Often people ask me to distinguish what makes InterCall great compared to the abundance of other audio conferencing providers in the industry. Why should companies choose to use InterCall when they have a wealth of other options that will connect them at a potentially lower rate? Can something as simple as audio conferencing really vary that much between providers?
Last week, I was attending an important quarterly conference call with several of my co-workers. I was trying to listen closely and take notes, but the sound of heavy breathing was coming through one of the audio lines. I couldn’t concentrate and my frustration started to quickly grow.
I could tell I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as I could also hear the tension in the speaker’s voice. Luckily for us, we were using our proprietary web conferencing platform, InterCall Unified Meeting® to host the call. Audio integration with InterCall Unified Meeting allowed the moderator to easily identify the culpri t and quickly mute his line via the active speaker icon. The call continued to move forward with no further interruptions.
Yesterday my son came home from school with a shiny new iPad. He didn’t win it off a friend at a lunchroom game or cards or marbles. Rather, his new toy was school-provided. Every student in his high school (school size of 200) was issued one for learning purposes. It probably goes without saying that this school is very cutting-edge.
In an email correspondence that went to parents, the school’s educators said that in giving each student an iPad they “intend to prepare their students for the 21st century with a determination to be ahead of the curve in technology.” They go on to say that “the iPad is more than a tool, it is an idea with a world of opportunities for teachers and students to explore and elevate learning anywhere, anytime.”
Then I come to find out that this 8’x10’ gadget that is as thin as a stenographer’s pad is essentially replacing all of my son’s textbooks. “ iPad applications allow students to practice algebra to chemistry with real-time feedback, breaking down the steps to success. Geometry will come to life with 3-D imaging and art and science will explore cross-curricular applications.” Now that sounds like a lot more fun than any text book I ever had.
Whoa! If he doesn’t need textbooks, should I be returning his LL BEAN backpack? What’s next, high school without lockers?
Just like the fate of textbooks (and maybe lockers), our work life as we know it today will be something completely different by the time my son enters the business world. You probably have already seen the infiltration of mobility, and I bet we’re just scratching the surface. In my time at InterCall, I’ve seen the transition from operator assisted conference calls to reservationless conferencing to now being able to participate in a web conference from an iPad. Before you know it, we’ll all be using the camera features on the iPad2, and it will be like we saw on The Jetsons (back in the time when rabbit ears sat on top of your TV and you had to get up off the couch to change the channel).
I wonder what you think. Too far too fast?
According to an article on NewObserver.Com, about 2.5 million people, excluding the self-employed, work from home. And some studies estimate that up to 50 million American workers could easily telecommute to work. It is expected that twice as many public sector employees as private sector workers will telecommute during the next several years.
There’s no doubt that companies of all sizes are increasingly beginning to understand the business value that comes along with remote working environments. New Media Campaigns, a Carrboro-based web development company experienced this first-hand. When confronted with the possibility of losing one of their top website developers, they had two options: 1.) let him go and spend time and money on replacing him or 2.) allow him to telecommute from his out-of-state home. Ultimately, the company chose the latter in order to keep their talented employee. Since this time, they have opened the door for other employees to telecommute and even view the virtual office as the ‘cornerstone of the company’s long-term success.’
Unlike New Media Campaigns, many companies are still skeptical of telecommuting, believing that it will impair the productivity, company culture and work environment. However, if telecommunication is done right, then employees can actually achieve better work performance and quality of life and save the company money. Here are some interesting findings from a recent Cisco survey about their employees:
- Employees spend about 63 percent of their time communicating.
- About 40 percent of its employees are not located in the same city as their manager.
- The average employee telecommutes two days a week.
- About 60 percent of the time saved by telecommuting is spent working, with the balance on personal time.
- Two-thirds of those surveyed said that their work improved.
- Four out of five respondents reported an improved quality of life as a result of telecommuting.
So, what is the key to success? First of all, hiring disciplined and self-sufficient employees is a must so you know they can be trusted to work on their own. Secondly, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with the right remote meeting technology. InterCall’s audio, web and video conferencing solutions make it easy to do just that by providing you with simple and cost-effective solutions to connect with anyone in the world.
How about your company? Do you have success or horror stories about telecommuting to share?
As another year ends and a new one begins, I’m usually motivated to kick it off with a resolution or two. The resolutions usually involve some form of working out/eating healthy, getting organized, trying to save more money, etc. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that way. According to The Daily Press, the top 10 resolutions are: to diet, quit smoking, exercise, quit drinking, stop procrastinating, save money, go to church, wake up early, stop cursing and read the newspaper.
I tend to be super motivated about my resolutions for about a month and then they are quickly forgotten. This year I’m going to try and change it up. In the past, my resolutions have always been targeted more on my personal life and not my professional life. They are also goals that span the entire year. So in 2011, I’m going to focus on making month long, professional resolutions.
In January I’m focusing on starting the year on a positive note. First, and probably most important, I’m planning to spend time recognizing my team and their accomplishments! When we look forward to a new year, it’s usually all about what we are going to do for that year, what we can change, how we can be successful. I think it’s important to reflect on the year that just ended and recognize the amazing accomplishments that made it so successful. My team of 20 is very geographically dispersed, and because I prefer to communicate this type of message live as opposed to in an email, we tend to get creative in how we do this while using our audio and web conferencing services.
I really like to keep the calls fun and active, since this is usually the only time we all get together throughout the year. Two years ago I had each person send me a fact about themselves that no one else knew. I then created polling questions listing the fact and giving five people to choose from. Each of the team members had to guess who the fact was about. It was a quick activity that had some pretty funny outcomes. Last year, I had everyone send in something that they accomplished personally within that year, which ranged from getting married to participating in marathons to moving into a new house and more. I put those facts into the first five slides of the presentation and had them on automatic cycle for the participants to read as they joined the call. This year we’re going to use streaming. All my team members have web cams, so we’ll be able to actually see each other while we’re on the call and can toggle our cameras back and forth depending on who’s presenting at the time. I think it will be great for all of us to put faces and voices together!
So that gets me through January, and I’m vowing to not forget about my resolutions this year. What other monthly professional goals can I set for myself? I’d love to hear what some of you are doing so I can replicate or build off of those. Please comment below! Happy New Year!
Nicole Scheel is the Director of Training, and the “Tips & Training Blogger”. Nicole has been in training with InterCall for eleven years and currently manages our internal and customer training departments, also known as InterCall University. Nicole has her Masters in Training & Development from Roosevelt University. When she’s not training someone, you can find Nicole volunteering in her community.