There are many ways that workplaces are going green, and one of the biggest is telecommuting. From 1980 – 2009, the percentage of employees working from home has grown 86%. Along with this remote work rise, more and more virtual teams are being born.
When I first heard of virtual teams, I wondered how anyone could manage employees effectively when they’re not in the same office. How do people begin work on time when their boss is remote? Would they leave early? Would they (gasp!) check Facebook with the absence of a boss nearby?
As trivial as it seems now, before the rise of telecommuting trends, I had all these questions. And then about four years ago, I became part of this growing trend. Although I’m on a very small team of two (counting myself), we still consider ourselves a team. I work from my home in South Carolina and my direct report works in Pennsylvania - sometimes in the office and sometimes from home. I really don’t pay much attention to where she is physically because with PGi‚Äôs online meetings technology, it doesn‚Äôt matter. Instead of meeting in person, we just join each other‚Äôs iMeet room. I‚Äôve even set up my iMeet room to notify me via text and email when someone enters and I‚Äôm not there ‚Äì kind of like a knock on the door. She can even drop off files for me in my room!
¬†We only see each other two or three times a year when we attend a conference or meet in one of PGi’s global support centers. I‚Äôve never felt like I’m not near her, because I ‚Äúsee‚Äù her in iMeet. And those attendance questions that used to be a big deal? Like PGi‚Äôs Digital Nomad has shown, we can work anywhere using iMeet and GlobalMeet.
Remote managers report that their top two challenges for virtual teaming are trust and communications.¬† If you‚Äôre part of a virtual team, find out how iMeet and GlobalMeet can dissolve geographic barriers for an experience that feels like your remote employee is sitting in the cube next to you.
¬†*Sources: Forresters, Brandman University, US Census, World at Work, Telework Research Network, Training/AMA/14CP, Achieve Global
When it comes to new technology, I am one of the last to adopt the latest advances. I still love handwritten notes, birthday cards sent through postal mail and books printed on paper. Each of these things helps me feel more connected to the person or story with which I’m interacting. The electronic versions of these activities simply don’t have the same effect.
When things work so well the old fashioned way, I don’t like to invest a lot of time in a new tool until I understand its value. Too many advances require more time and don’t relieve me of other activities.
I have found one new tool through PGi that makes my life simpler. As a remote employee, I spend a lot of time on conference calls. I used to use traditional audio conferencing until iMeet showed me an easier and more personal way to meet. I use my unique iMeet room every day to communicate with my colleagues, and because the system calls me, I don’t even have to know my dial-in number. Now, that’s what I call advanced! When I want to just focus on my meeting, I appreciate having one less thing to remember.
I was even able to get started without a user guide or training. You only need to see iMeet once to understand it. After all, if technology is supposed to improve our lives, we should be able to integrate it without a lot of hassle.
I love that with iMeet, my work meetings don’t take time away from personal activities I love, like reading a really good book with lots of printed pages.
If you, too, still love a hand written note, call PGi to find out why iMeet is for you.
As the mother of a tween boy, I feel like I’m always battling the technology monster. I have an affinity for eye contact from kids, and over the past couple of years, I’ve watched my son’s friends communicate less with their eyes as they became more social through technology. I know they are not looking at my house slippers because they are fashionable. The change scares me. When I think my own son is abusing an electronic privilege, I don’t hesitate to pull the plug and schedule a date night where (gasp!) we are required to speak to each other.
As much as I’m an old lady about new technology, I love PGi’s conferencing products because they are personal. When I’m using video through iMeet or GlobalMeet, I don’t worry that the person I’m meeting with isn’t focused on the conversation. Unlike other meeting solutions, with iMeet and GlobalMeet, you can sense if someone is distracted. From their room lighting up when they talk to the clarity of the video, I feel like I’m in the same room with them. If fact, I’ve caught myself saying things like, “It was nice seeing you again,” at the end of a meeting, when in fact, I’ve never seen the person outside of iMeet.
Really seeing the person I’m meeting with, not just through video, but through personal connections is why I love PGi’s technology. I can read their profile on their iMeet cube or connect with them through their social networks directly from an iMeet meeting. It’s meeting with eye contact that I’m missing from too many of today’s kids. If only Super Mario had the same personal feel as PGi’s products.
Ever since I was a college student interning at PGi, conference call security has been a big deal. Before my interview, I signed confidentiality forms in the unlikely event that I would overhear client information while walking by our Operators on calls. Of course I didn’t hear anything, but that form spoke a very loud message that I did hear: PGi takes no shortcuts when it comes to protecting our clients’ information and our audio conferencing security.
That’s why we do not post our GlobalMeet country access codes on our PGi support site. While this may create ill will among a few of our clients, it is just simply too risky. Hackers are all too ready to torpedo the security of our clients’ calls, and resolving fraudulent usage is very time-consuming and inconvenient for PGi and our customers alike.
Rosalie Campbell, Telco and Fraud Manager at PGi offered this insight: “It is challenging when so many customers post their information online. We see customers post dial-in numbers and passcodes, along with their information. Even if the passcode is no longer valid, a fraudulent user may have enough information to impersonate the user and gain access to their account. With the dial-in number, they can also spend as much time as needed to find passcodes that are valid.”
So, what should you do when you’re ready to host a global call but can’t find the local access numbers? Read the rest of this entry »
As a Communications Manager at PGi, I‚Äôm passionate about writing but not when it comes to day-to-day communications with my co-workers. My Outlook inbox fills up daily at an alarming rate. That‚Äôs why I‚Äôm a big proponent of picking up the phone and calling my co-workers when I have a question or need to briefly discuss something. At the same time, I hate leaving voicemails, primarily because people simply don‚Äôt return them. I don‚Äôt take it personally, though. Texting and emailing have replaced the archaic landline that was once used for communicating.
We‚Äôre so used to talking with our fingers that we often miss that little blinking light that tells us we have a message waiting. Or, people listen to my voicemail but then respond with an email!
So why do I despise email so much? Aside from being a remote worker who often starts to feel lonely by 3 p.m., email lacks a personal, human connection. My need to connect with others is why I‚Äôm also passionate about PGi‚Äôs services. We make our services so simple that the focus is on connecting with others. With iMeet, you get your own personal room where you can share pictures and information about yourself and connect through common networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
For web conferencing, GlobalMeet makes it possible for people to connect without all of the hassles that often come with web products. From set-up to billing and everything in between, GlobalMeet makes it easy for people to communicate in a way that feels face-to-face.
Of course, email and texting are great for keeping records, outlining details or when you don‚Äôt want to intrude on someone‚Äôs day with a ringing phone, but it‚Äôs time to swing the pendulum back the other way.
Here‚Äôs one French company that is swinging the pendulum WAY back. This IT services company hopes to completely eliminate email company by 2013. Do you think they can do it? Read¬†the full story here.
For tips on how to manage the email onslaught, read PGi‚Äôs Learning Space. I encourage you to look at your own communication habits, close that text or email, and talk with your voice. You may find that it‚Äôs faster, avoids confusion and an ongoing chain that just clogs an already overflowing inbox. At the very least, you might just be making a remote worker‚Äôs day feel a little less lonely.
At the movie theatre recently, I saw an ad to download a coupon for a free small popcorn from my mobile device. Bummer for folks who didn‚Äôt have a smart phone; they paid full price, but I only paid for the Coke. It seems everyone is cashing in on mobile these days ‚Äì and for good reason. By 2014, mobile internet is projected to surpass desktop internet usage.
That‚Äôs why more and more companies are using mobile to redefine how they interact with customers, including PGi. When a product or service goes mobile, it becomes more accessible and therefore more valuable. Take meetings for example. *Twenty-six percent of mobile app users are using apps for productivity purposes. With more people meeting while on the go, PGi now offers mobile apps for iMeet¬Æ, which can be downloaded from the iTunes¬Æ Store. A GlobalMeet app for Blackberry will also be released in a few weeks.
Going mobile alters the conditions under which iMeet can be used, but how is the end meeting experience? While meeting via a mobile device is very similar to using a desktop, due to the small screen space as well as differences in the Operating System, the iMeet experience looks and feels somewhat different. Primarily, the controls have been reconfigured to work with the tablets‚Äô touch screen and web cam video is not supported on the iPhone. Overall, though, we‚Äôve worked hard to make the experience very similar.
iMeet iPhone Welcome Screen
As much as I enjoy the freedom of having a mobile device, personally I‚Äôm a slow adapter to new technology and prefer to stick to a desktop for most of my internet usage. Of course, when I‚Äôm at the movies, I‚Äôll still use my cell phone to cash in on some free popcorn. What about you? What are some great deals you‚Äôve received through your mobile device?
¬†For more information on iMeet going mobile, read ‚ÄúiMeet Has Gone Mobile. Where Will You Take It?‚Äù¬†by PGi CEO and Chairman Boland Jones.¬†¬†
*Image courtesy of Shel Holtz, ABC, Holtz Communication + Technology
It seems we‚Äôre constantly bombarded with shiny new toys that promise to make our lives easier and more productive. In a study from the Business Insurance Quotes of workers from various countries, Americans were hailed as the most productive workers. But at what cost are we producing more hours at the office?
My entry into the virtual world and adaptation of new technology hasn‚Äôt made my life any easier. So, at PGi, I have two favorite tools that help me be more productive without contributing to the United State‚Äôs workaholism.
The first is GlobalMeet‚Äôs Outlook Toolbar. With chat, email and Twitter calling my attention all day, sometimes, the best thing I can do to crank up the productivity is to turn off the extraneous noise and schedule a time to meet with people. From this toolbar, I can schedule a web meeting or conference call that goes straight into my Outlook calendar ‚Äì and it only takes one click. The best thing is, I don‚Äôt even have to remember my dial-in numbers. They automatically populate when I choose, ‚ÄúSchedule Meeting.‚Äù Chat and email are great, but I find it‚Äôs too easy to get drawn into unproductive conversations. Sometimes, having a scheduled end time is just what I need to stay on task.
My other favorite tool to help me balance work and two kids with school schedules is PGi‚Äôs video conference, iMeet. When I‚Äôm on the road for work, I don‚Äôt have to miss the parent/teacher conference. I just give my personal link to the teacher and we can meet at our regularly scheduled time.
In the evening, I can catch up with the family on all the day‚Äôs activities by video conferencing in my iMeet room. When everyone is huddled around the web cam, I feel like I haven‚Äôt missed a thing. I can see their school work and virtually sort through the never ending stream of papers that schools send home for parents.
My goal at work is to be as productive as possible so at home I can concentrate on other things. Someone recently told me that balance is not ‚Äúcreated‚Äù ‚Äì it‚Äôs already there. You just need to find it. What are you doing to find your balance?
As I finish back-to-school shopping, I‚Äôm reminded that the first parent/teacher conference is right around the corner. I always feel a tiny pang of nervousness before sitting down with the teacher in those too small chairs. That early conference seems to set the tone for the rest of the year. There‚Äôs always so much to cover before another parent is uncomfortably hanging outside the classroom waiting for their appointment.
Teachers can avoid the awkwardness (and the pint-sized chairs) by hosting their conferences using iMeet, PGi‚Äôs virtual meeting room and video conferencing tool. When parents log into the teacher‚Äôs iMeet room, they‚Äôll get a cube where they can upload a picture of themselves or turn on the web cam to maintain the face-to-face contact that is so important in a parent-teacher relationship. Parents can also use the bio space to write information about their child. At that time of the year, teachers are still getting to know all their students, and the personal profile is an unobtrusive way to share information with the teacher.
Read the rest of this entry »
I‚Äôm a pro when it comes to back-to-school shopping, yet I‚Äôm still surprised by some of the things elementary students are required to have. I made three stops looking for Post-It Notes 2 7/8‚Äù x 2 7/8‚Äù 100 count, not to be confused by the 3 x 3‚Äù Post-It Notes in 90 count. Ahhh, the flurry of back-to-school shopping: shoes, back packs, clothes and the ever-frustrating supply list. This year, I thought of one item missing from the list that is just as important as the marbled composition notebook (not to be confused with the notebooks that have a solid cover!)
iMeet,¬†PGi‚Äôs video conferencing tool, is an essential item for planning school events. When I was a home room mom last year, we were lucky to get a quarter of all the home room parents together for a planning meeting. Many of us work and couldn‚Äôt take the time to meet in person for 45 minutes in the school cafeteria. Too bad we didn‚Äôt have iMeet. With iMeet, we could have met from our work offices, skipped the hassle of signing in at the school office and known who each other was without wearing volunteer name tags. We probably would have talked more since we could have seen each other‚Äôs faces rather than the backs of heads for those sitting near the rear.
So why not skip the 8 a.m. cookies (no one ate them anyway) and iMeet? If I find myself a home room mom again this year, I‚Äôll make sure iMeet is on my supply list. What about you? Has iMeet made the grade? Unlike everything else on the supply list, you can try it for free for 30 days. Now if only finding pocket folders with brads (not prongs) was that easy!
For productive home room parent meetings, make sure iMeet is on your school supply list.
Customer Service. Everyone claims to have it but what does it look like? For PGi, it involves a lot of listening. Every day we‚Äôre listening to our customers, and that often includes using social media tools. Although tools like Twitter and Facebook are great ways to know what your customers are saying about you, they lack ongoing personal dialogue. Recently, I‚Äôve found a new way of listening to our clients that has made our entire support organization feel more personally connected to them. Read the rest of this entry »