The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year the majority of us had no choice but to work from home in some capacity. And while there are plenty of jobs that can’t be performed remotely, some people found that they were just as successful at getting the job done in their home office—and in some cases, even more so.
It’s safe to say that before this year, “working from home” was saddled with negative imagery of people wearing pajamas all day, taking leisurely extended lunches, and mentally checking out at around 4 p.m. to start making dinner plans.
But that narrative was turned on its head when everyone was sent home in March for an indefinite period of time. As the days turned into weeks, companies had to make swift adjustments to ensure staff could accomplish their daily tasks in a satisfactory and timely manner. One of those adjustments concerned communications systems, which required upgrades as meetings had to go virtual.
As cloud communications specialists, CCi Voice was uniquely equipped to not only position our own staff to successfully work from home, but also to ensure our clients had everything they needed to be as connected as possible given the unavoidable circumstances.
Working From Home: The CCi Voice Experience
CCi Voice’s Chief Technology Officer Chris Lasek is accustomed to the work-from-home lifestyle. Joining CCi Voice more than 13 years ago, Lasek says the possibility to work via remote access was a major draw for him.
“One of the main advantages of the job was working from home,” he says. “There was of course the technology associated with working with VoIP, but the main lure was the work-from-home benefits.”
Lasek Originally hails from Poland where he attended Warsaw University, earning a degree in archeology. He eventually emigrated to the U.S., where he graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a master’s degree in computer information technology.
When he began working for CCi Voice, Lasek says Founder and CEO Michael LeBlanc sent him out to dinner with one of the company’s veteran employees to learn the ropes. The employee told Lasek that the biggest and best thing about working for CCi Voice is that he was able to watch his kids grow up at home.
“And it’s true. It’s the little things like being there when they leave for school or come back from school. Or I go down to make some tea and they’re here. It’s a big family advantage,” says Lasek. “Of course, it can be a double-edged sword at times. It’s stressful when the baby’s crying and you have a client that isn’t happy or something’s not working—that can be challenging.”
But for Lasek, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. When he works from home, Lasek saves at least an hour of travel time to and from the office—and sometimes up to two hours each way, depending on traffic. Then there’s the time he saves getting ready for work. While still looking presentable for video conferences while working from home, there’s far less preparation involved when you don’t have to worry about office-appropriate attire.
“I don’t have video calls everyday and on those days, I just wear a T-shirt, shorts, and slippers. That time that I would’ve spent getting ready for the office, I can now devote to doing work,” says Lasek. “That additional time is a real advantage. You’re also not stuck in traffic and stressing out about being late.”
Learn about Cloud Communications in a Work From Home Setting, here!
Manufacturing In A Remote Access World
Shifting workers to remote access is easier said than done—and for some industries, it’s downright impossible. Philip Kocsis, director of marketing and information technologies with Schwerdtle, Inc., explains that his industry doesn’t jibe with the work-from-home world.
“It has not been a positive experience,” says Kocsis. “We are a manufacturing company and while some of our lower risk admin/accounting/sales/marketing people could work effectively out of the office, our higher risk (generally older) workers in the shop that stayed home were unable to perform their jobs.”
Besides the fact that manufacturing requires the use of multi-million dollar equipment that most people simply do not have in their garages, Kocsis says that communications can be more complicated when some team members are working from home.
“When issues arise that can normally be addressed with a two-minute face-to-face in-office meeting, those tend to become an email train or Facetime-type meeting, as most people need to ‘see’ a complex problem,” he says “Working from home is a distinct disadvantage for those workers, as they are often left out of the problem solving, thus depriving them (particularly of younger workers) from gaining experience from seeing complex problems being solved on a daily basis.”
Still, Kocsis says that Schwerdtle had the tools in place to switch to remote—demonstrating just how important it is to be prepared, even if “work from home” isn’t exactly in your framework.
“Much of the necessary infrastructure was already in place,” he says. “Our ERP systems are cloud based, as well as all employee’s email and Office 365 accounts. Most meetings were held via online services such as MS Teams (part of our cloud services). CCi Voice is our phone service and was able to assist in arranging a workable phone-solution. We routed employee’s extensions to their cell phone apps, and used the VPN to stay connected to the Internal servers and have access to (internal) engineering or technical art data and CNC machining or CAD files.”
Work From Home: A Sign Of Things to Come?
Joshua Benenson, managing director of FilBen Group, a leader in senior housing and long-term care for more than 40 years, believes that it’s been a fine transition from an in-office setting to working from home.“There are always differing opinions of whether anyone does actual work when out of the office. Overall, after an initial dip in productivity, we've been hitting our desired output from our employees,” he says. “At the senior levels, I'd say we were putting in longer hours at work, but it’s offset by the ability to see family more.”
Benenson says that FilBen Group had many of the tools in place to make remote accessibility possible—however, the company never had to utilize these tools to the degree they did during the early days of the lockdown. These tools include email, text, and phone with conference calls, video calls and more to help staff stay on the same page.
Overall, Benenson believes the work-from-home transition was ultimately successful.
“While unpopular within my organization, I am a big proponent of allowing employees to work remotely when they choose to,” he says. “As long as their work productivity does not suffer, I am fine not seeing them for several weeks at a time.”
“It’s important to have options and to be ready to pivot to remote working,” Lasek says. “The technology is there to make it possible.”
Technology Makes It Possible
CCi Voice’s Chris Lasek says that in his estimation, more companies should and are preparing for more work-from-home scenarios. Given the chance to clock-in at home without the stresses associated with actually getting to the office, Lasek believes that many employees will choose to stay home and utilize remote access.
“I can’t imagine people going back to office settings full time,” says Lasek. “People will resist and say, ‘look I was getting my job done, why can’t I work from home?’ And on the other hand, some employers might only require employees to come into the office from time to time.”
And the best way to meet that the expectations of a workforce that prefers working from home is to be prepared—pandemic or not.
“It’s important to have options and to be ready to pivot to remote working,” he says. “The technology is there to make it possible.”