Support remote and work-at-home users as truly integrated members of the team—at far less cost and carbon footprint.
The regional distributor dramatically reduced real estate costs and boosted performance by allowing sales staff to work from home offices closer to their key customers. During peak season, the online retailer adds temporary work-at-home agents to the automatic call distribution (ACD) strategy, with all the same capabilities as on-site agents. By extending the workplace to the home, the engineering firm was able to retain the valued expertise of skilled staff members who had disabilities, young children or elders at home. Deploying straightforward, readily available telecommunications technology, the federal agency was able to meet government mandates for reducing its carbon footprint.
All of these scenarios are today’s realities. Telecommuting is a good idea whose time has arrived. Telecommuting eliminates the high cost of commuting—as well as the costs of maintaining conventional office space. It increases employee satisfaction and reduces absenteeism. It enables organizations to better serve customers across time zones at minimum cost. Telecommuting options are powerful recruiting incentives for caregivers, the disabled and people living in remote areas.
In spite of all the benefits of telecommuting, few organizations take advantage. “While less than 5 percent of the U.S. workforce currently work from home, 40 percent have jobs that would allow them to telecommute,” wrote Tom Harnish in “Tell the Middle East to Pound Sand” (www.Undress4Success.com, retrieved 11-28-08). “If they did, according to our study, these new teleworkers could annually save 625 million barrels of oil (roughly equivalent to 80 percent of our gulf oil imports), reduce greenhouse gases by 107 million metric tons of CO2 each year, and save almost $43 billion at the pump (at $3.50/gallon). Each worker individually would save 26 work days and over $800 each year — time and money now wasted commuting.” In a sense, the commuting time saved means a teleworker gets an extra day off every other week, but research consistently confirms that people use that extra time productively instead of for leisure, according to Harnish.
Get The Advantages of Telecommuting For Your Organization
Companies that support telecommuters tend to provide a mobile phone, broadband connection, and a laptop or PC. Only 15 percent of companies go the extra step to bring remote workers into a unified communication system, according to the research and analysis firm, Quocirca. Imagine the edge you would gain by including those home-based workers in four-digit dialing, giving them a full set of calling features and easy call management, just like their office-based counterparts. The physical location of telecommuters should be invisible to callers.
- IP-PBX integration extends full-featured telephone functionality to remote users with IP telephones connected to your private intranet or a managed IP network from a service provider. Telecommuters enjoy the same capabilities as workers in the office, such as simple internal extension dialing, auto-attendant services, a single voice mail system, centralized call center operations and call detail recording.
- Computer-telephony integration (CTI) is particularly useful for telecommuters with high call volumes, such as call center agents. CTI empowers the user’s PC to manage incoming and outgoing call functions (dial, screen, answer, transfer, place on hold, etc.)—and synchronize with the company’s operations, customer relationship management or contact software. Users can control calls, capture customer data and provide superior service.
- IP-based video collaboration enables telecommuters to conduct virtual face-to-face meetings with colleagues and customers at other locations, using two-way audio and video communications with simultaneous file-sharing, application sharing, text messaging and voice calls independent of the video.
- IP User Mobility enables a telecommuter’s identity—his/her directory number with all associated privileges, preferences and features—to follow that user anywhere within the reach of an IP connection, wired or wireless. It is easy to equip telecommuters to perform truly as part of the team using these solutions. Your organization may already have all or most of the required elements in place.
Toshiba IP business communication systems—from the Strata CIX40 for small businesses to the Strata CIX1200 for large enterprises—can all support telecommuting options, such as Toshiba Strata® Net networking for IP-PBX integration and Toshiba Net Phone® for CTI. A Toshiba Strata Media Application Server (MAS) or MicroMAS—the same server that supports your voice mail, automatic call distribution and other applications—can support video collaboration as well. The Toshiba VCS™ solution is already on the server; you only have to activate it by software license.
The right home-office configuration will depend on the telecommuter’s job responsibilities. For instance: All telecommuters will benefit from IP phones, such as Toshiba Strata IP 5000-series telephones or SoftIPT soft phones, for cost-effective remote connectivity over IP connections.
- Most, if not all, telecommuters will need a laptop or desktop computer—such as a Toshiba Tecra®, Qosmio® and Portege® models— to use office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets and email.
- All telecommuters will need a broadband Internet connection to connect to the office and beyond for email, file sharing, text messaging, Voice over IP (VoIP), videoconferencing and Web access.
- Telecommuters whose work relies heavily on meetings should also be equipped for video collaboration, with a digital camera, video card, videoconferencing client software, and microphone/speakers on the laptop or PC.
- Telecommuters who serve as call agents should also be equipped for CTI, with Net Phone software to enable PC management of calls and integration with customer management applications in the office.
The rising cost of energy has made it more desirable than ever to keep commuters off the highways—at home instead of in expensive office space. Get the advantages of telecommuting for your organization.