31/05/11

By James Campanini, Managing Director at Cisco WebEx

Increasingly, business leaders are recognising the theory behind of remote working, the processes it involves and the variety of benefits it can bring to their organisations. Remote working has the potential to keep employees’ valuable time spent working, not in transit, and the financial benefits it can bring to organisations are clear. Change is the only constant in business, and it is vital to stay one step ahead in anticipation of the needs of your workforce.


Spread your methods

It’s important in business not to be dependent on any one method of communicating. No technology is faultless, but having a host of options available means key lines of communication are much less likely to break. Indeed, the Post-PC era presents businesses with a broad range of challenges and opportunities to communicate via a plethora of devices and platforms. Those businesses that choose to adopt and implement collaborative, flexible working strategies will ultimately enable themselves to accelerate growth and achieve their ultimate potential.


With WebEx on the iPhone and iPad now as well as desktops, it couldn’t be easier to integrate your staff’s communication across their products. Indeed, in this Post PC era, Cisco WebEx is offering their Meeting Center experience not only in the iPad and iPhone apps, but also Windows, Mac, Smart Phones and Tablets, providing users with the essential tools they need on the devices they prefer.


Two heads are better than one

As the adage goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Collaboration is important in many business situations, and it’s important that staff feel able to work together even when they aren’t in the same place. A great example is the introduction of WebEx technology at Warwick University, as an online meetings tool. Warwick’s work force consists of 5000 staff members dispersed across three main campuses as well a University Science Park, Clinical Sciences Building and other buildings in the surrounding area. As the University grew, the need for spontaneous informal meetings grew, and the educational nature of the environment meant information often needed to be shared across departments and between staff and students. The web conferencing technology proved to be a flexible, straightforward tool which enabled staff and students to keep in touch, discussing crucial projects and research in a way to drive innovation and uphold continuity without compromising their level of engagement and relationships.

Check in and catch up

Remote workers can sometimes be vulnerable to feeling disconnected from their organisation and co-workers. Like any good leader, I know that a healthy team spirit is key to an effective workforce. Try to keep workers in the loop of communication, and meet the demand for more frequent, informal catch-ups. Not all meetings are big ones, planned months in advance. Where it’s important to give your workforce the autonomy and freedom to manage their time that comes with remote working, it’s also paramount that they feel part of the whole organisation and feel sufficiently supported.

Don’t fear the unexpected

Recognising potential disruptions to daily business life is all part of seeing the bigger picture as a business leader. Having a policy for remote working isn’t just about when tube workers strike or staff are snowed in, it should be a fundamental part of how businesses are run. Successful businesses are already reaping the long-term benefits of employees being able to work, wherever, whenever they want and connecting with colleagues regardless of geographic location. Once remote working practices are in place, it’s soon clear how the added flexibility impacts on staff morale; as their work life balance improves, productivity is boosted and resulting monetary savings ensue. I believe that the future of remote working involves staying one step ahead. Being able to attend meetings and share information no matter what doesn’t only make business sense, it also makes a comforting thought.

Skip the trip

It’s plain to see that technology is at the heart of business today, staff in organisations across the world use it in every aspect of their work, often to stay in touch with one another. There are now technologies which will, in many respects, replace the need for travel and facilitate global relationships without the lengthy commute. Lower-priced travel alternatives such web conferencing mean that remote working is now much more attainable, helping workers avoid unnecessary travel times as well as significantly reducing their carbon footprint. A great example is one of our customers, Enpure, a process and electrical engineering and project management contractor that designs, installs and commissions water and waste water treatment. The team is split across Scotland and Birmingham but they are required to meet on a day-to-day basis in order to make sure that projects are delivered on time and on budget. Matthew Ely, the delivery team manager estimates that by using Cisco WebEx, he is saving a plane journey every one to two weeks, equating to a time saving of eight hours per meeting, practically a whole working day. Moreover, with flights costing anything between £100-400, he is making considerable savings that can be used to invest in other areas of the business. Adding to that, the reduction in travel has given Matthew a better work-life balance. With the right remote working processes and tools in place, it really is possible to skip the trip, and save in the process.