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Video Conference Fatigue is Real. Learn How to Avoid It.

Infographic - Avoid Video Conferencing Fatigue

Meet Kimberly Zacharkiewicz, Director of Finance

Director of Finance, Kimberly Zacharkiewicz joined the S-NET Team in December, 2019. Kim enjoys streamlining procedures, implementing changes and is motivated by delivering accurate and timely results. In her first few months at S-NET, she has already transformed several of S-NET’s internal processes. In her free time, Kim loves hanging out with her family, traveling with her husband and discovering local breweries wherever they go. Can you guess which TV show she likes to binge-watch after a long day of work?

What motivated you to choose this career path?

I fell in love with this field in high school, when I took an accounting class and loved it. I had a great teacher, but it also just fit my personality. I received my Bachelor’s in Accounting from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1991. It’s been a lot of years since that first class and I still love what I do.

Where did you work before joining S-NET?

I spent the prior 5 years as Vice President of Finance and Administration for MultiTaction, a Finnish developer of advanced collaboration and visualization solutions. I also served as Vice President of Finance and Administration for 7 years with Capital Building Services Group and for 17 years with Ciorba Group, Inc. The basic responsibilities remained the same throughout my career, but the industries were quite different.

Tell us a little about your work at S-NET.

I currently oversee S-NET’s finances, including our billing, cash-flow, budgeting, accounting, banking, taxes, human resources and insurance. Much of my work here has been project based. I’ve spent a lot of my time finding ways to improve processes and implementing changes. Being able to create better processes and more accurate and timely results is probably what motivates me the most in my work.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I enjoy having routines that I can depend on, such as a monthly accounting cycle ending with financial statements. But I also like that there is an aspect of variety in my work, because no two days are ever the same! Everyone at S-NET truly works as a team and is very helpful and respectful of each other, which makes my work more enjoyable.

What have been your biggest challenges?

Being new to Telecom, my biggest challenge at S-NET was learning the industry. There was a lot to take in as far as our products and services, taxation, customers and our systems. Already I feel that I have grown tremendously and I anticipate much more growth to come.

I have also brought on 2 new team members in the short time I have been here. Onboarding and training new team members during a pandemic came with its own unique challenges. But we were able to get them up to speed successfully in a short amount of time.

What have been some projects you are particularly proud of?

Initiating Bill.com as our AP processing tool has been one of my favorite projects so far. It saves us a considerable amount of time and money each month and ensures that our vendor invoices are properly reviewed and paid electronically.

We also just released our Partner Commissions Gateway. This project had been slated to be done long before I joined.  Although it took some time to get this accomplished, we have successfully launched it. It will give our channel partners insights into their customer installations and status of their commissions.

My next big project will be planning and developing our 2021 budget. This will be my first year going through this process for S-NET and I’m excited!

How do you unwind after a long day of work?

Lately, I have been binge watching old seasons of Survivor.

How do you like to spend your time off?

I love to read and travel. My husband and I love finding small local breweries to visit whenever we go.

I also prioritize family and spend as much of my free time as I can with my granddaughter. I enjoy reading to her, whether in person or over Zoom. I am really excited about meeting my second grand-child due to arrive in 2021!

I recently got to enjoy the marriage of my oldest son to my beautiful new daughter-in-law. Although the wedding was delayed and not quite the one originally planned, it turned out to be the perfect small, back-yard event.

 

S-NET Supported the Grand Opening of the 1000th Marco’s Pizza Location

One of S-NET’s largest customers, Marco’s Pizza, celebrated the grand opening of their 1000th store in Kissimmee, FL, and it was an honor to serve as a supportive partner for this extraordinary occasion! S-NET Strategic Alliance Manager, Mike Muar attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and spent time in the days leading up to the event at the new location to ensure that the store’s phone system and the POS backup function at peak performance. He brought back some great memories and photos to share the joy and significance of this event with us.

“I was very excited when we found out that we were chosen to be the telephone system provider for Marco’s 1000th Store”, said Mike Muar. “It was an amazing event to attend.”

4 stores were in the running to be the 1000th Marco’s Pizza location, all of them S-NET customers. The winner was the store owned by entrepreneurs Kattya Barbaran and Rafi Vargas, for whom this grand opening is the culmination of years of hard work and the pursuit of their personal American Dream.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, S-NET became Rafi and Kattya’s first customer, ordering, and later donating several pies to the first responders of a local fire station. S-NET’s order receipt will be framed and displayed in the store as a reminder of how far both the new owners and the franchise as a whole have come.

 “I am absolutely thrilled to support the Marco’s Franchise Community,” said Muar. “It has afforded me the opportunity to meet some amazing and dynamic entrepreneurs. It really is a fantastic group of people!”

We would like to congratulate the entire Marco’s Pizza Team for this extraordinary milestone, and we look forward to supporting many more franchisees in the future!

The grand opening of the 1000th Marco's Pizza location.

The grand opening of the 1000th Marco’s Pizza location.

The Marco's Pizza team at the grand opening of the 1000th location.

Franchisees Kattya Barbaran, Rafi Vargas and Ed Boyer with Marco’s President and COO Tony Libardi, founder Pasquale Giammarco, and CEO Jack Butorac

Cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the 1000th Marco's Pizza location.

Franchisees Kattya Barbaran, Rafi Vargas and Ed Boyer cut the grand opening ribbon, surrounded by Marco’s President and COO Tony Libardi, Area Representative Mike Fletcher, founder Pasquale Giammarco, CEO Jack Butorac, and Glenn Ajmo, Area Representative.

Marco's franchisees celebrate at the grand opening of the 1000th Marco's Pizza store.

Franchisees Kattya Barbaran, Rafi Vargas and Ed Boyer celebrate with Marco’s President and COO Tony Libardi, Area Representative Mike Fletcher, founder Pasquale Giammarco,  CEO Jack Butorac, and Glenn Ajmo, Area Representative.

S-NET Communications becomes the first customer of the 1000th Marco's Pizza location.

S-NET Strategic Alliance Manager, Mike Muar places the first order. In addition to being their telecommunications partner, S-NET became the store’s first client as well.

S-NET Communications Strategic Alliance Manager Mike Muar with the owners of the 1000th Marco's Pizza store

S-NET Strategic Alliance Manager, Mike Muar, with owners Kattya Barbaran and Rafi Vargas.

S-NET Communications became the first customer of the 1000th Marco's Pizza location.

S-NET’s order receipt will be framed and displayed at the store as a reminder of this milestone event.

S-NET Strategic Alliance Manager, Mike Muar with Marco's Pizza Vice President and CTO, Rick Stanbridge

S-NET Strategic Alliance Manager, Mike Muar with Marco’s Pizza Vice President and CTO, Rick Stanbridge

6 Solutions to Support Your Hybrid Workforce as They Return to the Office

Many organizations like yours have started to gradually re-open their offices. But the tapered return has proven to be more challenging than expected. With capacity limits set to keep employees safe, many businesses are finding that their existing technology infrastructure does not support their new hybrid work environment. Does yours enable a gradual return?

Successfully switching from a 100% remote work setting to a 50-50% ratio requires conferencing technology that engages both in-office and remote staff equally. When the entire staff was videoconferencing from home, they were all dealing with the same challenges. But when part of your staff participates in a meeting face-to-face while their colleagues join remotely, moments of disconnect become more frequent. Remote team members may have difficulties hearing their in-person colleagues and be left out of important conversations. Without seeing the presentation, they may find it difficult to follow the discussion or contribute meaningfully. And sometimes their presence can be forgotten entirely simply due to their lack of visibility.

A hybrid work environment has been a staple at S-NET ever since we can remember, and we have had our fair share of challenges throughout the years. We made changes to our technical infrastructure so that all of our participants felt included and were equally engaged during meetings. Here are the 6 solutions that we found to be the best in bridging the gap between our in-office workforce and remote staff.

1. Upgrade your conference phones to ensure that all participants can hear each other.

One of the most common challenges of a hybrid meeting is to ensure that everyone can hear the conversation fully. When part of the in-person team sits farther from the microphone or are wearing masks, remote employees may find it difficult to follow the conversation. They often miss out on important information, and even on the occasional joke that helps build cohesion among team members. Under such circumstances, connecting with colleagues and contributing to the conversation meaningfully becomes challenging.

Investing in a high-quality conference phone or audio equipment helps ensure that participants on both ends of the technology are equally engaged in the conversation. Conference phones designed to cover your specific meeting room size and models with expansion microphones capture sound from all corners of your space, even as in-person participants spread out in the room due to social distancing measures. Features such as HD sound clarity, 365-degree dead-zone free voice pickup, and background noise reduction can go a long way in ensuring that all your meetings run smoothly and all team members can participate fully.

2. Invest in powerful screen sharing and collaboration software.

Teams often use slide decks to guide their discussions and review files and documents together. But when part of the group is joining the conversation from home, projecting the presentation in the conference room or sharing printed documents will not cut it. It is critical to ensure that all participants have access to shared content and can follow the conversation easily.

Screen and file sharing can go a long way in bridging the gap between local and remote participants. Give your team the online collaboration tools they need to share meeting presentations and files. It will allow them to easily follow the discussion, no matter where they are located. Online collaboration tools also provide additional benefits, such as call and screen recording, as well as file sharing. Saving files and recordings associated with important meetings makes it easy to share the content with additional participants. They also serve as great reminders in case team members need to refresh their memories on the details.

3. Augment your video conferencing with high quality screens and projectors.

Remote employees may also be left out of conversations simply because they are not seen – out of sight, out of mind. They are often omitted during question rounds. And by the time the local team notices that they dropped off the call due to technical issues, they may have already missed an important chunk of the conversation. While remote participants can most certainly make an effort to be heard and included, experience shows that being visually present – whether in-person or through video – has an impact on their overall engagement.

Projecting your team’s video on a large screen eases communication between your groups, makes it possible to see who is talking at any given time, and ensures that remote employees are not forgotten. With the right video technology in place, your team’s technical difficulties can be noticed right away, before participants miss important parts of the discussion.

4. Improve remote and in-office conferencing with better video equipment.

Engaging your remote team via video conference is a great way to keep them involved in the conversation. But if they are unable to see your local team, they may find it challenging to follow along or see who is speaking. Additionally, if video quality is poor, important details may be missed during demonstrations and trainings.

Video can go a long way in making remote team members feel fully present and connected to their in-office peers. Upgrading your cameras will ensure that video communications are crystal clear and that everyone is on the same page.

5. Boost your bandwidth to better handle increased multimedia communication.

Voice and video applications require a significant amount of bandwidth to function at peak performance. When your Internet connection is unstable or fails to support your videoconferencing solution, remote employees may drop in and out of calls, and conversations require double the effort.

Engage your videoconferencing vendor to determine the type of connectivity your team needs. Invest in solid primary and backup connections for your conference rooms to avoid any downtime during important calls.

But while purchasing a solid circuit for your office is relatively easy, ensuring that your home-based team has the right Internet connectivity as well is much more challenging. If at least part of your team works remotely, even on occasion, consider subsidizing their connectivity expenses. With high-quality resources in place both in your office and in your team’s homes, your employees will be able to easily connect whenever needed.

6. Reserve time for technical setup and testing.

Not reserving a little extra time to test equipment regularly or set up before a meeting is a mistake that many companies have made and regretted. Troubleshooting internet connectivity, devices or software eats away at important meeting time. So it is critical to have everything in working condition when the meeting begins.

Testing your conference room infrastructure on a regular basis can go a long way in reducing wasted time. Keep your team well-trained on any new conferencing solutions and be sure to reserve extra time before meetings. Use this time to test your internet connection and your software, and ensure that all your participants have connected to the conference successfully.

 

There is still a lot we don’t know about how our work environment will change in the next few months and even years. But one thing is certain: finding ways to connect and engage each employee, regardless of where they are located, will be critical to your business success. These are just 6 solutions that we found helpful at S-NET. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any help finding the right technology solutions to connect your hybrid workforce now and in the future.

 

 

Meet Steve Zellers, Tier II Technical Support Engineer

Tier II Technical Support Engineer, Steve Zellers, joined our team in 2019 when SkyTalk Plus merged with S-NET. Steve is currently responsible for the smooth transition of former SkyTalk clients to S-NET’s services and is excited to see what new challenges his work will bring after the migration.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you choose this career path?

IT was a natural fit for me since I was interested in computers from a very young age. I started building and repairing computers when I was 13, but I received my technical training at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. I studied Electronic Principles, Computer, Network, Cryptographic & Switching Systems (CNCS), and received extensive Cisco training.

After my service in the Air Force, I had the opportunity to work as an IT Manager for a couple of different companies. In 2013, I was approached by Wes Pace, founder of SkyTalk Plus, to join his new venture. As Technical Support Manager for SkyTalk, I oversaw 4 technicians, and was responsible for escalations, endpoint templates and internal IT as well. I worked there until the company joined forces with S-NET in 2019.

How has your role changed since joining S-NET?

I currently work as a Tier II Technical Support Engineer at S-NET, and I am responsible for migrating former SkyTalk customers to the S-NET Communications platform. My former SkyTalk team are still reporting to me as their supervisor, so my role has not really changed too much. But I know that it will develop further as the migration project winds down, so I am excited to see what new challenges will be coming my way.

Has your work environment changed?

S-NET and SkyTalk have a lot in common, including their culture. I would say that the biggest difference between the two is size. From the moment I first stepped into the S-NET office, I felt like I was accepted into a big family!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love figuring out and resolving problems. I could probably equate it to someone enjoying complicated puzzles as a hobby. The most challenging aspect is trying to help resolve an issue that is caused by something outside of my control. I won’t give up on it, though. I always go above and beyond to ensure we can reach a resolution.

I also enjoy learning something new each day. Over the years, I have a gained a great deal of knowledge and understanding of networking, SIP technology and back-end systems. But there is still a lot more to learn and experience. Very exciting!

What have been your most rewarding S-NET projects so far?

I am most proud of the successful migration of our largest and most complex customers. A lot of work and planning went into those projects and they went very smoothly. I also enjoyed migrating SIP trunk customers, and clients who use Adtran IAD systems. It is very challenging to migrate those technologies at high efficiency to keep downtime to an absolute minimum. It was rewarding to see that customers didn’t notice any downtime at all.

How often do you interact with clients?

I interact with our customers and channel partners daily, so this job is not just about technical skills and proficiency. There is also a customer service aspect, and making sure that clients and partners are well taken care of. I am proud that I have developed a good working relationship with many of them, and I really enjoy getting to know them. There are many interesting people out there that I would not have “met” otherwise.

How do you like to unwind after work?

After a hard day’s work, I enjoy immersing myself in the fantasy world of a video game, like the The Legend of Zelda! When I’m not trudging through the virtual Kingdom of Hyrule, I enjoy watching TV shows and movies. I am big fan of Game of Thrones and Westworld, but I also like sci-fi shows and comedies.

I also love traveling. My wife and I got to take a vacation to London and Paris recently, and we had an amazing time! Ireland is next on our bucket list. But I would love to visit London again and have a more relaxed visit. The goal is to have another great trip and experience abroad, wherever that may be.

Tell us one thing most of your coworkers and clients don’t know about you!

During the Holidays, my wife and I go all out decorating for Halloween and Christmas! I have 2 kids, 3 stepchildren and 4 grandchildren, so holidays are great celebrations in our house.

 

 

Will Online Collaboration Uproot Business Communications as We Know it?

In the age of widespread telecommuting and productivity KPIs, video conferencing was well on its way to becoming an integral part of business operations. But with an unexpected global pandemic that put a stop to most in-person and in-office interactions, online collaboration tools have become truly ubiquitous and downright indispensable for countless organizations. Professionals from coast to coast are now relying on their laptops and PCs to communicate. As desk phones are gathering dust at the office, many experts predict that this shift will have a lasting impact on our work, as well as our communications technology. But can online collaboration software really uproot business communication as we know it?

There’s no doubt that video conferencing and remote collaboration tools have countless benefits. They enable teams like yours to stay connected and productive from anywhere, no matter the circumstances.  They provide a rich alternative medium when in-person meetings cannot take place. With online collaboration, your organization can also save time and money on business travel, work comfortably on shared files, and even hire team members from virtually any part of the world.

But video conferencing tools often fail to meet some of the fundamental communications needs of a modern business. Numerous organizations rely on external calling, as well as advanced call handling to operate optimally, using features features like Time of Day Routing, Ring Groups, Call Parking and many others. Web-based collaboration software doesn’t provide these functionalities, and external calling is limited at best. In addition, most businesses still have team members who not only resist technological change, but are actually more efficient in their work when using their phones.

When making large-scale communications decisions for organization, it is important to take into account the needs of all your different teams. Below are a few things to consider before you make any permanent changes.

Does your team regularly communicate with clients, partners or vendors?

If your team relies on communications mostly for internal collaboration, video conferencing software provides them with a medium-rich ecosystem to discuss projects efficiently. But if communicating with clients, partners and vendors is an important part of their work, collaboration software with limited external calling functionalities can hold them back significantly.

In most web-based collaboration tools, external calls are invitation based, scheduled in advance, and often require downloading the application by all parties involved. In addition, the majority don’t integrate with CRMs, such as Salesforce, Zoho, or Zendesk, making it more difficult for account management, billing, or sales teams to record information. When placing, receiving and recording external calls requires so much effort, working with clients, partners and vendors becomes a huge hassle. Particularly for organizations that offer customer support or work with various partner organizations on a regular basis, online collaboration software will simply not provide the efficient communications platform they need.

Teams that work with outside stakeholders require a phone system that allows them to place or receive a call in seconds, whether they use a desk phone, a softphone application, or a VoIP phone system integrated with their video conferencing software to do it. Features like Speed Dials, Hold, Call Park and Call Transfer offered by leading VoIP solutions help ensure that your team can manage external calls and communicate with outside parties just as efficiently as they do with coworkers.

Does your organization rely on elaborate call handling?

As highly technical – and mostly introverted – users themselves, many IT leaders favor the feature rich interfaces of collaboration software over phone conversations. As their work mostly requires internal communications or chatting with various technology vendors, many of them don’t see a need for the call handling capabilities of a VoIP phone system.

But ask business leaders within their organizations and you’ll get a very different perspective. The large majority of departments need at least basic call handling functionalities to manage incoming calls effectively, while others require more elaborate solutions. Functionalities can vary from basic IVR Greeting Messages and Time of Day Routing all the way to customized Ring Groups, Ring Sequences and Call Queues.

Billing Departments, for example, often use ring groups to maximize each client call’s chances of being answered. Sales Teams usually develop elaborate ring sequences to rotate incoming leads among reps, and route calls to an answering service if calls go unanswered after a set number of rings. Customer Service teams also rely on advanced call handling, using features such as Skills-Based Routing, as well as a wide range of Call Monitoring and Call Reporting functionalities to optimize their work.

Ensuring that your team has access to the call handling system they need empowers them to manage their work effectively and save significant time and energy for truly high-value projects. Leading VoIP vendors not only provide an advanced feature-sets, but advise you on the best customized setup for each of your departments, so you can maximize productivity with a truly custom solution.

What is your team’s level of technical literacy?

While video conferencing software provides a feature-rich medium for internal collaboration, your team’s work styles and levels of technical literacy vary greatly and can determine whether collaboration software is enough for organization. Young, technically literate professionals that spend most of their time on internal collaboration thrive in a web-based environment of chat, video and file sharing. But while some of your less technical employees have come to embrace the benefits of leading-edge features, many of them continue to see phone calls as an indispensable tool for efficiency and relationship building. Most of them will much rather give a colleague a call than to type lengthy explanations into a chat window.

Your team’s work and communication styles are diverse. A VoIP integration can help you ensure that the needs of each of your departments are met. Giving your employees the communication tools they need to thrive not only increases their job satisfaction, but their productivity as well.

Can all your team’s phone calls be replaced by video chat?

Video conferencing has provided remote workers with the opportunity to connect to their colleagues, clients and partners on a much more personal level. But it may not be the right choice for every situation. And while turning the video off during a meeting is always an option, many employees feel pressured to have their camera on to avoid the impression that they are hiding something.

While many employees thrive and do great work in a remote environment, maintaining a professional-looking backdrop to their calls doesn’t always come easily in a busy family home. In addition, some workers struggle to keep their personal lives private. The large majority of companies continue to keep personal questions out of business discussions to ensure that their team’s professional success is not hindered by personal judgement. Yet video conferencing often reveals exactly those aspects of their staff’s private lives that open them up for criticism.

Enabling your team to talk over the phone when needed makes it easier to foster a professional environment. Getting the pressure of using video out of the way helps them focus on collaboration and preserve more of their energy for their task list.

 

Providing employees with the communication channels they need to be efficient is critical for any organization. While some teams may thrive on elaborate collaboration solution only, others may need the VoIP functionalities that help them tackle tasks efficiently.

But maintaining solid channels for both internal and external collaboration doesn’t necessarily mean managing disparate systems. And it doesn’t necessarily require desk phones either. Many VoIP providers offer extensive integrations with videoconferencing software to give their clients the best of both worlds under one roof. A VoIP integration allows your team to place and receive external calls straight from their collaboration interface and manage all their contacts in one place. The advanced call handling processes that have become so fundamental in VoIP business communications can be easily implemented within an integration, enabling your team to answer purposefully routed calls from anywhere and any device. Customizing your communications to your team’s roles can go a long way in setting your team and your business up for success.

S-NET Communications Is Expanding its Headquarters in Schaumburg, IL

S-NET Communications announces its transition to larger facilities, increasing its capacity to serve a fast-growing customer base across the country. On July 1, 2020, S-NET’s headquarters moved from their previous location at 2860 S. River Rd. in Des Plaines, IL to 1100 Woodfield Rd. in Schaumburg, IL.

The new, modern facility will support S-NET’s mission to provide exceptional business communication and remote collaboration services to all of its customers by increasing capacity for installations, customer support and product development. The larger work, collaboration and storage space accommodates the company’s growing team, and empowers S-NET’s technical staff to more efficiently manage hardware inventory and customer projects. With ample space for all departments, the new offices will ensure that employees can safely return to in-office work once Covid-19 related restrictions are gradually eased and will enable the hiring of additional talent in the future.

S-NET’s new Schaumburg headquarters reflect the innovative and collaborative culture that the cloud-based business communications provider strives to foster. Technology-enabled meeting rooms and workstations will allow staff to easily collaborate with on- and offsite team members and discuss projects efficiently with customers, partners or vendors.

“Our new headquarters represent a significant milestone in S-NET’s history and will enable us to grow to the next level as we further develop our service portfolio”, commented Alex Fayn, S-NET CEO. “This new facility reinforces our innovative company culture and our commitment to provide industry-leading communications and networking technology to businesses large and small across the country.”

S-NET Communications is now officially operating out of its new Schaumburg facilities and has permanently moved its mailing address to 1100 Woodfield Rd., Suite 101, Schaumburg, IL. While construction in the office suite is finalized, S-NET’s staff will continue to work from home and can look forward to a gradual transition back to in-office work as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. In order to reduce exposure to the virus, the cloud service provider continues to manage customer billing online and is urging all clients to transition to paperless billing if they haven’t done so already.

Meet Phil Damato, Strategic Alliance Manager

How long have you been with S-NET?

I started on December 10, 2019, so I have been a part of the team for about 6 months.

Tell us a little about your background.

I have been in the telecommunications industry for 26 years, working for companies such as AT&T and Advanced Telecommunications. But I actually started my career as a shoe salesman. That’s right, I was the Al Bundy of Chernin’s Shoes for 12 years. (Laughs.) After I got married, I got tired of working nights and weekends, so I applied for a position with AT&T.

I have always been outgoing and social, so working in Sales came as a natural fit. When I started my career, I was determined to sell a product that everyone needs and that lead me first to shoes, and later to telecommunications. Since then, the “College of Hard Knocks” as we like to call it in Sales has definitely taught me a lot.

What are your primary responsibilities at S-NET?

I manage a pool of S-NET’s strategic partnerships and help clients find solutions to their business challenges with cloud-based communications services. Watching these companies grow and knowing that the solution I offered played a key role in that growth is very rewarding.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

S-NET’s commitment to its clients is very refreshing. As a sales person, being able to truly believe in what I am selling and relaying that to the customer makes my work easier and more meaningful.

I also find it fascinating to learn how other businesses make their revenue and see the countless successful business models on the market. After 26 years in this line of work, I still get amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of entrepreneurs.

What are the most challenging aspects of your work?

This is a very difficult moment to be in Sales. Businesses across the U.S. are hit hard by Covid-19. Many are reluctant to invest in new services, and I can’t blame them. But if I can show these organizations how cloud-based technology can help them weather the storm by reducing their expenses and keeping their teams productive from home, I can make a real difference in their business.

How do you like to unwind after a long day of work?

I like to take my dog Phoebe for a walk each evening. I spend a lot of my free time with my kids and cart them to different events. I also enjoy fishing, especially Musky fishing.

Tell us something your coworkers and clients don’t know about you.

I have been a Cub Scout Cubmaster for my son’s Cub Scout pack for 2 years. I love working with the Scouts. We recently set a new pack record in popcorn sales of over $25,000!

Why Remote Work Is Here to Stay Long After the Pandemic | by Alex Fayn, CEO

Remote work was growing in popularity long before a global pandemic forced organizations to vacate their busy offices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29% of college graduates worked from home at least on occasion, and many more considered telework an attractive job perk. But with lockdowns introduced across the U.S. due to Covid-19, that number grew to a staggering two thirds of Americans who are now working from home full time.

Many organizations across various industries resisted the move to remote work for years, primarily due to inertia and entrenched norms. Business leaders also feared a decrease in productivity and difficulties in managing their dispersed teams. But as many of them were forced to make a move to telecommuting overnight, they found that under the right circumstances, their employees can be as productive, if not more so, than at the office.

While telework is not the right choice in every industry and in every line of work, the fast-paced changes of the last few months are expected to outlast the pandemic that triggered them. The benefits of remote work are undeniable and businesses that adapt to this new work environment will thrive in the years to come. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Telecommuting keeps businesses going during Covid-19.

Over the past few months, remote work has been one of our most powerful defenses against Covid-19 and will continue to be in the months to come. Many conferences, in-person meetings and even handshakes have been deemed unworthy of the risk of infection. Moving events and meetings online enabled businesses to keep their staff protected and maintain productivity.

And we don’t see this changing in the near future. According to the New York Times, a wide range of organizations are planning to be among the last to return to in-office work. Google and Facebook announced that their employees would work remotely for the rest of the year. Nationwide Insurance moved 4,000 of its employees to permanent telecommuting.  These decisions do more than just protect staff from a possible infection. They enable employees to better manage unusual circumstances at home. They also give management enough time to reconfigure open office floor plans for safer alternatives.

Collaboration tools enable teams to work from any location and any device.

Businesses are looking to keep their operations running and their teams productive, and they are finally investing in long-postponed technology upgrades. Covid-19 was just the push that they needed to bring their communications into the 21st century. As managers turned their in-office teams into a remote workforce overnight, they found that most of their staff can easily complete their tasks from anywhere and any device, particularly in white collar industries.

Hosted VoIP technology connects employees to the company phone system from home and allows them to place and receive calls from their laptops as if they were sitting at their desks. Team collaboration has never been easier with the video conferencing, chat, screen and file sharing included in leading-edge services. Even team building activities and happy hours can take place online with a few adjustments and a little creativity.

Seeing that their distributed teams are as efficient as ever, many businesses will be in no hurry to return to the office, but will rather take advantage of their new investments to keep their employees safe.

Remote work keeps employees working during challenging circumstances.

If there is one major lesson that we need to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that we need to be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Telecommuting and remote collaboration tools used to be seen as a nice-to-have perk and were pushed to the back of the priority list. That left many business leaders scrambling to shift their strategies and introduce remote work on a hurried timeline, just to keep their business afloat.

But telecommuting ensures business continuity in a number of situations, not just during a global pandemic. Whether an employee has to stay home with a sick child, or your offices are inaccessible due to inclement weather, having a strong infrastructure for remote work keeps your team productive and your business running, no matter the circumstances. Many organizations that haven’t done so already will implement remote communication tools to ensure that they are not caught unprepared ever again.

Telework facilitates productivity from home.

Before a global pandemic forced us all outside of our comfort zones, numerous organizations across the U.S. were resisting the push to remote work. Anxious about potential management challenges and a loss of productivity, many business leaders are now recognizing that their worries were unfounded. In many industries, employees seem to be just as productive from home, if not more productive than they were at the office. This is particularly true of knowledge workers.

For many employees, making progress on projects is much easier away from the noise, movement and distractions of the office. With no morning commute or travel between meetings, workers have more time and energy to dedicate to their tasks. They are also more willing to work overtime when needed. Businesses that continue to be productive and found effective ways to manage their dispersed teams will likely continue to offer some level of telecommuting long after the pandemic is over.

Flexible work options help employers build stronger teams.

Even before Covid-19, at least 30% of workers considered the option to telecommute an important measure of job satisfaction. It is safe to assume that this number has dramatically increased since. A once nice-to-have job perk is now becoming a basic requirement in many industries.

Allowing employees to work from home gives them the flexibility to balance their personal and professional responsibilities more easily, resulting greater job satisfaction. Happy employees work harder and stay longer, which reduces turnover and decreases the cost associated with recruiting and onboarding new employees.

Giving employees the option to telecommute also positions businesses as desirable employers and allows them to attract a wider pool of qualified candidates. It also enables them to hire professionals from across the globe and build the robust teams they need to thrive.

Remote working options can reduce business costs.

With an economic recession looming, it comes as no surprise that most businesses are attempting to reduce their costs in the hopes that a lean operation will help them weather the storm. In these last few weeks, many were compelled to rethink their expenses and reduce their office spaces. As their employees are successfully completing their work from home, some are considering making these changes permanent.

Enabling even part of their team to work remotely can significantly reduce their operating costs. With less office space, equipment, business travel and lunches to pay for, organizations are better equipped to handle financial distress and can invest more in other areas critical for their business.

 

Remote work has many benefits. Even though there are many jobs that simply cannot be performed from home, including positions in manufacturing, retail or hospitality, there is no question that remote work is becoming the new norm. The organizations that adopt this technology are the ones who will thrive in the long term and dominate the next decade.

 

Video Conferencing Etiquette

Video conferencing etiquette when working from home.

 

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