How to Work From Home and Look Good Doing It

In the last decade, the mobile workforce has increased by more than 100 percent—not that surprising when we consider the abundant improvement in technology over that same time period. Telecommuting offers wonderful benefits to companies and workers alike, with an improved work-life balance topping the charts. Not only that, but a 2015 Gallup poll shows that telecommuters are more likely to be more engaged in their jobs, and being engaged can lead to higher profitability, mobile productivity, customer engagement and other positive business outcomes.

How to work from home FI

But mobile teams experience problems of their own. At the forefront is the disconnection that naturally occurs when team members work separate from the rest of the team. Not only do telecommuters sometimes miss out on deeper relationships with co-workers, they don’t get to experience office culture and can easily miss important announcements. A case study conducted among full-time telecommuters at a Chinese travel agency even showed that mobile workers were up to 50 percent less likely to receive promotions.

If you’re part of the mobile workforce, here are some things you can do to make your experience as successful as possible:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate—While telecommuters often make their own schedules—using two hours for lunch (and making it up later) or taking a break to pick up kids from school, for example—it’s important to let your team know when you’ll be away from your desk for any extended period of time. That way, they’ll know when you’ll be back in case they have anything pressing. Teams work better when members know what to expect of each other.
  • Always meet your deadlines—This should go without saying, but it’s important to make sure you aren’t slacking off. According to the aforementioned Gallup poll, work-from-home productivity is at least as good as in-office productivity, if not better. Don’t be the one that causes your boss or co-workers to lose faith in the system.
  • Use all technology available—While email certainly has its place, other technology—such as instant messaging, conferencing, etc.—helps you connect with team members in the moment. Because you don’t have the ability to stop by a co-worker’s desk or see team members at the water cooler, you should take any opportunity you can to create conversations and collaboration when appropriate.
  • Regularly visit or work in the office—Many remote workers do not live close enough to visit the office weekly, but—depending on your role—regular time spent in the office is crucial to team cohesion. You and your manager will need to discuss how often is “enough,” but you’d be amazed how much it helps to show your face every once in a while. When co-workers have spent time with you in person, it makes it easier for them to approach you online or via phone when they need to chat about an issue or project.
  • Build relationships with co-workers who can keep you informed—Even if you visit the office on occasion, you’ll probably miss out on some news or information when you aren’t there. Check in regularly with office friends who will gladly keep you apprised of anything important—even a shift in the office culture or mood.

But being successful isn’t just up to the mobile workforce. Companies can help their telecommuters stay more engaged with the whole team by instituting proper training, using collaboration software that allows for file sharing and ensuring proper security on mobile devices so mobile teams have the same access as everyone else, no matter where they’re working. In addition, scheduling regular videoconferences ensures face-to-face time, which can go a long way in a telecommuting situation. When telecommuters feel like part of the team, they’re more likely to stay content and engaged in their job—a fact that benefits everyone involved.

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Contact the Atidan team at office365@atidan.com for additional information about our unified communications solutions and cloud services.

Blog credit to Microsoft https://blogs.office.com/2016/03/03/how-to-work-from-home-and-look-good/

 

 

 

8 Features You Didn’t Know You Needed for Online Meetings

When it comes to business communication, face-to-face meetings are always a popular pick. But with company branches scattered across the country—and often, the world—virtual meetings are becoming a frequent choice. Not only can online collaboration save time, but money as well. In fact, according to Verizon Conferencing, virtual meetings between five or more people are at least seven times less expensive than face-to-face meetings that require travel. That’s why every organization, whether small or large, should invest in reliable virtual meeting software.

Features for Online Meetings

There are several free options available today, but in order to have the best online collaboration possible, companies should look for providers offering a rich selection of features. Many believe they’ll be just fine with decent picture and sound, but having a variety of impressive features can make all the difference between effective virtual meetings and those that are a waste of time.

Here are eight features you should keep in mind when selecting virtual meeting software:

  1. HD video—Because your virtual meetings are replacing face-to-face meetings within your organization and/or with clients, it’s important that your meeting software includes high-definition video that will allow for the best picture possible. Look for virtual meeting software that provides a video resolution of at least 1080p. Being able to see participants on the other side will encourage dialogue and true collaboration.
  2. Quality microphone—Just as you’ll want high-quality video, it’s imperative to have access to reliable audio during virtual meetings. Online collaboration will be boosted when everyone can clearly hear what is being said.
  3. Security compliance—While web conferencing may not be the most likely target of a cyber-attack, it’s still a good idea to select an online meeting service that offers a secure solution. Such a solution should include authentication and encryption, end-to-end regulatory compliance and consolidated management.
  4. Tech support—It doesn’t matter where your team members are located or what type of device they are using—things can go wrong. And when they do, it’s in everyone’s best interests to have a virtual meeting software provider that can support your team and get things fixed ASAP.
  5. Content sharing—At some point, most online meeting presenters will want to share documents, applications, webpages, software or other visuals with the group. Select virtual meeting software that allows presenters to share their screens (or portion of their screens), as well as delegate control to other meeting participants.
  6. Recording and playback—In today’s business world where busy professionals attend more than 60 meetings per month, it’s common for at least one person—if not several—to miss a meeting. Recording and playback features make it simple for these team members to catch up on what they missed without wasting anyone else’s time. In addition, online collaboration can be saved for archiving purposes.
  7. Dial-in conferencing services—One reason for video or web conferencing is to maintain the visual aspect that’s appealing in face-to-face settings. However, some meeting participants may be traveling or on the go during the meeting, making a dial-in feature imperative. This feature gives participants the option to call into the meeting via their phone.
  8. Polling—When you are holding an especially large online meeting, it’s not possible to hear ideas from everyone. But taking a quick poll is a great way to solicit audience feedback, increase participation and keep your audience engaged.

If your organization is looking for the best alternative to face-to-face meetings, search for an online meeting service that provides a large range of features, including the eight listed above. Keep in mind your goals for online collaboration—which may include everything from increased productivity to decreased costs, a heightened sense of camaraderie among employees and more—and ensure that any service you engage will allow your organization to achieve these goals.

 

Contact the Atidan team at office365@atidan.com for more information about our Cloud Services and unified communication solutions.

Credit to Microsoft: https://blogs.office.com/2016/02/16/features-you-need-for-online-meetings/

 

Eight Ways to Successfully Lead Your Mobile Workforce

For many of us, the rise of the remote workforce comes as no surprise. For years now, office workers have been abandoning their desks in favor of settings that are farther afield and allow them to work in a more comfortable, and often more productive, environment. And it’s a trend that only promises to keep growing. In fact, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the U.S. mobile worker population is on track to grow from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020. And by the end of the forecast period, IDC projects that mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3 percent) of the total U.S. workforce.

Eight ways

Although the mobile workforce has been building for some time, managers are, in many ways, still catching up and trying to determine how best to lead their teams when they’re not only not in the same room, but may be spread out over a number of cities, states or even countries. However, because so many organizations have used a remote workforce model for so many years now, and technology has moved ahead by leaps and bounds, leading remote teams is certainly easier than in years past. Of course, finding your own path to successful leadership will largely depend on your personal style, corporate culture and team members, but if you don’t know where to start or would like to add new techniques and technology to your bag of tricks, you would do well to try these time-tested tips:

  1. Manage results, not style—Remote employees often have their own style of working. Some may work for two hours, then take a break to take their kids to school or run an errand, then work four more hours, take a break and work the remaining two (or more) later, while others may keep regular office hours. So instead of managing how an employee gets his or her work done, focus on the quality of the work, whether deadlines are being met, whether they exhibit good decision-making skills, etc.
  2. Encourage teamwork—Working great distances from your co-workers can feel isolating, so make a point to encourage project work that allows team members to work together. This way, your staff will feel more connected to each other, and your department will benefit from shared ideas and greater communication between team members.
  3. Communicate—Because you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk or grab a cup of coffee in the break room, managers need to take initiative to establish relationships with their teams. Weekly or bi-weekly status calls can often help you address upcoming projects, performance issues, etc. Yet, other times an instant message or email conversation (that may or may not be work related) might be the best way to stay in touch. Whatever your approach is, be clear in your communications—but also let your personality shine through. After all, when you’re building and managing a team it’s important for everyone to know who they’re working with.
  4. Host web meetings (with video)—With everyone’s camera up and a shared view of your agenda, presentation, etc., your team can not only see each other—and put faces to names—but see the presenter’s desktop and get a clear picture of the information being addressed.
  5. Give them the right technology—Part of being a good manager is ensuring that your team members have everything they need to work efficiently. And when your workforce works remotely, that means supporting your staff with the right technology. When researching your options, look for software that makes sharing files safe, secure and simple; works on a range of devices, including laptops and desktops, tablets and mobile phones; and gives your workers the power to work on the same documents simultaneously. This way, everyone will have access to the same tools, you can mitigate compatibility issues, and your collaborative efforts can flourish.
  6. Give them a reason—Remote workers can feel disconnected from an organization’s goals and may not have a clear understanding of where their work fits into its mission. If you share the company’s vision and goals with your remote workforce and address how their work contributes to the success of the organization, your team will feel less detached from the company. This, in turn, inspires remote teams to work toward a common goal and be productive members of the organization.
  7. Be inclusive and provide praise—When it comes to training, praise for a job well done, and parties, offsite employees are often overlooked or simply forgotten about—which does nothing to encourage loyalty or foster relationships. As you manage your team of remote workers, try to ensure that they have the same opportunities for training as others and receive the same, prompt praise for a job well done that you would offer onsite workers. As for parties and team outings, if remote team members can’t make it to an event, consider giving them a small gift or a few extra hours off in a week. It’s a small gesture, but it can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated.
  8. Encourage a work-life balance—For remote workers, it’s easy to get caught up in a project or want to make just a little more progress on something before calling it quits for the day. It’s also equally easy to get distracted by projects at home, spouses, kids, pets, etc. The key is to strike a balance between the two. When onboarding new remote workers, talk to them about setting a schedule that they can stick to and setting aside a space designated for work only. Then, at the end of the day, they can shut down their laptops and disconnect from work. This will help them mentally unwind and enjoy their downtime, and start work with a clear head and a fresh perspective the next day.

Finally, as with most things in life, you must lead by example. By taking a proactive, transparent approach to work, being available to your teams and communicating clearly and often with staff in a wide variety of ways, they’ll see that you can not only be relied on, but trusted. They’ll see firsthand how you want the team to function and will follow your footsteps—helping you create a supportive virtual environment that’s conducive to mobile productivity and exemplary work.

For more information about our collaboration and mobile solutions please contact us at sales@atidan.com

 

Credit to Microsoft https://blogs.office.com/2016/01/13/successfully-lead-your-mobile-workforce/

 

 

 

Communication Powered Productivity – New Office 365 Plan Launch

Microsoft and Atidan believe that the heart of productivity is great teamwork, and the heart of great teams is great communication. Productivity today is centered on conversations—sometimes a quick instant message or call, and sometimes a meeting planned in advance including voice, video and content sharing.

With many different avenues of communication, people need tools that allow them flexibility in how they connect. For years, consumers have embraced new ways of communicating, turning “Skype” into a verb synonymous with video calling. But corporate telephony, including PBX systems, and audio and video conferencing systems, has lagged behind—until now. Having Skype for Business as an integrated part of the work people are already doing in Office means greater continuity as they collaborate and communicate throughout their day.

Built on the familiar Skype user interface, Skype for Business makes connecting with colleagues as easy and intuitive as connecting with friends and family on Skype. With the new services, Skype for Business gets even better, for organizations and their people:

  • PSTN Conferencing provides the flexibility to dial in to a meeting from a traditional phone, in addition to the existing ability to join a meeting with a single click on your PC or mobile device.
  • Skype Meeting Broadcast makes it easier than ever to produce large virtual meetings for up to 10,000 meeting attendees, who can join from virtually any browser or device (see it in action). Now Skype for Business truly is a single platform for every type of meeting.
  • Cloud PBX enables companies to eliminate separate PBX systems and transition to the cloud with Office 365 as the central location to manage users for communication and
  • With PSTN Calling, Office 365 customers can also subscribe to Microsoft managed calling plans and phone numbers, starting in the U.S. with more markets coming later.

Watch this video to learn more about how the new Skype for Business capabilities can benefit your organization.

Simplify your infrastructure, lower your costs and empower your people

Microsoft is the only company that has built this combination of capabilities—a cloud business phone system including dial tone, and a complete meetings solution including audio, video, content sharing and messaging service—as a core part of a complete productivity and collaboration suite, available across mobile platforms and at a global scale.

Today, over half of our business customers are currently paying for multiple conferencing solutions, and many are still using legacy PBX phone systems. Now they can simplify their infrastructure with one cloud platform for meetings and voice, ultimately reducing the cost, complexity and effort of maintaining legacy phone and conferencing systems.

But it’s about more than saving money. People spend nearly a third of their time at work in meetings, yet only 18 percent of information workers actively use conferencing tools that enable rich experiences like video and content sharing. When you consider that nonverbal signals account for nearly 90 percent of the messages we receive during interpersonal communication, it’s clear that moving to modern communication tools can have a dramatic impact on productivity and collaboration.

Office 365 brings significant new value 1

Desktop sharing during a Skype for Business meeting.

A rich partner ecosystem

As we release these new capabilities in Office 365, partners like Atidan will play an integral role in extending the value of our new services.

We also partner with telco operators who provide secure, high-quality network connectivity and managed services that help customers get the best experience with the new Skype for Business services. These partners include BT Global Services, Orange Business Services, SoftBank, TATA Communications and Telstra.

Key partners like Polycom are delivering innovative new solutions for audio conferencing including the Polycom® RealPresence Trio™ for groups, and Polycom® VVX® desktop phones, which are the first phones qualified for the new Skype for Business services in Office 365.

Application partners like Genesys are also building on our platform to deliver solutions like contact center applications that work with Skype for Business and Office 365.

Deeper value from security and analytics

In addition to the Skype for Business capabilities, we’re releasing new security and data analytics capabilities in Office 365, including:

  • Delve Analytics—Empowers individuals through rich dashboards that provide insights on time and relationships, with the goal of helping individuals get time back and spend it effectively.
  • Power BI—A business analytics service that enables information workers to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency and understanding through live data dashboards, interactive reports and compelling visualizations.
  • Customer Lockbox—Gives customers new approval rights, transparency and control over their data in the cloud.
  • Advanced eDiscovery—Integrates Equivio machine learning, predictive coding and text analytics capabilities, to reduce the costs and challenges that come along with sorting through large quantities of data for eDiscovery purposes.
  • Advanced Threat Protection—Protects against unknown malware and viruses by applying behavioral analysis.

Contact the Atidan team at office365@atidan.com for additional information and a free briefing!

Blog credit: https://blogs.office.com/2015/11/30/office-365-brings-significant-new-value-to-business-customers-worldwide/

Video Conferencing for Startups and Small Businesses—10 Hacks to Maximize their Value

Whether you operate a startup on a shoestring budget or have a successful small business, chances are good that you’re always looking for ways to save money, maximize your investments and get your clients, customers and your team excited about what you do. In order to do that, sometimes meeting face to face is necessary—but it can also be cost prohibitive. Between trains, flights and/or the cost of driving a car, plus the actual time you’ll spend traveling (which can be pretty unproductive even when you have the luxury of being able to work on the go), sometimes the benefits of seeing a client in-person just don’t add up.

That’s where video conferencing comes in. It gives you the power to bring everyone together—without the cost of a plane ticket. That said, video conferencing can have its pitfalls and problems, but with a few quick tips you can avoid some of the bumps in the road and get even more from your system.

  • Video conferencing for startups and small businessesGet comfortable with the camera—Looking good in front of the camera isn’t just a matter of putting on a suit and coiffing your hair, so take some time before your debut to practice your camera skills. For instance, learn to concentrate on the camera instead of the screen, slow down your movements, stop nervously picking at your nails, and learn to smile. After all, your clients will see everything that you’re doing, and you don’t want to distract them from your message.
  • Work on your presentation voice—No one likes being shouted at or wants to struggle to hear what you’re saying. So before video conferencing with your clients, test out your mic and figure out how moving around a room changes what people hear. Try speaking softly, loudly and somewhere in between, and ask a co-worker, friend or family member to weigh in on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sound.
  • Check your settings—As you work on your on-camera mannerisms and presentation voice, don’t forget that you can improve both the way you look and sound by making a few quick adjustments to your webcam’s video settings. With the ability to tweak brightness, exposure, color, white balance and microphone volume, among other things, you can deliver a performance that’s as close to perfect as possible.
  • Location, location, location—Even if you work in an environment that’s all about the hustle, you should seek out a quiet place where background movements won’t distract attendees from your message. As an added bonus, with less motion in the background, your video will also look smoother.
  • Update your technology—With every new iteration of video conferencing technology that comes out, the quality of your experience will improve—either though ease of use, video quality or another factor. By simply updating the version of the technology you’re using, you can get a better conferencing experience. (The good news is that updates are usually included with your technology, so it’s just a matter of clicking a button.)
  • Get wired—For smoother, more consistent audio and video, try to use a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. In a pinch Wi-Fi will do, but it often results in more lag time and interference, which can reduce the quality of your audio and video, frustrate guests and give you a somewhat less than professional look.
  • Check your bandwidth—Depending on the type of video conferencing you want to do, you may need to increase your bandwidth to get the upload/download speeds you need for a quality experience. Although these numbers are subject to change and may depend on the video conferencing service you use, you can consider these numbers (shown as upload/download) the absolute minimums you should aim for:
    • Video calling with screen sharing: 128kpbs / 128kpbs
    • High-quality video calling: 400kpbs / 400kpbs
    • HD video calling: 1.2Mpbs / 1.2Mpbs
    • 3-person video calling: 512kpbs / 128kpbs
    • 5-person video calling: 2Mpbs / 128kpbs
    • 7-person (or more) video calling: 4Mpbs / 128kpbs
  • Connect early—The importance of this cannot be overstated, especially if you’re conferencing with clients. After all, you don’t want to waste your client’s time and look like a novice by fumbling around with your technology in the process.
  • Encourage interactivity—People are often hesitant to share what’s on their minds when they feel they’ve been put on the spot, but the point of video conferencing is to simulate an in-person meeting experience, which is typically full of questions, comments and asides—all of which can be important to building trust, understanding and creating lasting relationships. In order to encourage this type of banter, let everyone know that they’re free to ask questions at any time. Then, if there’s an opportunity to engage someone in the conversation naturally—just as you would if you were in a room together—do so.
  • Record your meetings—The best way to improve your meeting skills is to see how they read from the other side of the camera. When possible, record both the audio and video of your meetings and evaluate them in the same way that a football team would go over their plays the day after a big game.

Finally, don’t forget to send a follow-up email. Just as with any other meeting, don’t assume that clients will take notes or even fully grasp the information and concepts addressed in a meeting. In order to hedge your bets, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and provide them with a follow-up message containing the salient points of the discussion and an outline of any next steps, expectations or responsibilities. This way, everyone will have seen and heard the information, and participants have something concrete that they can refer back to. It’s a win-win that costs little in terms of time, and allows you to stay in front of your team and clients long after the meeting has ended.

Contact the Atidan team for additional information about Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business office365@atidan.com

Content from Microsoft https://blogs.office.com/2015/09/02/video-conferencing-for-startups-and-small-businesses/