Vermont recently passed a law that will provide a hefty incentive to anyone who moves to the state to work remotely for an out-of-state employer. The promise of living in the natural beauty of the Green Mountains, paired with a $10,000 grant, is certainly a compelling offer! But there’s even more to it than first meets the eye…
Remote Working is Here to Stay
First and foremost, Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant Program legitimizes working remotely. They’ve recognized that you don’t necessarily have to be based in a corporate office to work effectively – and they’re investing significant resources into the concept. As long as you’ve got the right tools at your disposal, you could work from anywhere, from Vermont to Versailles.
Attracting a Younger Generation
Another factor that came into play with the Vermont program was the demographics of the state’s existing residents. Their lawmakers knew full well that Vermont is a small state with an aging population, so they tried to think of new ways to entice younger people to live in the state. There’s a lesson here for businesses, too: Offering the ability to work remotely will attract younger “digital natives” who are already accustomed to collaborating online and using mobile devices on a regular basis. (Pairing it with a great incentive doesn’t hurt, either…)
How to Support Your Remote Workers – In Any State!
So, what should you do if one of your employees decides he wants to uproot himself, take the grant, and settle down in Vermont? To put it more generically: what’s the best way to support a remote worker? Here are a few tips for success:
- Establish new ways for employees to share information with each other. There is a whole new world of collaboration tools out there that make it easy to erase the barriers of distance. Internal chat tools with availability status info, one-click videoconferencing, and instant screen sharing are all easily employed today. An added bonus is that these will benefit all of your employees, not just those who are working remotely.
- Be sure to fully train your remote workers on these collaboration tools, so they’ll intuitively know how and when to use each feature. You could consider starting them off with a basic feature set, then migrate them to more advanced capabilities as their comfort level grows.
- Encourage work-life balance. Remember that an employee’s use of mobile devices doesn’t always translate into availability to work. In today’s always-on world, the ability to turn those apps and devices off is also important.
To learn more about these shifts in the modern workplace, check out TPx’s whitepapers on The New Workplace Reality and How the Cloud Stops Tech Tug-of-Wars.
About the Author
Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although she enjoys vacationing in Vermont, she has no plans to leave her home in the greater Boston area.
In our data-intensive, smartphone-laden world, personal communications revolve around texting, emojis, memes and social networking. Using a phone is, well, decidedly passé for some. There are even memes about it. But any business owner knows that voice – actual, real conversation! – remains the lifeline of any going concern.
To keep collaboration on track between employees, partners and customers alike, businesses still need to make voice calls, still need those PBX bells and whistles, still depend on voice conferencing, and still make call-center functionality an essential element of every business day. But these core experiences need not be static and staid. Today, traditional voice services are being delivered in new ways to help businesses better respond to the needs and behaviors of increasingly mobile and socially-connected workforces and customer bases, which are themselves becoming more and more distributed over time.
Here are three ways a future-thinking phone system puts voice front-and-center while supporting converged, digital ways of working:
1. Looping in the Distributed Workforce
It’s anticipated that over the next few years, 50% of all employees will be working remotely, be it from the road or in a static telecommuting configuration, according to Global Workplace Analytics. As for the latter, last year alone, about 3.9 million U.S. employees worked from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005. For those of you feeling calculator-challenged, that’s a 115% increase.
Or consider this: The same study shows that, in more than half of the top U.S. metro areas, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice; and, it’s grown far faster than any other commuting method.
Rather than having employees use their own home or mobile phones to do their jobs, a virtual PBX phone system gives remote workers access to the same office calling features – call forwarding, four-digit dialing, conference bridges, etc. – no matter where they are. This cloud PBX approach delivers the ability to place and receive calls on a VoIP phone, mobile phone or computer (and seamlessly move calls between devices), all using a single business line identity. For managers, this allows for call tracking and other employee management activities, in the same way they manage workers at a corporate location.
In other words, the office can be anywhere – and today, it’s everywhere.
2. Enriched Voice Collaboration
Voice remains a central communication avenue for business, but it also becomes more powerful when it can be used side-by-side with additional modes of collaboration. A virtual PBX can be part of a flexible, feature-rich unified communications (UC) solution which marries voice with a host of powerful features. For instance, presence and instant messaging can be used to know someone’s status, thus improving the chances of reaching someone by phone. Video calls and desktop sharing can be added for enriched conversations. And users can make use of innovative personal collaboration rooms, where you can invite anyone (external or internal) to the conversation.
3. A Better Call Center
When you combine the twin benefits of a better-supported remote workforce and enhanced, converged UC, a virtual phone system can really shine when it comes to call centers.
A cloud-based approach to voice means that customer service agents don’t have to be tied to the main office — they can answer calls in the queue from branch locations or even at home. And agents can leverage the same UC features, like instant messaging and presence, to augment their voice-based customer service activities for increased customer satisfaction. Imagine taking care of an escalation in the background, messaging with a manager, while still keeping the customer engaged on the phone. These kinds of converged activities reduce call times and improve time to resolution, while allowing agents to deliver a more personalized, differentiating touch.
Clearly, upgrading a business phone system from an aging, premises-based PBX is not just an exercise in replacing one phone system with another – it’s an opportunity to do much more, unleashing productivity within an organization.
If you’re ready to supercharge your voice communications, your TPx representative can help you do just that. Our industry-leading, award-winning UC suite provides a business phone system that supports voice in a way that is decidedly future-thinking, cloud-ready and mobile-native. Reach out today to find out how we can help.
“Work” is no longer a place we go, but an activity that we do. Gone are the days when the vast majority of employees made the daily commute to a corporate office, sharing a communal space on a regular basis. Thanks to globalization, working 9 to 5 hasn’t been most employees’ reality for many years. But now those same workers — who used to arrive early or stay late at the office to get all their work done — are pushing the boundaries of where, when, and how they work.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, remote workers don’t spend so much time in their home offices that they lose all their social skills and never see the light of day; nor are they all “road warriors” dashing from the plane to an Uber to the hotel. Today’s remote workers are more likely to spend part of their time in the office and the rest of it juggling work and home life. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, the average remote worker is a 49-year-old college graduate who works for a company of more than 100 employees and earns $58,000 a year. That sounds like it could be just about anybody you know, doesn’t it?
A 2017 Gallup survey had two noteworthy findings: not only are more employees working remotely than ever before, but they’re also doing so more often. The survey of over 15,000 American workers found that 43% have worked off-site at some point in the last year. The figure is even higher — up to 61% — in industries that are more conducive to working remotely, such as finance, real estate, IT, and media. The survey also found a shift in the amount of time employees spend working remotely: the number of employees working remotely less than 1 day a week dropped, while those who work remotely 4 to 5 days a week increased by about the same amount. Needless to say, remote working is here to stay.
If all of this sounds familiar to you, you’ll be interested in TPx’s whitepaper The New Workplace Reality. It’s full of insights on how the “knowledge economy” is redefining the modern workplace. You’ll also learn about the communication and collaboration tools that can support today’s workforce, today.
We may not all be full-fledged road warriors, but we can all benefit from applications that enable us to productively work from anywhere, at any time.
About the Author
Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She typically works from the TPx office in Waltham, MA, but sometimes works from her home office (a.k.a. the kitchen table) too.