April 19 2017 Digital OfficeStatistics indicate that remote worker productivity is much higher than many realize. When considering whether to allow employees to work from home, business owners often wonder whether remote worker productivity will be sufficient to advance the company’s goals. With no supervisor physically present to ensure the work gets done, how can the company really be sure that its remote workers will be focused on the task at hand? Will the temptation be too great for them to end up just playing Xbox all day? With telecommuting on the rise — Gallup recently estimated that 37 percent of American workers have now worked from home — some business leaders may be concerned about how to best address this growing trend while ensuring productivity doesn’t take a hit. Fortunately, statistical data indicates that remote workers can often be incredibly productive and satisfied at work, sometimes even more so than their in-office counterparts. Companies may be able to reap the benefits that work-from-home arrangements deliver for the four following reasons: 1. Fewer Interruptions Mean Greater Focus According to a recent survey from TINYpulse, 91 percent of teleworkers report they are more productive when working remotely. With fewer interruptions throughout the workday, they can settle into a state of sustained concentration and work more effectively on their projects. Compare this with the traditional office setting where, according to The Washington Post, each office worker is interrupted or switches tasks every three minutes and then requires an additional 23 minutes to regain their focus. This de facto interruption culture can negatively affect the morale of office workers, who might mutter into their cups of coffee about how they can’t get a moment’s peace. This is not so with teleworkers, however, who may enjoy a greater ability to concentrate on their work and tend to make the most of it. Additionally, a flexible working environment and increased autonomy help workers optimize their productivity. Teleworkers may be able to arrange their tasks in a way they find most effective, cycling through their to-do lists with ease. Although it is true that telecommuting newbies working from home must contend with distractions in their environment and learn the ropes of working well in that setting, by and large, they are able to stay on top of their work and meet deadlines. 2. Remote Workers Understand the Importance of Collaboration Perhaps partly because they are not located in an office where collaboration opportunities are automatically woven into the workday, many employees who work from home understand the importance of proactive collaboration and accountability as active team members. Remote workers say that they regularly stay in touch with their supervisors, if on a somewhat less-frequent basis. A generous 34 percent of respondents to the TINYpulse survey report that they are in touch with their supervisor once a week, while 31 percent say that they check in once per day and 21 percent note that they check in multiple times per day. This actually lines up pretty well with how frequently most remote workers say they would prefer to be in touch, so it appears they may be satisfied with this arrangement. Remote worker productivity is typically highest in cases when both the supervisor and employee have a clear, shared understanding of what needs to get done and fewer check-ins are needed to keep the work moving. Interestingly, 92 percent of teleworkers say they are happy with the way they receive feedback from their supervisors, so it seems both remote workers and their bosses are communicating effectively in this setting and likely use a variety of tools to do so, from video conferencing to email. 3. Remote Workers Feel More Valued at Work When employees have the ability to work from home, they may be able to more comfortably balance their professional and personal obligations. For example, parents might find it easier to get their children to doctor’s appointments and caregivers may be better able to tend to older relatives. When employees experience greater independence and improved work-life balance, they typically report higher levels of employee satisfaction. According to the TINYpulse survey, teleworkers say they are happier at work compared to their in-office colleagues. They frequently also feel more valued at work. Increased job satisfaction contributes to greater employee retention in the long run. Employers, who know well that it costs more to hire and train a new employee than it does to retain an existing one, should find this metric attractive when considering their ability to keep top talent and preserve their budget. 4. Inclement Weather Isn’t an Obstacle Companies offering teleworking programs may be able to stay productive in the event of inclement weather, since nothing prevents employees from taking care of their work safely from home, even if a storm is raging outside or the public transit system is experiencing issues. This reduces liability for the company while simultaneously creating opportunities for productivity that simply did not exist before. Yes, teleworkers are going to have to stay home and actually work on those TPS reports instead of running outside to pelt their friends with snowballs during a major snowstorm. However, those same employees will likely appreciate not having to experience the frustration (not to mention wasted time) involved with a difficult or treacherous commute. Instead of bundling up and trudging out into the elements, they can simply make a cup of hot cocoa, sit down, and get to work. Teleworking may be a new frontier for some companies, but it’s one that may offer significant promise in the form of greater productivity, increased job satisfaction, and more proactive communication among staff. Company decision-makers who have not yet explored the benefits of allowing their employees to work from home might find that it is not only worth their while, but also takes their business to a whole new level. Find out how Vonage Business can work with your organization to boost company-wide productivity. About Rose de Fremery Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer and technologist. She is the former Managing Editor of The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first and only print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. Rose currently blogs about business IT topics including VoIP, UC, CRM, business innovation, and telework for Ziff-Davis as well as HP’s Tektonika program, HP Innovation Journal, HP Channel, Intel, and Vonage’s content marketing program. Twitter April 14 2017 Industry TrendsIs the virtual workforce right for your organization? Virtual offices are extremely popular right now, and for many good reasons. For one, a virtual workforce can be a powerful talent recruitment tool. It’s not uncommon for top performers to rank telework as high or even higher than salary when listing their priorities, and teleworking aids recruitment further by opening up the talent pool to candidates located throughout the country. Working from home has been known to increase employee job satisfaction, boost productivity, and lower turnover costs. Virtual offices are also often cheaper to run, as they require lower overhead costs associated with office space and utilities. And there are many other tangible benefits of having an intangible office. However, being a virtual company isn’t yet a perfect fit for all companies or industries. Here’s how to determine whether it’s right for your business: Can Your Business Thrive with a Virtual Office? Some businesses flourish with a virtual workforce, while others may face challenges in adopting such a model. Certain industries, such as health care and IT, have found that telecommuting is an excellent fit for their needs. It allows employees such as engineers or developers to enjoy greater productivity while working on their own. These are professions that require strong attention to detail and might be significantly hindered by distractions in the office, such as overly chatty colleagues. Virtual offices do a great job of future-proofing startups and small businesses, who tend to find the flexibility and low cost especially helpful at that stage of their growth. Larger businesses are also capitalizing on virtual offices more often, particularly when starting branches in new locations. Businesses with a significant creative function often find that a virtual office is a good match for them, as there is less of a need for face-to-face conversations or in-person review of a physical work product. Marketing organizations in particular tend to thrive in a virtual setting for this reason. When it comes time to compare notes with colleagues, virtually located professionals can take advantage of conferencing and collaboration technology that allows them to share their screens with one another and join a conference on demand. Sales, IT, project management, administrative, customer service, and education or training roles also tend to thrive in a virtual office since it supports independent work especially well. In those cases, any internal collaboration needs that employees have can be met with cloud-based unified communications services that enable them to message or exchange files with one another throughout the workday. However, businesses or specific business units that require a great deal of in-person customer service or team collaboration may decide that a virtual office doesn’t quite fit the bill where those activities are concerned. They may still rely on a physical office or a combination of traditional and virtual office settings to do their work. What to Keep in Mind When Setting Up a Virtual Office If your business decides to set up a virtual office, there are a few steps and precautions you should take in order to ensure a smooth transition. First and foremost, it will be essential to have a clear and well-communicated teleworking policy in place before launching the virtual office. This policy should cover several aspects of the teleworking arrangement, including the following: A clear explanation of the criteria determining how teleworking privileges will be granted A description of how many days per week or month will be worked in the office versus a remote location An outline of teleworking employees’ general working hours An overview of the business’s expectations of remote workers It’s also important to make sure that as teleworking gets underway at the company, staff members understand the performance goals they must achieve in their new virtual office environment. Most businesses find that when a significant percentage of their employees work remotely, managers concern themselves less with the amount of time their staff spends working than the actual results they achieve. Even so, supervisors may find that it’s a bit of an adjustment to oversee their staff when they’re no longer physically located together in the same brick-and-mortar office, so they should make sure they have the training they need to properly carry out their responsibilities in this regard. Teleworking employees often report they are more productive when working from home. Terrific as that may be, teleworkers can sometimes feel isolated from the life of the company when working alone. Some businesses address this concern by proactively arranging regularly scheduled virtual events or meetings in which the staff or various teams share information about what is happening at the business, or they create virtual water cooler spaces where employees can engage in the same kind of casual workplace banter they would at a traditional office. Others secure co-working space for some of their employees so they still have the benefit of social interaction as well as networking and professional events where they may make useful contacts or engage in professional development that benefits the company. A virtual office can be a great benefit to many types of companies of various industries, sizes, workforce configurations, and geographic locations. If your company has been looking for ways to cut costs, improve employee job satisfaction, and boost productivity, it might be worth considering the benefits a virtual workforce may offer. While it isn’t a fit for each and every business, teleworking can be a major asset to the companies that do choose to offer it. Contact Vonage Business to learn more about how cloud-based communications can help your company. About Rose de Fremery Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer and technologist. She is the former Managing Editor of The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first and only print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. Rose currently blogs about business IT topics including VoIP, UC, CRM, business innovation, and telework for Ziff-Davis as well as HP’s Tektonika program, HP Innovation Journal, HP Channel, Intel, and Vonage’s content marketing program. Twitter August 12 2013 ArchivesWhether you find yourself relaxing with friends and family this Summer or the unfortunate victim of a weather event, it’s great to know that with the flexibility Vocalocity provides, you’ll never be out of touch. Here are a few of the features that make staying connected on-the-go easier than ever. Never Miss a Call Vocalocity business VoIP phone service includes a ‘Never Miss a Call’ feature, which allows you to decide how your incoming calls are handled. Calls can be automatically routed or forwarded to different locations such as a voicemail account, a mobile phone or any other phone number. You can even set it to simultaneously ring these other devices. Check out this quick article to set up this feature and visit your Vocalocity user portal to make updates at my.vonagebusiness.com. Plug and Play Cloud VoIP Technology All of our phones are plug and play, meaning that you can just unplug your phone from your regular office and take it with you. Just plug it in to any broadband Internet jack and you’ll have the same professional appearance from anywhere – across town or around the world! Vocalocity Mobile VoIP If you are unable to bring your office phone to your current location or power loss causes your computer not to work, you can use our mobile application to manage many features directly from your Android or iPhone. Make calls with the caller ID of your business line so you still look professional and don’t have to give out your mobile number. You can also access voicemail or listen to calls you have recorded with the Vocalocity mobile app. Click here to download the mobile app to your device, or just search your App Store or Marketplace for “Vocalocity.” To see the complete list of free features included with your extension, click here. Share these tips with other businesses and earn up to $2,500 for each new company that takes advantage of switching to Vocalocity, the best phone system for business. Simply telling others about Vocalocity can mean a great special for them and a nice bonus for you. About Chris RabbuChris Rabbu is the Vice President of Marketing, Lead Generation at Vonage Business Solutions, the fastest growing provider of cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems for business. He resides in Atlanta, GA and is working on his tennis serve when not dreaming up ridiculously effective marketing campaigns. March 8 2012 ArchivesOne of the perceived issues with teleworking is productivity – how do you know that your employees are actually fulfilling the “work” part of “work from home?” Back in September 2011, our own Melissa Levine spoke at the Clean Air Campaign’s Telework Summit here in Atlanta, and fielded questions from the audience about productivity and employee oversight. While the other panelists mostly agreed that it was up to employers to individually decide which metrics and benchmarks would best track off-site employee performance, Melissa was able to speak to Vocalocity’s Online Admin Portal and Dashboard. These free tools give managers and employers more detailed insight into employees’ phone activity. Here are just a few benefits of our online access features: Because VoIP is a digital technology, you’re better able to track and report on phone logs than you ever could with analog phone systems. Our Online Portal gives account owners complete visibility into account history and Dashboard allows visibility into every extension in a phone system so that business owners can check in on call volumes, current call activity, and more. And coming later this spring, we’re actually launching a redesign of our Admin Portal so that it’ll be easier than ever before to use. And from an employee perspective, accessing all of Vocalocity’s VoIP features means that even when you’re working from home, you always have 100% access to your utilities. For example, I have a feature called “On Demand Call Recording” on my phone line. Last week, I recorded an interview with someone and it saved in my account. Then, a few days later, I found myself working from home and needed to access the recording to transcribe it. No worries! I just logged into my.vonagebusiness.com and quickly downloaded my call recording from “My Recordings.” I was able to access all of my information without any delay which meant that I transcribed the voicemail and was able to finish my project that same day. Within the Online Portal, I can also change my Never Miss a Call settings, manage my active device, listen to voicemail and so much more. It’s a great utility for both business owners and employees to stay connected and make the most out of the teleworking experience. March 6 2012 ArchivesWelcome to Day Two of Teleworking Week! I’m coming to you live from my local coffee shop where I’m getting work done from my laptop and my iPhone. A few months ago, we launched our FREE iPhone and Android applications for Vocalocity customers and so far it has helped me stay connected even more than I ever anticipated. Since I downloaded our VoIP iPhone app, I’ve always had the Never Miss a Call settings enabled to “Follow Me.” I’ve customized my “Follow Me” settings to ring my desk phone for 15 seconds, and then activate my cell phone to ring for 30 seconds. If I don’t answer, the call goes straight to voicemail. I love this setting because if I’m at my desk, I’m quickly able to grab the phone and have a conversation. But if I’m in a meeting, at lunch, or on the other side of the building, I can still stay connected through my cell phone. And if I’m nowhere near the office, I can always check my voicemails directly through the mobile app. For example, as I was walking to the coffee shop from my house this morning, I got a business call on my phone and was able to answer immediately. Some other scenarios I’ve encountered where this has been useful are: Sitting in traffic and worried that I’d be late to call in for a conference call Waiting for my flight at the airport and killing time by tying up some loose ends on a project Coordinating with a professional contact located in California – they’re three hours behind us here in Atlanta, and I could still take the call from my home, while looking as though I was calling from my desk phone (even though it was 7:30 PM). Vocalocity Mobile is great for times when you know you’ll be away from your desk and for unexpected events when you just need to stay connected. And best of all? It’s FREE. I don’t use it all the time as my primary method of staying connected over the phone, but when I consider the amount of work I’ve been able to accomplish by never missing calls or having to play phone tag, the productivity adds up to a real value. Already a Vocalocity customer? Want to try Vocalocity Mobile for yourself? Visit the product page for fast links to the App Store and Android Market.