Remote / home working is growing in popularity and there are many advantages to this model of working, such as a reduced carbon footprint, lower overheads and improved staff morale. However, many businesses fear that remote working can lead to a breakdown in communication – but that needn’t be the case at all so long as you invest in the right technology.
One of the biggest concerns for companies who encourage remote working is that communication can become confused when you aren’t face to face. Without seeing the other person’s facial expressions, language can be construed wrongly or misunderstood. The answer is to use video conferencing – the latest high definition video conferencing technology is almost as good as meeting in person, as the image is so clear that the subtleties of body language aren’t missed.
Another issue is with sharing data. If you’re used to holding regular meetings where teams brainstorm or work together on projects you may worry about how you will be able to continue to collaborate remotely. Again there is a technological solution – interactive white boards, such as SMART boards, let you collaborate on documents and then save and share the results.
But surely these solutions are fine in an office situation – but not accessible to someone working from home, or on the move, I hear you thinking. Not true – there are devices, systems and services that let you use video conferencing and interactive white board technology wherever you are. For example, LifeSize ClearSea is an enterprise-class client/server solution that lets you access video conferencing whether you are using a dedicated system, a desktop computer or even a tablet or smartphone. Another option is LifeSize Softphone which is desktop software that’s standards-based and hugely interoperable so you can enjoy HD video conferencing on many devices.
But what about interactive white boards? Surely they can’t be portable? Actually yes, they can. SMART Podiums are interactive monitors that let you write on and control the elements on screen using a special pen, and project the monitor display to a large screen or white board. It’s the ultimate portable interactive white board and you can even “send” your display remotely using Bridgit software.
So how can all this technology help improve your communication with remote workers? This case study might demonstrate the advantages of mobile communications technology. A client of ours runs a training company. He has a home office but he works with corporate clients all over the UK – which involves lots of travel. He came to us because he knew that he needed video conferencing or an interactive white board so he could conduct at least some of his training remotely. We recommended a SMART Podium and the LifeSize Softphone, along with a licence for Smarter Conference software and our monthly managed service. For an initial investment of around £2000 and a monthly payment of £75 our client has saved himself around 30 hours of travel and `10 overnight stays every month … a great return on his investment.