“Teleworker,” “virtual worker,” “remote worker,” or “telecommuter,” The Landscape Is Progressing

Whether you prefer “teleworker,” “virtual worker,” “remote worker,” or “telecommuter,” each of these terms is likely understood to describe an employee (or contractor) who does not travel to a central office or work place. Instead, it is generally understood that a telecommuter may work from a personal or remote workspace outside of the office. A teleworker in the previous decade or two may have a work environment similar to this:

  • Works from his or her home office
  • Uses a company issued laptop, software, and mobile phone
  • Uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client to connect back to the company servers and files
  • Email is likely the primary mode of communication with other colleagues throughout the day
  • May utilize public instant messaging service like MSN Messenger, Skype, etc. for IM communications

While it’s clear that telecommuting is by no means a new concept, the technologies available today are greatly improving the experience and benefits for companies and individuals alike. Today’s teleworker is not limited to working from a home office. The advent of, and virtually pervasive access to technologies has empowered individuals to not only work outside the office but do so transparently, and often times with high efficiency. Here are a few key technologies that have played a part in empowering teleworkers in recent times:

Pervasive broadband Internet access – Not only do employees have the ability to work from home, but also a coffee shop, hotel room, airport terminal, or almost anywhere there is Internet access. This leads to increased flexibility and availability to get tasks done and communicate with colleagues and clients. Gone are the days when a trip to an out of town conference means an employee will be unavailable the whole time.

Increasingly capable computing platforms – Compared to their predecessors from decades ago, today’s computing platforms, smartphones and tablets included, offer powerful and user friendly tools that empower people to communicate and be productive. With a lot of companies now supporting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies for computers, smartphones, and other devices, this allows the individual to use devices they are comfortable with and may already own.

High speed mobile data networks – Although the computing power is present in mobile devices and tablets, improved high speed mobile data networks allow individuals to connect and collaborate even when a Wi-Fi connection is not available.

User focused designs – With increasing accessibility to technology, companies are designing applications with more consistent and familiar experiences that greatly improve adoption and productivity in both consumer and enterprise scenarios.

Cloud Services – Cloud based services such as Microsoft Office 365 reduce the required infrastructure footprint for businesses and provides teleworkers easy and familiar access to information and applications.

Unified Communications (UC) – In the past, employees may have been accustomed to communications silos. They may pick up a cell phone or desk phone to make a phone call, use a third party service to host a web conference, use a public instant messaging service to have a chat conversation, and possibly book a conference room with expensive and complex video conferencing equipment. Modern UC platforms like Microsoft Lync Server 2013 aim to consolidate the communications silos and give users a consistent experience across communication types (voice, video, IM, conferencing, etc.) and all their devices (desk phone, computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.). This enhances productivity as it gives employees access to information AND people.

Although studies have shown that telecommuting has been on the rise, it is not a silver bullet. Earlier this year, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer required that all remote workers would have to begin reporting to Yahoo offices. While telecommuting shows significant benefits for employees and employers, it is highly reliant on the company culture, job roles, legal environment, and other business factors. Despite this, it is clear that technology is empowering the modern teleworker to work more effectively than they were capable of in the past; regardless of where they work from.

 

Marc Wynter

Lead UC Architect

ConQuest Technology Services

mwynter@conquest247.com

 

May 1, 2014

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Your Office In Your Pocket

Fun fact: your smartphone contains more computing power than the entire Apollo program used to put astronauts on the moon. That kind of power in your pocket means more than just playing Candy Crush: it’s the means by which technology is finally enabling business to move out of the cubicle and into the pocket office revolution—the most disruptive change to work since replaceable parts.

Since the industrial revolution, most business has been conducted in large bureaucratic settings. And there was good reason for that. Managers needed to be physically close to assembly line workers, and later VPs of companies needed to be able to roam cubicles and give out ad hoc assignments.

Information also needed to be centralized and controlled to make sure nothing was lost or stolen. Businesses ran fairly well but individual productivity was certainly held back.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, we were promised a paperless office yet technology wasn’t quite ready to handle the demands of enterprises, governments, or universities. As we all remember, hundreds if not thousands of companies rushed into the “tech bubble” claiming to have made the breakthroughs that would change everything. Almost all of these promises went unfulfilled. The technology just wasn’t there yet.

But today we are experiencing a mobility revolution that is changing the way business is conducted in almost every industry. Technology is finally ready to truly fulfill its promise to improve productivity. Seamless digital communications tools are enabling coworkers scattered around the world to conduct truly global business. Enterprise-level mobile security is enabling workers to brainstorm and collaborate in real time without the fear of data loss.

Some companies are taking advantage of this sea of change while others, slow to adapt, are being left behind or closing up shop.

The pocket office is about more than just mobility. It is a massive disruption of business-as-usual for four big reasons. Embracing the pocket office gives your business:

  • Anytime, anywhere access, seamlessly across all devices
  • Productivity apps that allow for content creation as well as consumption
  • Full compatibility with desktop-based office suite
  • Enterprise level management and security

With these tools businesses both large and small can finally give their employees the ability to work productively from anywhere, anytime. And all with tools that fit in your pocket, talk about a revolution…

Let’s face it, communicating is the one thing we do more than anything else.  We speak with each other either in person or via some mediated technology like telephone, voice, IM, text or even video chat.  We create and send emails.  We produce presentations that we deliver via networked conferencing systems.  More than ever our people are away from the office working from home, hotels, customer sites, ball fields, the beach and a million other places.  The technologies that enable all of this communication must reach farther, be more readily available and also be more secure than ever before. 

No matter what industry you are in, the mobility-enabled pocket office revolution will dramatically change the way you (or your competitors) do business. This is what disruptive change in the workplace looks like: the ability to put the entire means of production into devices the size of your wallet—or that even fit in your wallet.

The mission of ConQuest Technology Services is to provide and support these technologies, constantly improving upon how well we can adapt them to each clients’ requirements, and their future needs to help them identify and innovate new ways in which mediated communication technologies can drive new business opportunities and greater success.

Debbie Brandt

Marketing Manager

ConQuest Technology Services

 

How Does Microsoft’s UC Reduce Communications Costs?

telephoneIn a UC whitepaper from Microsoft, it was mentioned how replacing old PBX systems can significantly reduce telephony costs.

“In the past, there were essentially one or more PBX or Key systems per location, often accompanied by a set of related systems such as voice mail, interactive voice response (IVR), call centers, call accounting and administration consoles. Now with Unified Communications, consolidation of systems to a single or a few locations and systems is very practical, with support of other sites via secure Internet Protocol connections on the enterprise wide area network (WAN) or the Internet. This savings initiative is often very timely, since many PBX and voice mail systems installed in the late 1990’s are nearing the end of manufacturer’s support and decisions must be made in any case. Applying the consolidation model to those decisions will usually yield major savings. The approach is to establish or expand a central platform to which sites can be consolidated and then to progressively consolidate eligible sites to the central platform. Even if some specialized items, such as IVR Lync Mobile Photo collage 2or a complex call center are not ready for consolidation”

Even if a company is not in a position to replace their full PBX systems, Microsoft Lync Server integrates with existing PBX systems through Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) or qualified gateways, and integrates with qualified third-party SIP Trunking Service providers.

See if your IT infrastructure qualifies: http://bit.ly/OGv8Ls

WPC 2012: Looking forward to it!

WPC has so much to offer this year!  Conquest is really excited about attending.

Conquest’s Jon Sastre, President and Ben Tosado, VP of Professional Services are looking forward to engaging with partners, sharing their busines strategies and gaining new insights on upcoming launches.

This past year we’ve enjoyed and have proudly announced the winning of our 2011 Microsoft U.S. Lync  Voice Partner of the Year Award for the Greater Southeast & Mid-Atlantic Districts. We were honored among the top Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology.

Here is an excerpt of the press release written last year:

“What we’re most proud of,” explained Conquest President & CEO Jon J. Sastre, “is that we were at the top of the list of partners that Microsoft chose to partner with.”  Conquest, a long-time locally-based provider of IT services to the South Florida region, was chosen from among a field of national providers with presence in South Florida.  “While we are a local South Florida partner,” continued Sastre, “it’s important to point out that since we embraced Microsoft Lync as our primary offering we have been enjoying growing success throughout not only the Southeast, but well into the Mid-Atlantic District as well.”

Conquest was one of the first Microsoft partners to invest significantly in developing their practice around the Microsoft OCS (Office Communications Server) predecessor to Microsoft Lync introduced back in 2007.  “We could see from its infancy what OCS was going to become,” explains Conquest Vice President of Professional Services Benjamin A. Tosado.  “Lync is the fulfillment of that promise, and we are delivering it to small, medium, and large businesses from Miami up to Washington DC.  It’s very exciting to see that dream realized after years of hard work and investment.”

“We are pleased to present Conquest with this award,” said Jack Braman, Vice President-East Region, Small and Mid-market Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) for Microsoft. “Conquest is seen as a leader in the Southeast Region in the area of voice communications. They show a strong commitment to commercial customers throughout the geography.”

“Conquest Technology Services was chosen by their regional Voice Partner Account Manager as the best company to work with in their category,” added Microsoft Voice Business Development Manager Leigh Rubino.  “We thank them for a great 2011!!  “

We are hopeful to see an award this year for another successful year!

Contact qpuckett@conquest247.com if you would like to arrange to meet Jon Sastre or Ben Tosado at the WPC in Toronto, CA.

Conquest Technology Services

What is Lync Video

LYNC CAPABILITIES

IM & Presence: Give user real-time presence information and enhanced instant messaging (IM) to help them connect more effectively.

Audio, Video & Web conferencing:  Make it easy for users to create, moderate, join ad hoc collaboration sessions and online meetings with external and internal users.  Work together even when time or distance prevents in-person meetings.

Voice: Combine the telephony features of a traditional PBX with rich presence, instant messaging, and conferencing to improve communications and to lower costs.

Mobility: Make communicating easier and more engaging by delivering a single communications experience across PC laptops, browsers, telephones, and mobile phones.

Group Chat: Allow users to have topic-based, multi-party discussions that persists over time, which allows efficient information sharing and discussions as a group.

What is Lync Video