Tag Archives: remote workers

How remote work helps the environment

 

Remote working has lots of benefits: increased productivity, lower overhead costs and greater employee engagement. But there’s another major benefit that you shouldn’t overlook.

Remote working helps the environment.

If you want to save the planet, why not start at your desk? Below are several reasons why remote working helps the environment based on statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tech.co Global Workforce Analytics report (and if you want a handy infographic summing it all up, we have that too).

Remote work saves gas

The office commute is the bane of the modern worker’s existence. Eliminate that step, and you’ve also helped soothe the collective psyche of not only humanity but also Mother Nature. Employees who work remotely just 50 percent of the time save 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s equivalent to taking 11 million cars off the road for a year, as well as the amount of carbon sequestered by 1.4 billion tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Remote workers also avoid 119 billion miles of highway driving – that’s the mileage equivalent to circling the Earth 4.7 million times. If the image of commuters mindlessly driving around the world 4.7 million times – and all the road rage that comes with it – doesn’t scare you into making some environmental changes, then we don’t know what will.

Remote work uses less energy

Computers are incredible tools for helping us do nearly anything these days, including saving energy. The greenhouse gas emissions saved by remote workers telecommuting just 50 percent of the time was equal to the amount of electricity used by 8 million homes in one year.

Remote work decreases wear and tear

According to to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Americans take 1.1 billion car trips a day. Some 15 percent of these trips are for commuting, which comes out to 165 million driving commutes taking place each day. In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage, having that many cars on the road every day is just plain bad for infrastructure. Roads, highways and parking garages deteriorate over time, and vehicles start having issues – leading to more car purchases. Nixing the commute and working from home protects the infrastructure around you, meaning less energy used to make costly repairs and upgrades.

Remote work helps save the environment, and when you add in using the right tools like video conferencing and unified communications, you can make sure it’s a productivity boon for your business, too.

Fact-checking common misconceptions about remote work

Even just a decade or two ago, having a remote workforce was probably seen as the stuff of science fiction. How could a company have employees all over the world that are not only effectively managed but productive in their work?

Well, times have changed. New technology like unified communications that enables seamless connection and collaboration between far-flung individuals has changed the nature of work and human relationships. Despite these innovations, however, old fashioned and outdated views of remote work remain popular.

Let's bust the myths and fact-check some common misconceptions about remote work:

Misconception #1: Remote workers are not productive – they're too distracted by the TV.

Fact-check: Sure, a house has distractions like Netflix, video games and a fridge full of food, but an office has its collection of time-wasters, too, such as the watercooler, social-butterfly co-workers and that universal foe to focus, the internet. The reality is that many remote employees find they're actually more productive doing work at home. This may sound counterintuitive, but it makes sense – telecommuters are able to buckle down and get work done in the comfort and quiet of their own home office. In fact, a survey by employee engagement firm TINYpulse found that 91 percent of respondents say that they're more productive working remotely. 

Misconception #2: Remote workers are easily forgotten by corporate.

Fact-check: With tech tools like unified communications, video conferencing and hosted voice, employees in-office can efficiently and productively connect with remote workers, ensuring they are valued members of the team. Remote work arrangements have also been found to reduce employee turnover rates, according to a study published by Stanford University. And when it comes to including remote workers in social office events, companies are getting creative, using video conferences to enable telecommuters to "attend" holiday parties and all-hands meetings. 

Misconception #3: Remote workers are unhappy and isolated. 

Fact-check: They may be located hundreds of miles from the office building, but home-based employees are pretty happy with their arrangements. The survey by TINYpulse found that remote employees are happier at work than their in-office counterparts. And the top reason that employees choose to work remotely was that they "enjoy having the freedom of choosing when and where to work." 

It's time that companies embrace the exciting opportunities that remote work arrangements bring to their organizations' productivity as well as their employees' happiness levels. With this attitude, they can go forth and prosper in the 21st century. 

Don’t Get a Desk Phone

So there’s a phone on my desk that presumably cost ReadyTalk a lot of money, but I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t actually use it and I don’t really even want it. Ever since I said goodbye to my sales role and joined the Innovation department last April, I’ve probably used the phone on my desk no more than 15 times. The last person I spoke with on my office phone was my mom.

Oh, and by the way — it’s my job to do customer interviews (talking to people, usually on the phone) for said Innovation department … and I still don’t want a desk phone.

the desk phone that's never usedI know I am not alone when I say that I hate talking on the phone. Many of my millennial kin are also averse to making phone calls.

It’s no surprise, then, that text-based communication services like Slack and Facebook Messenger have taken off, with younger users who came up through the ranks of AOL Instant Messenger. Plus, I really like the iPhone I carry around with me everywhere anyway — why can’t I just use that for everything?

Well, for me and people like me, we are fortunate to live in the times of cloud communications with unified communications (UC) clients. Shameless plug alert: A robust hosted solution, like ReadyTalk’s Hosted Voice offering, can allow organizations to embrace BYOD, empower their workforce for mobility, prepare themselves for the future of communications, and turn them into a top destination for prospective employees.

Accepting that Millennials will be dictating office behavior for the foreseeable future, let me explain why the move away from desk phones isn’t all bad for IT Directors (and maybe HR, too):

Embrace BYOD and empower your workforce for mobility

You know better than I do that BYOD (bring your own device) isn’t going anywhere. When I was at my last company, an anti-virus provider, there was some fleeting hope that IT departments may be able to at least stem the tide of personal devices on professional networks. Alas, that never actually happened. The smartphone has revolutionized how we get work done; embrace that change and save yourself the headache of managing hardware while leaving upgrading devices to your end users.

Prepare yourself for the future of communications: Video

Video isn’t coming, it’s here. There will be no communication medium more important in the future of work than video (Shameless plug number 2: FoxDen, our video conferencing product is pretty cool). You know what can’t do video right now? My desk phone. You know what can do video right now? The smartphone sitting on my desk.

Turn your company into a destination for the job seekers of the future

budget beatersSo there’s this whole remote work trend … that’s only increasing. More and more, folks are looking for flexibility from their employers as to where they can work. The number of websites for remote job seekers has exploded of late and the ability to offer a remote experience to employees is becoming a more important differentiator for employers. This is particularly salient considering the inches of snow we’re receiving in Denver today. I can’t drive in, but I can still work.

If you already have desk phones, don’t fret. The best part about a well-designed hosted voice solution is that it should be able to insert itself into your existing environment without any issues — all while driving the benefits outlined above. There’s no need to rip out existing infrastructure, though a move to a hosted voice solution could provide a great opportunity for hardware consolidation.

Make smartphones smarter and still use Polycoms

I mentioned above that I do customer interviews but I don’t use my desk phone — that’s because I typically take advantage of our huddle rooms (equipped with phones) for their privacy. Not only could you reduce the hardware you need to manage today, you can cut back on the hardware you have to buy in the future as employees can be provisioned on their smartphones. There will always be some employees who need a desk phone (Hello, Sales across the globe) but even they can benefit from a softphone client on their personal devices. That means they can accept phone calls on-the-go, including from their houses or on the train to ensure they make that deal.

Goodbye desk phone, hello cloud phone

The move to ReadyTalk’s Hosted Voice hosted communication solution will empower your employees to do their jobs better because it will enable them to work how (and where) they’d like to. It will also save organizations a ton of headaches around technology management.

Viva La Revolution: Remote Workers Need Communications

About fifteen years ago, I got up at 5 a.m. and used the company’s VPN to update our external website indicating there was a snow storm in Portland, Oregon and we’d have reduced customer service hours. My manager at the time, the VP of Corporate Communications, was on a task force helping to determine disaster recovery procedures for our company, including communicating with customers and employees. She fought hard to ensure I had VPN access. Fought because at the time, only a handful of employees had access. The company was more willing to give her access instead of the person doing the work: me. IT was concerned about remote working policies, something HR hadn’t had a chance to address.

But that day, fifteen years ago, our website was updated and disaster communications were completed. My VP called every couple of hours to let me know what was expected. I updated the website. Communication worked, even though I was remote.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, that story isn’t so unusual. There used to be gates and issues with getting access to work remotely. Typically executives and senior leaders were given access, even if they weren’t the ones doing the work.

Fast forward to today. It should be easy to work remotely, but typically … it isn’t. Here are a few questions to consider on improving your remote working situation … and revolutionize it. Heck, we all need the communications revolution, even when we’re in the office.

1. Is it easy to communicate and work?

man attending webinarOur workforce right now is teeming with different needs: digital natives (Millennials), digital transplants (Gen Xers) and people who grew up typing … not on a computer (Baby Boomers). Some places still have the Silent Generation, those who remember WWII, working. The technology introduced in their homes when they were children was the radio. Most likely their family got a television when they were teenagers.

That’s a difficult challenge to meet — digital experts who expect technology to work and people less comfortable with that technology who get easily frustrated with it.

The perfect solution is something that’s easy for all of them. What’s easy? Can you just click something and it works? Technology is so good many of the solutions these days offered are all about one click. One. Even communications.

That means the technology needs to be intuitive. In other words, people who have never used a product need to know what to do. People don’t want to read instructions. In fact, if your technology needs instructions, probably time to rethink it. You shouldn’t need a manual to start a video meeting or wait on the AV guy. If it’s easy, users will adopt it. Wouldn’t you?

2. Is it fast?

I recall the days where it took a minute to connect to the Internet and look at emails. Those days of modems are long gone. In fact, we’re consuming more content on our smartphones than ever before. That means technology, like websites, needs to be super fast. If it takes more than a few seconds for something to happen, I don’t know about you, but I run out of patience.

Communication needs to be even faster. I want to instant message (IM) someone to get a quick video downloaded. I’ll pop my head over the cube and ask if we got a customer to review a story. The faster the better.

Does the communication platform start instantly or almost instantly? Can I communicate with someone quickly to get something done?

3. Does it make you feel good and smart?

Here’s a tricky one. When people use technology, they don’t want to feel dumb. They want to be able to use technology and feel smart. Confident.

I love Photoshop. Although I’m good at jumping into new technology and figuring it out, Photoshop took a while. It took classes. I learned tricks from friends. I’m still learning things about Photoshop and I’ve been using the tool for more than ten years. When I ask co-workers, they don’t want to use Photoshop. Why? It’s hard. They can do a few things in it, but really they don’t like using it. They don’t have time to take classes and in the meantime, it makes them feel dumb.

Okay, so that’s a photo / design tool. Communication demands people feel good. That actually adds to the experience of communicating. If we just had a terrible experience trying to use software to communicate, the conversation isn’t as meaningful. And typically we grouse at the beginning of that meeting about the stupid technology that didn’t enable me to join a meeting on time. That’s a communication detractor. Those barriers need to be removed.

4. Does it add more to your communication?

I had an interesting discussion with the chief strategy officer of ReadyTalk recently. And he brought up something that’s so true and something we take for granted: communication is about grok-ing. What’s grok? It’s to understand deeply and completely. Although I’m a writer, I don’t know of an English word that really nails it the way Heinlein’s “grok” does in Stranger in a Strange Land. Grok involves a lot of things: active listening, empathy, rapport, trust, intuition and connection. We’re all seeking the ability to grok each other, even in business meetings. It’s the human condition. We’re put on this earth, really, to grok each other — our spouses and partners, our friends, our children, our parents, our teachers ….

A guy I work with, Tim, had a brilliant observation in a meeting the other day. “When we trust each other, we get beyond the why and get to the how.” He meant people are ready to roll up their sleeves once they grok each other. Good communication enabled that to happen with the team he’s on. Instead of asking whether their salesperson did a number of things, their engineers worked to fix the things she said were issues. They trusted them, the engineers, to do it. Everyone wanted to help. Teamwork Nirvana.

When you’re remote, you need that more grok-ing. I worked remote for a while. Most of team was in Atlanta, except for me and three other people. I heard about team lunches and them working late together. I worked late, too … but what I didn’t have is working late with them in the office. That experience isn’t unusual. My husband works remote now and he complains about one issue and one issue only: communication. In fact, that’s the number one issue businesses are facing: communication. It’s the lack there of and miscommunication that are the biggest problems.

Video communication is a great way for remote employees to grok each other. So is the phone. Face-to-face discussions. Email. IM. Forums. The list of communication is endless. More than anything, it’s about the mix of communication.

It’s the nuances that really drive those connections, from seeing a smile to hearing a sigh. They all drive to what we’re grok-ing about each other.

Putting it all together

Easy to use, fast, that makes people feel good and enables true understanding. That’s what ReadyTalk is doing and why we’re so busy. After all, it’s our job to help you flourish and be productive. And we care about that. Really and truly.

Cloud Business Communications Saves Money at Your Office

A lot has been written about the increased agility, customer service and productivity benefits of using cloud-based business communications services. Cloud services enable many worker types, such as executives, knowledge workers, project managers and customer service staff can work productively anywhere. Unified communications and collaboration tools enable the dispersed workforce to regain the benefits of spontaneous “water cooler” conversations via messaging, voice and video.

That’s right, you don’t have to be in one office to work as if you’re a big company. Your sales team, customer service and creatives can all be dispersed — working from home, in other states or even other countries. That’s the beauty of unified communications.

Office SpaceHowever, there’s another tangible benefit to more agile, flexible working practice – and that’s the reduction of traditional office space required. More small business and midsized companies can benefit.

Office costs

With office space rental costing anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000 per year, per employee in major US cities, freeing workers from their cubicles can save organizations serious amounts of cash! (Source: Market Watch and TheSquareFoot, 2015 data)

Remote working, including working from home

One of the biggest perks small and medium-sized businesses have in recruiting is flexibility. Indeed lists three top reasons people join new companies — pay and flexibility are the top two. Some people even prefer flexibility of time and location to pay.

Some have even gone the extra mile, and become completely virtual enterprises, with no traditional bricks and mortar office premises. While this will probably remain the exception rather than the rule, there’s no doubt cloud communications and near-ubiquitous broadband is providing unprecedented freedom in where and how we choose to work and live our lives.

You’re in a virtual office?

What’s your favorite part about being dispersed and virtual?