My Experiences as a HomeOffice Worker
A few years ago, I was in the U.K. on a business trip down in Brighton on the south coast. Anyway, rather than joining the weekly sales meeting from the confines of my hotel, I decided to find somewhere with a bit more appeal. The sun was shining and I ended up dialling into the sales meeting whilst sitting on a beach chair, sipping my coffee outside a surf shop. A few years and a couple of kids later, I am a regular HomeOffice and mobile worker and I am most definitely not alone. As such, I just wanted to share my experiences as evidence as to why the remote working trend will likely shape the future of the workplace for businesses globally.
The reasons why remote working has become a necessity are varied. For me, with two young kids, it helps me strike a better, more positive work-life balance. I can get them to kindergarten, pick them up and help with the night-time routine, which otherwise would be a big challenge. So for me, HomeOffice means I can keep working, spend time with the kids and of course help more around the house. The alternative would have been to give up working, which I am definitely not in a position to do.
For others, it could be due to geographical distance from the office or simply personal preference. In days gone by, geographical separation would have either meant relocating or would have excluded one from a job. These days, the digital transformation and advancements in Business Communication solutions have eliminated this issue as a barrier - and this delivers benefits to both employees and employers. Employees are able to benefit from flexible working conditions while employers are able to tap, attract and retain a larger pool of highly motivated and skilled staff.
Before getting into my typical week, I must point out that HomeOffice working isn’t for everyone and is obviously not suited to every job. Moreover, there are plenty of traps one can fall into which you will need to identify and do your best to avoid. A good example is knowing when to sign-off. I often work later, once the kids are in bed as this enables me to finish of my days work without interruptions, but rarely do I work beyond 9pm - 9.30pm. Everyone needs to switch off and go offline in order to remain sharp, focused and productive.
Anyway, this is how my week looks.
The nice thing about working from home on Monday is that it gently eases you back into the working week, rather than plunging you straight into the daily grind. I could get up, get the kids ready, have breakfast and do the kindergarten run all knowing that inside of a few minutes I could be at your desk and thanks to Cloud Telephony and Unified Communications, I was ready to work and available on my laptop and / or mobile.
Until September this year, Monday was a HomeOffice day and suffice to say, I miss the days when I worked from home on Mondays. My wife is a teacher and since the start of the new school year, her timetable includes having Monday mornings off and can therefore do the kindergarten runs. The result is that I am back in the daily grind on my commute to the office - although as I drive through the scenic Bavarian hills, I can’t complain too much.
The flip side of being in the office on Mondays is that I am there in person for the weekly sales and marketing briefings - it is my experience that whenever possible face-to-face communication (either in person or using video collaboration is the way forward for such briefings. Audio conferencing is great once everyone is on the same page, but lacks that visual element to get everyone onto said page.
On Tuesdays, I am at home. I get up between 5.45am and 6:15am, depending on the kids. The wife is out the door at 7am on the dot and by 8am the kids are fed, watered and dropped off at Kindergarten and as my workday officially starts at 9am, I am able to get in some invaluable extra minutes whilst everyone else is still stuck in the hustle and bustle of the morning rush hour.
One of the main obstacles many businesses see with Home Office or Remote working is how to deliver the necessary communication tools and this is where our Cloud Telephony and Unified Communications platform comes into play. All I need to do is start my laptop and open the pascom desktop client or open the pascom mobile VoIP app on my Android smartphone and hey presto, I am online which is a good thing too as Tuesday tends to be the day when I make most of my calls.
Thanks to the in-built pascom softphone, I am immediately available on my office extension, can see not only which of my colleagues are online but also where they are, I can chat with them via instant messaging and can even share documents with file sharing. Essentially all I need is a reliable internet connection and I am good to go, although having a decent headset is recommended particularly if your workspace can get a bit loud.
Obviously, communication and collaboration are key to business success, but so too is having secure data access. Cloud storage platforms are invaluable in enabling home office or remote working. No matter where I am - at home, in the office or at a trade show thanks to our cloud storage, I can access all my files from anywhere and combined with cloud communications, I am always in the loop.
Back in the office and all I need to do is open my pascom desktop application and select my office desk from the list of available locations. In doing so, I am automatically logged into my trusty Snom VoIP phone and immediately available. Hotdesking tools such as these used to belong to the realm of call and contact centre where agents often share their workspace with other shift workers. However, since the advent of open-plan offices and flexible working, Hotdesking has become much more commonplace in the business world, and pascom’s tool is extremely easy to use and set up. If, for example, I visit another office all I need do is choose a free desk, select the location from the list and my user will automatically take over the desktop phone assigned to the desk. It’s pretty much single click, meaning I need not worry about setting up a new phone for my user account or setup any call forwarding, etcetera.
Every second Wednesday we hold our full team sync up meeting. The meeting is started by the lead using hotdesking to login into our conference room location and therefore conference phone. Our remote teammates call in using our audio conferencing platform and gain the visual element thanks to desktop sharing while we will often use instant messaging and / or group chats to inform our remote workers that the conference is ready to go.
Thursday follows the pattern of Tuesday. Partly because my HomeOffice is quieter than my office and partly because I use my office days to speak face to face with my colleagues with whom I work directly, getting their feedback and input on projects and so on, I tend to schedule my calls for my HomeOffice days.
One thing about Thursdays is that I use my mobile more than my laptop for making and receiving calls. The reason is simple, I have the kids for a few hours in the afternoon before my wife comes home and therefore need that added mobility to follow the little rascals around the house and make sure they are not causing too much mayhem.
I love Fridays and not only because it’s nearly the weekend, although being able to leave early as a result of being able to start earlier during the week is definitely a plus. Friday is wrap-up day and I am normally back in the office. Today is the day where we review the week just gone and plan for the coming week. Thanks to some clever call routing and team management, we can dynamically log other colleagues into our team’s call queue and they can then field all calls during the time of the meeting. By using our mobile apps, we can be in the conference room and still be available on our office extension, so if a call needs to be dealt with there and then, it can be.
When working for a business communications solutions vendor, you have a unique insight into just how important customer service actually is. If we missed a call, then chances are that the caller may try again only to be disappointed again, so answering first time even if it is just to say we’ll call them back after the meeting is finished is huge. Our customers are after all just like us, they have meetings to attend, projects to work on and so on. By recognising their importance by answering the call and not leaving them hanging in a call queue, the customer immediately feels as if they are being looked after and once we follow up as promised, this level of customer service goes a long way.
To Wrap Up
Having the ability to work from home is one of the biggest perks of my job. Without this ability, I would be stuck. That said, I am not the kind of person who can work from home every day. Finding the right balance is essential and therefore I really enjoy the days I am in the office, mixing it up with the team and more importantly staying well and truly in the loop. Finding the balance will change from person to person, role to role and company to company, but that is not a reason to ignore the option. The tools are available and the benefits in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction are plentiful which in turn rewards employers who are also able to attract, retain, reward and motivate their team.
To find out how you and your business could also benefit from equipping your team with the tools to work remotely or would like more information regarding pascom, then give the pascom team a call on +49 991 29691 200 to discuss your requirements and why not get started within minutes using our free hosted business VoIP phone system edition.