A friend recently decided to take an extended cross-country trip with his family. Faced with a demanding work load and colleagues who depended on him, he decided the only way to pull it off was to go virtual office from his RV. Equipped with two wireless providers, and a suite of unified communications and connectivity tools, they set off on their adventure. Luckily his company had recently changed to a new communications and network service provider that not only had a full suite of UC tools but offered it in a self-service environment that seamlessly connected all of his communications, including voice/phone, video, presence, IM/chat, SMS/text and web collaboration. It also worked on all his mobile devices so he wasn’t tethered to a PC and could roam freely with his mobile phone or tablet.
Doing video calls with majestic backdrops his new work environment quickly created a buzz with his co-workers and customers. To his surprise, he found staying connected and actively participating in meetings wasn’t only easy; at times he was more accessible than his hard-wired comrades. His boss, customers and teammates from other departments began relying on him to be more responsive and available than anyone else. Aside from a few side trips to remote areas with spotty WiFi or mobile data coverage, he was able to remain connected and on top of everything and enjoyed a great adventure with his family during the evenings and weekends when he purposely unplugged from work.
An anytime, anywhere office
In today’s world of modern “open” offices – where fluorescent lighting and distracting fish bowl conference rooms leave you nowhere to hide, find some peace and quiet, or engage in deep strategic thinking or focus – there’s something to be said for the anytime, anywhere mobile UC powered virtual office. Aside from saying goodbye to rush hour traffic and increasingly long commutes, mobile workers often find themselves more productive and happier working virtually than in a busy, noisy office.
It’s no wonder that what started out as a niche trend has turned into a full-fledged work/life balance movement. In fact, the mobile/virtual workforce is rapidly approaching a tipping point, with research indicating that by 2022, 60% of today’s office-bound employees are expected to be working remotely. If you’ve ever wondered why there is so much talk about digital transformation, you need look no further than this.
Digital nomads empowered by unified communications
There are a number of other emerging trends fostering this movement, including corporate cultural acceptance, advancements in and ubiquity of enabling technologies (UCaaS, 4G, WiFi) and the emergence of digital nomads who are monetizing the shift. Growth minded companies are responding by revising their telecommuting and remote/home office polices, increasing flexible work policies and making it easier for employees to work remotely.
This trend has shown positive effects on employee satisfaction and employers save money on the cost of maintaining physical work spaces. Which results in a win-win situation for everyone.
It’s not as if people haven’t tried to make this work before. The difference today is the dramatic improvement in technology to enable virtual workers. Kudos to smartphones, which really got things moving. But huge advances in unified communications solutions are equally important. In particular, cloud-based UCaaS solutions that can be accessed from anywhere on any connected device, have turned the volume up from ten to “eleven.” High-def audio, video and content sharing services are no longer reserved for larger enterprise companies with high-end conference room systems.
Companies like Zoom and Windstream Enterprise have partnered to deliver solutions that can be leveraged from desktop, mobile and tablets over any broadband connection capable of supporting minimum bandwidth and latency requirements. Remote access and security have also advanced with easier to use VPNs, remote desktop services coupled with two factor authentication and single sign on capabilities. Phone systems are no longer tethered to a black box with blinking lights in the back room of the office or data center. In fact, office phones themselves, are no longer an office necessity with the advent of the softphone (app) and mobile twinning of devices.
Behind every great virtual worker stands a great virtual service provider
It makes me proud to say that the day is finally here where this author (a veteran of a good many years in the business communications space) can claim that remote workers no longer have a technology handicap compared to their office bound, hard wired colleagues. In fact, some might say they have an advantage.
Companies less prone to digital transformation that haven’t yet made the cultural and technology changes necessary to enable digital nomads and remote work lifestyle are going to quickly find themselves out-paced by their leaner, more agile, anytime, anywhere rivals. My advice: partner with technology companies who can not only enable remote workers but empower them in a way that allows immersive engagement and connectivity across all their communications channels.
If you already use Skype for Business or other tools that aren’t making the grade because of quality of service, concerns about customer experience issues or lack of seamless integration with your platform, it’s important to know there are better options from companies like Windstream that not only offer easy to use, cloud-based software solutions, but ALSO the adjacent voice and data connectivity solutions required to make it all work together reliably and efficiently. A few years ago, that combination didn’t seem to matter as much. But take it from my friend living the life in his Airstream camper, it works like magic today. Give us a call and set up a live demo to see for yourself.
Scott Yelton is head of product management for OfficeSuite UC® at Windstream Enterprise, where he is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for the company’s leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both Earthlink and Deltacom, where he had also led sales Engineering. He began his career in telecom in sales and sales management roles for Sprint and BTI Communications. Scott is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in marketing and management.
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