Don't Let Out of the Office Mean Out of Touch
There's plenty of value in taking a little time off. It provides perspective, a new angle from which to look at problems, and plenty of that good old fashioned rest. But it also has the possibility to provide a hole in communications, the kind of hole that opportunities can disappear, never to be recovered. Wilmingtonbiz's Insights page recently took a look at the idea of putting business communications to work over the holidays, allowing “out of the office” to no longer mean “out of touch.”
Unified communications (UC) systems are increasingly allowing employees to keep in touch with businesses regardless of the employee's current location, whether it's a million miles away or just a mile up the road. That has a lot of value for businesses, whose business seldom stops just because a holiday arrives. Certain features are key to such systems being able to best allow the connection of employee and business, like find-me-follow-me systems that allow calls to be transferred to a mobile device from what would have been a call into a landline phone. Tied into IP phone applications like StarPhone for iPhone from Teleco's Star2Star, that can mean that, even should someone call into the office to ask a question or place an order, the call can still be received and handled on the spot, even when the office is locked up tight.
Other technologies—found in services like Star2Star—that have value in this kind of situation include things like presence technology that allow others to see availability, easy access to voice mail systems for when a user isn't so available as all that, call transfer systems, conferencing systems, outbound calls using IP data networks, and a properly secure user authentication service.
These features offer plenty of value; using IP networks for voice service can often be less expensive than using a cellular data plan, or even in some cases a cellular voice plan. This is particularly true in cases of long distance or even international calling, which may come into play for some users. Better yet, availability solutions allow users to be specifically available during some parts of the holidays, and not available during others.
Availability during the holidays is a particularly tricky matter for businesses; no one wants to pass up opportunities that might help a business succeed. After all, without a sufficient number of successful opportunities in hand, the business folds altogether. But by like token, the last thing anyone wants is to call someone right in the middle of carving the Christmas goose, turkey or ham. That's the kind of thing that makes valuable employees start to reconsider employment options, and excessive turnover won't help matters much either. No one wants to actively lose talent over encroachments on personal and family time—even Ebenezer Scrooge shuttered Scrooge and Marley on Christmas Day, and that was before the spirits showed up—so having those options to say, hey, I'm not available right now splits the difference. It's one thing to call someone while Christmas dinner is lazily digesting; it's another to call while it's being eaten.
Holiday availability has always been a tricky matter, and those who can be available during the holidays are often the most valuable of employee. But even these valuable folks have families to see, so being considerate of that is important as well. Services like Star2Star, and others that offer similar features, will likely prove to be very valuable as the holidays arrive.
Edited by Maurice Nagle