Category Archives: Remote Working

Remote employees: Your most-engaged workers

Let's look at that title for a second. Remote employees, your most-engaged workers? Aren't they just scattered across the globe doing who knows what?

Well, we beg to differ. Remote employees really can be your most engaged workers when you've got the right collection of tech in the toolbox. Sure, you may have not believed that sentiment 10 years ago, but we've come a long way since then. If we can now have pet food delivered by drone via the tiny computer in our pocket, we can take the "remote feeling" out of remote work.  

Trust + tech
Telecommuting arrangements are kind of like trust falls – have faith in your long-distance employees to get their work done, and you create a positive and synergistic relationship between you and your talent. Remote workers are more productive, according to the Association for Talent Development, while a study by research firm Future Workplace found that they're also more engaged

Now, we know trust falls and secret weapons don't really go together, but companies have one when it comes to employing remote workers: technology.

Without using smart systems to engage your remote workers, you could have a team of far-flung employees who you only hear from once a year, like some kind of corporate meteor shower that people prophesize about.

To avoid this – and to make sure your remote workers are über-engaged – there are three technologies you should take advantage of:

1. Hosted voice
Long gone are the days of every employee using the same company-issued phone and computer. When the cloud rolled in, it also brought with it hosted voice, a business phone service that enables unified communication, no matter the device people are using or the location they're calling from. 

2. Video conferencing
Don't think of remote workers as sepia-toned versions of their Gmail profile pics. Instead, engage with remote workers just as dynamically as you would with in-office employees with HD video conferencing. Hey, you could even create a little army of "Mobile Virtual Presence Devices" for each of your remote workers à la Sheldon Cooper, we won't stop you.  

3. Webcasts 
Remote workers being out-of-touch with what's going on with the company is so 2010. Webcasts keep telecommuters in the loop through live-streamed quarterly meetings, conferences and team-building events. 

These tools can help you make remote workers seem closer than ever and see engagement skyrocket for your telecommuting talent. 

4 Tech Tools IT Needs to Rethink

There are a few tools and workplace strategies today’s employees may not be using properly, and may not know it. These tools may be wasting money, gathering dust or not relevant anymore. Or worse, maybe all of those together at once! Don’t waste time, money and tech.

4 tech tools IT needs to rethinkAnd while you’re at it, consider how the workforce is changing and has already changed. Your employees are working remotely; that’s only increasing in frequency. Sales people are often at the office of your prospects and customers. IT personnel are working on servers at the data center. Marketing professionals are meeting with prospects at a trade show across the country. That doesn’t include all the doctor’s visits, dentist appointments, kids’ parties and more your employees are attending. Going mobile will increase productivity and ensure your workforce is still connected.

That’s why you need to rethink this technology in the office:

1. Desk phones

We live and work in a highly mobile world now, so there is no longer a need for the vast majority of employees to have and use desk phones. Instead, employers should empower their workers by providing them with work smartphones or implementing a bring your own device (BYOD) policy and reimbursing them for any added expenses.

Using smartphones, companies can use cloud communications, like hosted voice, to ensure people are contacted on their mobile device. It’s affordable and efficient.

2. Hard drive storage

Businesses thrive on easy access to necessary information. If your employees are storing their documents on outdated hard drives – or worse, on their desktop computer – your IT department is not only behind the times, but may also be putting your data at risk.

Hard drives are not a secure storage option, which is why your company should consider updating to the cloud. It’s secure. It’s affordable. And it’s usually saving your IT personnel time.

3. Email and instant message (IM)

A large portion of companies use free or low-cost email service providers. While convenient, these tools don’t maximize worker efficiency. Consider adding instant message (IM) to the mix to enable employees to easily contact each other. Again, cloud communications make that easy. Because let’s face it, there are a times a quick text is better than getting an email, especially when you’re on-the-go.

4. Video conferencing tools

If you aren’t using video conferencing tools to connect with employees, talk with prospects or get customer feedback, you’re missing out. It’s efficient and effective. Face-to-face communication is always best and video gets you one step closer, even as your workforce is busy. There are lightweight solutions that are affordable, like FoxDen, a product powered by ReadyTalk.

5 Tips on Moving to the Cloud

Move to the cloudCloud computing will continue to grow over the next few years. If your business is done with handling bulky, expensive on-premises IT systems, consider moving to the cloud today. It’ll free up IT resources, streamline and add to your productivity, enable your remote workers, provide business recovery benefits and more.

If you’re like most people, though, you have fears of moving to the cloud — from talking with employees about which data moves to security. Address those fears and get the most out of your move. Here are five tips on how to start:

1. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

You don’t have to be fully on-premises or in the cloud. Many companies benefit from a hybrid IT environment. If you don’t believe you can move all your operations to the cloud, choose the ones that you can and keep the rest in-house.

2. Create goals

You need to develop a mix of short- and long-term goals for what you want to accomplish through moving to the cloud. This way, you’ll know you’ll be on track for reaching your main objective — a successful cloud migration.

3. Improve communication channels

Everyone should be in the loop during a major IT system restructuring like this. Take time to keep everyone informed and give periodic updates or hold Q&A sessions to give employees a chance to respond. This involves bringing them into the process before decisions are made. This will increase buy-in and ensure a higher adoption rate.

4. Address security concerns

Due to many high-profile data breaches in recent years, your clients and personnel may be concerned about the security risks from a cloud migration. Despite these worries, many companies actually boost their security abilities by switching to a cloud storage provider. Address their concerns to alleviate fears.

5. Use this time to consolidate and reorder data

Like spring cleaning, moving to a cloud-based data center is a great time to consolidate and get rid of excessive data or structures that are no longer relevant or needed. Again, you don’t have to do all or nothing.

Need more tips?

Get more information in our ebook (PDF), Move to the Cloud. You can even start small and move your communications system to the cloud.

Go Cloud Communications

5 Changes That Impact HR and Your Business

hrEvery year, the HR field goes through major transformations. From the rise of analytics to an increased emphasis on employee engagement levels, change is always taking place. In conjunction with the new presidential administration, an increasingly younger workforce and the introduction of new technology, here are five changes in HR that may impact your business this year:

1. Affordable Care Act

The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that it will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Therefore, as an HR leader, you must stay up to date with the latest movements in the health care and insurance sectors. The plan to take its place hasn’t been clarified. Nor has the timeframe.

2. Overtime pay

In May 2016, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez updated the DOL’s final rule regarding overtime regulations. This will extend overtime pay to an estimated 4 million workers within the first year of implementation alone. Prior to this motion, businesses did not have to pay overtime if their workers made more than $23,660 per year. This rule update raises the limit to $47,476 a year. This change may likely affect many employees at your organization.

There’s no word on whether the Trump administration will work to undo this law.

3. Minimum wage

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, yet 29 states plus the District of Columbia have a higher minimum wage than the national average. Many state and city governments are in the process of increasing or are debating increasing their minimum wage, which could impact your non-salaried workers.

Chances are likely this will continue to be driven by states, cities and counties.

4. Feedback, not reviews

With a younger workforce on the rise, many companies are doing away with the dreaded performance review. Instead, organizations are turning to continuous feedback, rather than only once or twice a year. As an HR leader, you may be responsible for reworking your existing performance review strategy this year.

Because more companies are looking to do away with reviews, there’s a need for a better audit trail in case you need to lay off or fire workers. In fact, as a best practice many companies institute an employee performance improvement plan with information about the steps the company has taken to help the employee.

5. Rise in technology for remote working

People want the option to work remotely and not be tied down to their desks. Many offices across the country are introducing video conferencing tools and work-from-home policies to improve workplace satisfaction levels and leverage innovative technologies. This is something to be aware of as an HR leader moving forward into 2017 as 60% of the workforce will be working remotely. And more HR departments are working with IT counterparts to help make this happen for their company, including assisting with internal communications plans to roll this out to employees.

5 Tips to Grow Your Business

As a small business, you may feel at a loss as to how you should effectively grow your operations. If you’re looking to expand or improve profit margins in the new year, here are five tips you might benefit from.

1. Simplify and reduce costs

Focusing your strategy, focusing on best-selling products, focusing on your target consumers … there are many ways to simplify your business to promote future growth. Reduce overhead costs and build up your core team in order to lay the firm foundation on which you hope to flourish. Costs can be associated with your outdated phone system to ineffective communications.

You can also simplify your employment strategy by hiring freelancers or giving up the office you don’t need, and the expenses, and enable your team to work remotely. Roughly $24 / month is easier to swallow than thousands for a downtown office. Reducing costs by simplfying is easier than you think.

2. Reach out to prospects and customers

how a business owner can grow a businessSuccessful marketing tactics revolve around meeting the average consumer where they are. And where most consumers are at is on social media. Build meaningful customer relationships online! Don’t forget a content marketing plan, including webinars.

3. Embrace data

Many small businesses are afraid of data-informed decision-making because they believe it’s costly or won’t support their specific needs. This isn’t the case, as many analytics websites are free or low-cost, such as Google Analytics. Start measuring your progress today!

4. Use video marketing

Most consumers would rather watch content than read it today, which is why video marketing tools are so integral for growing small businesses. If you want to stand apart from your competitors, put videos on your homepage, in your marketing emails, on your social media pages and on your blog.

5. Move to unified communications

Whether you move away from desk phones to enable mobile devices or upgrade your web and video conferencing tools, you need to unify and strengthen your business’s communication strategy. By choosing one vendor, you can save money while providing communications to your company.