05 Aug 2013

Work from home: Making it possible

Mid-market organisations need to be able to act like larger companies in order to compete in a highly competitive marketplace. Increasingly, companies are embracing technologies such as cloud computing, VOIP and video conferencing to improve their responsiveness, support their employees working remotely and expand their businesses.The idea of enabling your workforce to work from home – or from anywhere for that matter – is an appealing one. Research shows that giving employees a better sense of work/ life balance substantially improves productivity and helps to minimise staff turnover in a tight employment market.But it’s not just a matter of flicking a switch and suddenly employees no longer need to come into the office. There are a number of policy and technical challenges that any organisation will need to work through first. Will the end user have adequate performance when connecting into the business network? Will they be able to use their own devices? How will conferencing and presence work? How can the managers ensure security and productivity from the employees working remotely?There are plenty of solutions on the market that can enable an effective work from home culture within an organisation:

Presence

Enabling real time communication – for example Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice – allows the user to take their extension anywhere. The 4 most obvious benefits of presence are:
  • Status Indicators – Anyone using your presence platform can easily see who’s available, the best way to reach them and direct communication accordingly.
  • Better Conferencing Solutions – People can’t always meet face to face. In the UC environment, web conferencing solutions allow you to have in-depth meetings with clients and work associates in real time, reducing travel expenses related to in-person meetings, but in a considerably enhanced way than say, a telephone conference could ever deliver.
  • Instant Messaging – Instant messaging (IM) is among the most popular, and easiest ways to communicate within a business environment. Additionally, the latest versions of IM apps allow users to make phone calls, making business communication more convenient than ever.
  • Conference and Meeting Scheduling – Is easy with Microsoft Office-based Solutions. Many of today’s businesses are deeply integrated with Microsoft office. Presence management within your UC environment allows your business to seamlessly schedule conferencing appointments, and manage business-specific scheduling within the Microsoft platform.

Management

Security can be maintained through effective use of Mobile Application Management tools while at the same time giving the user flexibility with how they want to gain access to their corporate environment. For instance, Windows 7 and 8 now comes with Direct Access (VPN less) to access corporate data making it easy and seamless for your employees to connect to the secure essential data they need.

Collaboration and Productivity

Organisations would do well to provide their employees conference abilities such as LifeSize Clearsea or Microsoft Lync or utilize SharePoint team sites for Document management. These solutions also help to ensure users are efficient and productive when working from home.More than the technology, a work from home culture needs effective policy and communication to work. It represents a fundamental shift in the way the organisation operates – but can result in happier and more efficient and effective employees. Organisations should work with their trusted partners to devise effective change management programs as the technology rolls out.Written by Paul Larkin.
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