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The UC Puzzle: Piece # 2 – UC & The Teleworker
June 3, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Ken Kurz

I telecommute, or “work from home,” about once a week these days.  I do this not because I get to pet the dog or forego a shower, but because it saves me time, increases my flexibility, and even helps save the planet in a small way.  I’m enabled in this because my tools at home are now every bit as capable as my tools in the office; in most cases they are the same exact tools. 

I “have UC”, whatever that means.  I no longer take phone calls on my desk phone.  Oh, I still have one in the office; although, these days, I’m not sure why.  It is permanently forwarded to a number that rings a soft phone on my laptop.  Why?  Because I don’t have to check four voice mail boxes to get your message.  I don’t have to record out of office messages any more.  My laptop is every bit as good a “phone” as the phone at my desk.  I can take your call just as I would in the office, even though I am in a hotel room or in my home office.

How does UCC play into this?  Here are some examples of things I expect from my communication tools, and that any Intercall customer can expect from their tools as well.  A UC Bill Of Rights, if you will.

• I expect to click a link in a meeting invite to get into a meeting using voice, video, and web.

• I expect to be able to do this 30 seconds before the meeting starts.

• I expect to be able to see who is attending the meeting (so I know which jokes not to tell).

• I expect to know who is speaking.

• I expect to be able to share content with everyone else

• I expect to be able to do most of these things when away from my desk in a place where voice is all that the network can handle. 

• Here’s one that some UC vendors have ignored: I expect to be able to use my conferencing subscription as a “meeting place” because it is accessible from anywhere on the planet with the lowest common denominator phone technology.

• I expect to meeting participants to be able to join my meeting from a desk phone, cell phone, satellite phone, VoIP phone, hard phone, soft phone, or home phone.

• I expect to be able to start a meeting whether I am physically in an office, coffee shop, airport lounge, hotel room, or taxi cab.

Five years ago this amount of telework would have been unthinkable for someone in my role.  I submit that five years from now companies will be seriously asking themselves “Why are we paying these high rents for fancy offices when 80% of our people can be every bit as productive from home?”  Personally, I will be very surprised if I even have a “traditional office” to commute to in 2013.  Will I still be driving 18 miles each way, spending 30 minutes driving and buying gas at $6 a gallon in 2013? No way.  Unified Communications (UC) and Unified Conferencing & Collaboration (UCC) in particular, are key enablers of this trend.

Warren_2 Warren Baxley is the Senior Director of Product Management & Development and the “Unified Communications and Collaboration” blogger. The holder of five patents in the conferencing industry including reservationless conferencing, Warren is building out InterCall’s global infrastructure for secure, reliable and rapid integration of new productivity solutions.

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Comments

Abby Clubb

Thanks for this post! I am able to work from home when necessary and (aside from the chit chat with other employees) I can do everything at home that I do at the office. The ability to work from home makes me feel more valued as an employee and scores big points in the work/life balance section.

Chris Rummel

Warren, I could not agree more with you when it comes to the fact that within the next 5 years corporations will be using UC platforms to not only save money but to save the planet. It seems as though everywhere I turn I am running into a company that is modifying schedules due to gas prices or due to their green initiatives. Here is a link to a story about what the city of Birmingham, AL is doing to help their employees save money and the planet at the same time. (http://www.terrapass.com/blog/posts/and-on-the-fifth-day)

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