s Perspective of Community

3 people hi-fiving around a computerAs a software engineer, there is a stereotype that I don’t like to socialize with others, especially in group settings. Well, I’m here to say quite the opposite. Although I enjoy being independent at times, I feel an overabundance of joy in helping and socializing with others.

While my inner geek enjoys helping the tech community in contributing to open source projects, it brings me great joy to be able to help out Colorado’s community as well. ReadyTalk’s Charitable Contributions Committee makes volunteering and learning about non-profit organizations a snap.

We had the opportunity to host Action for Healthy Kids at our office in Denver, where Stephanie Ekoniak, State Coordinator, informed us about the non-profit. It was very insightful: starting with why and how to enable kids to eat better, be more fit and ready to learn.

The presentation was informative, bringing some astounding facts about childhood obesity to light. There were a couple of eye-opening slides which show how adult obesity trends throughout the years.

In addition to this, Stephanie pointed out how adults and their behaviors influenced children. While adults may have healthy habits, this doesn’t necessarily translate to children because they may not have the same opportunities in regards to diet and exercise. She imparted some simple changes to help, such as rewarding kids without promoting sugary snacks and treats.

Action for Healthy Kids was not the only non-profit to come and talk to us that day. Josh White, a ReadyTalk Account Executive, is personally involved with the Sean ‘Ranch’ Lough Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship given in his name helps an individual exemplifying the qualities Ranch has, including a high GPA, an economic need and most of all a hearty personality and a love for life.

Hearing Josh speak was very touching, especially hearing how they support those students throughout their entire college career. They truly care about those who receive the scholarship, and even become a point of contact when those individuals need further assistance and guidance.

You can see how passionate these individuals are from the non-profits they support, which is a big part of why ReadyTalk has chosen to support both Action for Healthy Kids and the Sean ‘Ranch’ Lough Memorial Scholarship, along with other organizations. Even though I am a passionate geek that loves working in code, I carry that same passion for helping my community, and know that many of my fellow ReadyTalk Geeks share the same sentiment.

Workplace Transformation: Are You Ready?

Wainhouse Lunch n Learn (2)Last Wednesday, Andy Nilssen, from Wainhouse Research, discussed how millennials, mobility, BYOD/A, and distributed workforces are transforming the workplace.

By 2020, millennials will comprise 50% of the global workforce and they are changing the way we fundamentally work.  They want to bring their own devices/apps, they are natural collaborators and they value flex time and workspaces.  The new way of working includes technologies such as IM/Presence/UC, team workspaces, social networking and workflow integration enabled by mobility, VoIP/OTT and the Cloud.

Knowledge workers will have the flexibility to no longer be tied to their desk. So how do you enable quality collaboration and drive productivity?  Provide technology that enables them to collaborate in the office as well as out of the office and with coworkers and non-coworkers alike.  Give them tools that will allow them to share data, collaborate on documents and do video, support a mobile first strategy, and look at workflow apps that integrate with collaboration solutions, such as: calendars, UC, file services, marketing automation, sales automation and social media.

How do you engage your employees?  Foster a culture that rewards collaboration, encourage “purpose built”, BYO applications and gather feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

Creating a collaborative environment

Create strategies, policies, and structures to institutionalize values, behaviors and practices that promote cooperation among teams.  Set up some overall policies: minimum number of months employed, employee must be in good standing, and be clear around the days and hours that they need to be available. Have departments create policies that work best for their specific team based on tasks/duties that they need to perform and what is conducive to working remotely vs. working in the office.

Encourage purpose built, BYO devices/applications

Allowing users to work on the devices that they are already comfortable with can boost productivity within your organization.  So what will you need to do to support this?  Ensure your infrastructure is setup to handle the variety of devices and apps that your workers will be using.  Pay particular attention to network utilization and bandwidth consumption.   Make sure you have security in place to handle the third party tools that will be on your network.   Vet the app to see if it stores data, where it stores it and is it encrypted or not.  Set clear guidelines with managers and employees.

Gather feedback

Anytime you launch a new program, application or policy, it’s always good to set up a feedback loop.  Circle back with managers and employees to see what is working, what’s not.  Does the policy need to be changed? Do new guidelines need to be in place?  Is it positively or negatively impacting the business?

Workplaces are transforming, make sure you are ready.   You can read more about how to improve remote work experiences on the ReadyTalk blog.