December 13 2016 CollaborationHoliday tips include letting your team work remotely and showing them you appreciate them. The holiday season is finally here. As a small-business owner, you have the double-edged sword of balancing your employees’ need to spend time with their families while ensuring your customers’ needs are met. You don’t want to be a Grinch, but you can’t afford to neglect customers or miss product deliveries. The best strategy is to set up some holiday policies in advance to keep the season merry for everyone. By complementing these policies with affordable and easily accessible cloud technology, your team can enjoy an especially productive holiday season. Use these five holiday tips to prepare your employees for a high volume of customers and product requests, while making sure they also have time to celebrate the holidays: 1. Create Flexibility Start by letting everyone discuss which days they’d like to take off. One employee may celebrate with their family on Christmas Eve, while another may have a tradition of shopping with her mom every Dec. 26. Sit down with your team and have everyone request specific days that are important for them to have off. You may be surprised at how willing the team is to work together and compromise. Then, make sure everyone has access to the holiday calendar so they can double-check when they’re on the clock. With today’s cloud business tools, employees are able to access calendars anytime and from wherever they happen to be working, so everyone can be on the same page. 2. Offer Remote Work Options When your customers have questions, they want answers ASAP. Offering remote work options is one way you can accommodate your employees’ holiday obligations while ensuring your customers aren’t left hanging. For instance, cloud-based mobile technology allows employees to use their business identity to handle customer calls and hide their personal identities, maintaining a consistent business presence when working remotely or on the go. Your employees can work between shopping trips and visiting relatives and your customers will be none the wiser. 3. Provide Easy Access to Your Tools Working remotely sounds like a great idea until you can’t access the software and apps you need to get your work done. Many companies are accessing unified communications tools such as virtual desktops or seamless integration with customer relationship management (CRM) workflows to give them access to the tools they need, even when they’re sitting in a ski lodge with fresh powder on their hats. 4. Plan for Regular Check-Ins Sometimes important meetings can’t wait until after the holidays, yet you already told your team lead he could go visit his grandmother and your star associate left early to wrap presents for a family in need. With the array of video conferencing and other cloud collaboration tools now available, you can set up meetings so everyone can dial in, even if they’re located in three different time zones. 5. Reward Hard Work Balance is hard. Your employees want to do a great job, but also have plenty of other obligations demanding their attention. Make sure you take the time to reward them during these busy days. Maybe it’s a special treat in the break room or gift cards secretly left in their desk drawers. Be sure to include a handwritten note giving your personal thanks as well. By proactively preparing for the holiday rush for both your workload and your employees’ schedules, you can make sure the next few weeks run smoothly. Start with these holiday tips, a good plan and utilize cloud communications tools to make this season as stress-free and merry as possible. Considering writing to Santa to ask for a new business communication system? Visit Vonage Business instead. About Jennifer Goforth Gregory Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Linkedin | Twitter February 1 2013 ArchivesIf you’re anything like me, tomorrow will be spent celebrating Groundhog Day by watching the comedy movie of the same name. For those of you who may not be familiar with the Bill Murray classic, it is about a man who becomes trapped in a day-after-day repetition of the same events, occurring (you guessed it) on Groundhog Day. The only way he’s able to break the cycle is to change aspects of his behavior that had been holding him back – both professionally and personally. Does this sound a little familiar? Do you feel like your day-to-day at work is sometimes spent doing the same thing over and over again, and you wish you could break the cycle and have more time to spend on projects or new accounts? Well, we’ve got some tips on how to use Vocalocity’s small business VoIP phone service to free up some time and help you become a little happier – weatherman or not. CRM Integrations One of the reasons we created the MethodCRM, Microsoft Dynamics and Sugar CRM plugins is because we feel your pain – we know it’s no fun having to wake up at 6:00 AM just to spend the day constantly opening a piece of software and struggling to find your caller’s information each time you need to make a note about a conversation. With each of our CRM plugins, your preferred CRM will actually launch with each and every phone call. It’ll automatically bring up your caller’s information within your preferred CRM system so you can quickly take notes about the call, look up billing history or do whatever else you need to do in order to have a more productive and personalized phone call. For example, when Nancy Taylor calls in, an automatic screen pop can show your “notes” section of the account, reminding you that you sat next to her in Mrs. Walsh’s high school English class and that she signed on as a client after your last reunion. Call Announce Our latest included feature, Call Announce, will actually announce the path of your inbound call once you’ve configured your settings. If you run a music school, you can configure your Virtual Receptionist to have an option dedicated to “New Students” or “Piano Lessons” so your phone can notify you that an incoming caller is hoping to talk about lessons, pricing and availability. 7-Digit Dialing Tired of typing in the same area code, sales call after sales call? With Vocalocity’s 7-Digit Dialing feature, you can actually configure your phone to call out when you enter only the last seven digits of a phone number. It’s perfect for offices that deal exclusively with local business. If you’re a local insurance agent like Ned Ryerson, it’s a great way to quickly and routinely stay connected with local clients without having to follow them down the street. Current customer? Learn how to set up 7-Digit Dialing today. Click to Dial Or, if you’re the type of person who has to make dozens or maybe even hundreds of calls a day, save yourself the effort of pressing that dialpad at all by using the helpful Click to Dial feature. Let’s say you run a bed and breakfast and you’re calling your list of upcoming bookings to confirm their reservation. Instead of dialing each of the 200 numbers on your spreadsheet, you can actually just click their number from your computer and your Vocalocity phone will automatically connect your call. You can download Click to Dial from the product page. If you’re not using these great features you’ve got to charge the opportunity like a bull! Do you have questions about other ways you can use Vocalocity’s small business VoIP phone service to work more effectively? Just leave us a comment below, and we’ll comment back. We got you, babe. * *There are seven hidden Groundhog Day references in this post. If it seems a little confusing, check out the movie! About Dave MorrisDave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan.