How to Prepare for a Videoconference as a Remote Worker

Videoconferencing is quickly becoming “business as usual.” So now more than ever, it’s essential to prepare for your business videoconference meetings so that you can get the most out of each one and make sure work gets done efficiently. Whether you’re new to working remotely or have been doing it for some time, it’s easy to fumble on a call.

Get Technically Ready For Your Video Conference Call

Working remotely means you have to make sure all technical aspects of a web and videoconference are in order. In other words, you are the IT department. Don’t wait until five minutes before the call to get everything prepared. Do it way ahead of time.

Here’s a checklist of things to nail down before the call.

Internet Connection.

Your WiFi signal must be strong enough to handle both voice and videoconference calls. What’s fine for browsing or email may not be robust enough to facilitate video.

Up-To-Date Software.

Make sure you have the latest version of the meeting software. Or use a web-based business videoconferencing solution where you only need to sign on.

The global videoconferencing market size is expected to expand at a CAGR of 9.2 percent from 2018 to 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Lights, Camera, Action!

One key to successful videoconference calls is making your visual presence as clear and strong as possible. You may be in your home office, or even the kitchen table, but you still have the ability to control lighting, visual background and ambient noise. Before starting the call, turn on your camera and take a good hard look at yourself and what’s behind you and the lighting. Make sure a light source is on your face – not behind you. Then check what’s in back of you. A pile of papers? The laundry? Set up your call so that your background is clear and uncluttered. You want other participants to focus on you and not be visually distracted. Finally, find a quiet space, ideally one with a door so that you can block out other noises.

Prepare For The Content Of The Videoconference Call

Taking a few moments ahead of time to organize your thoughts can make all the difference between a frustrating call and a productive one. As you prepare for your business videoconference, consider these elements.

Agenda.

If you’re the organizer of the call, be sure to send out an agenda at least a day ahead of time. Identify what you expect from each participant. For instance, “Ashley, I’d like you to be prepared to review the latest estimates for the new construction.”

Your Role.

If you’re not the leader, reach out to the organizer and ask for clarification on your role and how you should prepare. Think through what you’d like to contribute.

Other Participants.

Find out who else will be on the call. Just as with face-to-face meetings, it’s helpful to know ahead of time who’s “in” the meeting.

What To Do During A Business Videoconference Call

These days, we’re all so accustomed to multitasking that we’re tempted to do it during a conference call – particularly a boring one. All the more reason to define your role and contribution to the call ahead of time. Here are some ways to stay tuned in.

Be Present In Mind And Body.

Look into the camera. Keep your attention on whoever’s speaking, just as you would if you were sitting in a conference room. React to comments with appropriate body language, like nodding. Because the video software may automatically switch to the speaker, avoid verbal comments unless you have a contribution or question.

Take Notes.

It’s easier to stay in the moment when you’re jotting down thoughts and information. Note any questions you have for other participants or comments you want to add to the conversation. Be ready to share when the opportunity presents itself.

The Benefits Of A Cloud-Based Video Conferencing Solution Include:

  • Improved communication with customers
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Scalability
  • Reduced costs

Limit Side Conversations.

Keep one-on-one chats to a minimum. Again, if you were in an in-person meeting you wouldn’t be passing notes to colleagues, right? Instead, take notes for follow up.

Fill In The Gaps.

We get a lot of visual information during in-person meetings. While in this respect video conference calls are better than voice conference calls, we still miss out on important data. When you have to break eye contact with the camera (and the meeting participants), it’s useful to explain what you’re doing. For instance, you may be taking notes or looking up a document that’s pertinent to the discussion.

Record The Call.

If possible, record important video conference calls. Inexpensive transcription services are available to provide a written record of the call within hours.

What To Do After The Video Conference Call

Follow-up is important after any meeting, video or in-person. Using the notes you took during the call, reach out to colleagues and partners with next steps. Virtual workspace software like MiCloud Connect Teamwork makes it easy to assign tasks, send follow-up emails and group messages, share documents and schedule future meetings, all from one web-based application.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Why the New Private Cloud Solution by Mitel is Build on Google Cloud

The choice to go private cloud is typically made after a lot of research and consideration. The modern workforce is more mobile and unified communications hosted in the cloud provides teams with fast access to applications and shared documents. But before embracing any private cloud solution, IT teams need to be certain that the platform they implement will meet high standards for security, reliability and scalability.

Knowing this, Mitel has recently launched our private cloud solution, MiCloud Flex, on the Google Cloud platform. Partnering with Google brings a number of benefits that help complement the MiCloud Flex offering. As the leading cloud network, Google Cloud offers security, reliability, speed, innovation and geographic reach that complete our private cloud, unified communications and collaboration solution.

Wondering why Google Cloud works best? Here are top five reasons and why we’re sure they’ll benefit you:

1. Multi-Layered Infrastructure Security

Security is a top concern for any company going to the cloud. Those who choose private cloud are looking for additional security safeguards. Serving over one billion end users each day across seven cloud products, Google is committed to protecting information, identities, applications and devices. Built on Google Cloud, MiCloud Flex is protected by the same secure-by-design infrastructure, global network and built-in safeguards that will mitigate the most challenging security scenarios.

With the assurance of the Google brand, Google Cloud also meets the most rigorous privacy and compliance standards that test for data safety, privacy, and security. Even the data centers are built to satisfy the most stringent security standards, with full certifications to meet SOC 2 and HIPAA compliance. The solution is deployed in a dedicated and secure single instance environment through Google’s cloud access with private and secure network links, so you’ll always have the safety and control necessary for your most valuable data.

2. Reliable Infrastructure

Google’s cloud infrastructure is a future-proof technology monitored and modified by more than 700 top experts in information, application, and network security. This is the same technology that powers billions of search results in milliseconds and serves over six billion hours of YouTube video per month.

MiCloud Flex uses the Google Cloud brand of technology to work across secure, Tier 3+ high availability data centers with optional additional security measures including full encryption. Information and voice calls are delivered through the public Internet using voice over Internet protocols (VoIP), meaning users stay connected anywhere and everywhere – in the office, on the road, or working from home.

For this reason, you can be assured that communications will never go down because of a single network outage or hardware failure; MiCloud Flex features a high-availability deployment or available geo-redundancy for enhanced disaster recovery.

3. Speedy Provision

When you need information quickly, Google leads in speed and availability. Google Cloud has a 99.999% service level agreement (SLA), the highest standard for monthly uptime provided to users. Intensely monitored data centers and large dedicated data pipelines ensure low latency and almost zero downtime across Google Cloud products.

Additionally, Google Cloud is considered a top performer across most tests, benchmarks, and categories for performance and scalability that stress CPU, memory, disk, and networking resources in the cloud. MiCloud Flex’s fully managed, serverless offerings eliminate operational complexity, making Google Cloud easier to adopt and use.

4. Continuous Innovation

Leading the pack of big technology players across the globe, Google is at the forefront of research for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT), all while maintaining and improving its host of industry-leading products across the cloud.

MiCloud Flex Contact Center leverages Google AI capability that integrates multiple tools and resources seamlessly to generate deep insights into data and performance. With serverless data analytics and a machine learning platform guaranteed by Google Cloud, our contact center platform can turn your data into actionable insights with increased efficiency, simplicity and mobility, making for innovation within and without your organization.

5. Geographic Reach

Staying connected across the globe is no problem for the robust number of Google Cloud data centers developed, maintained, and expanded by Google annually. Mitel has carefully selected a subset of these centers focused on delivering MiCloud Flex based in specific country rollouts, including 20 regions, 61 zones, and 134 network edge locations, with more on the way in the future. With an extensive, resilient network of data centers, deployments and interconnectivity for international customers is not a problem for the leading cloud communication and collaboration solution.

Mitel + Google Cloud + 4Sight = MiCloud Flex

MiCloud Flex represents the best of two leaders and innovators in business technology. By collaboration between Mitel and Google, 4Sight can offer businesses a complete, reliable private cloud unified communication and collaboration solution. Your employees will work smarter and more efficiently no matter where they are, and your IT team will be confident that all communications are secure, reliable and adaptable to every business need.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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UC & C: The Secret Behind Every Great Customer Experience

Experience is everything. For your employees and your customers, their loyalty to you hinges on receiving positive treatment. To stay competitive in our increasingly saturated marketplace, and keep productivity and profitability high, experience is king. Making it easy to engage with your brand, and within your workplace, is an effective way to boost customer and employee experience. That’s where a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) system comes in.

Better For Employees

Your staff are the heart of your businesses. And to them work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword; it’s driving their choices. People want to work more productively, without having to work for longer. In the US, one in ten workers is spending over 50 hours a week on work-related tasks. Across the Atlantic in the UK, the outlook is similar, with 60% of people saying they work longer hours than they’d like to.

And it goes beyond simply the number of hours worked, to the productivity within those hours. Every day, workers navigate multiple channels to keep track of messages: 13% of a typical working day is wasted as a result of inefficient and ineffective communications, leading to nearly £8,000 of wasted time per professional per year, according to the Mitel 2019 Workplace Productivity Report. If businesses deployed more intuitive, effective communication tools, 74% of employees believe it would improve their personal productivity, our report found.

This shift in employee priorities means the future is flexible. 83% of global workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working. But to make it work, communication and collaboration is key. Businesses need to have in place reliable, unified systems to support effective knowledge and idea sharing to empower employees to work in the way they want.

Better For Customers

Customer expectations are higher than ever. It’s never been easier to get the products and services they want, at their convenience, and with greater choice. A bad experience and one in three customers will go elsewhere, even if you’re a brand they love. Without exceptional customer experience that keeps up with agile competitors, organisations can expect to be left behind.

It’s estimated that 86% of customers will pay more for an excellent experience and, in some cases, that adds up to almost 20% more. Excellent experiences require consistency and simplicity. Each communication – whether it’s a call, a click, a text or email – needs to be engaged with quickly, smartly and consistently, so a customer doesn’t have to reiterate information about themselves or wait while you compile their profile. Disparate processes and communication systems can stop this from happening.

By adopting a unified communication system, businesses have one, accurate view of the customer, creating a joined-up experience that’s efficient to manage and meaningful to customers.

Better For Business

More productivity from staff and greater spend from customers all lead to a more successful business. For employees, it means more time for innovation, cutting downtime in navigating numerous communication apps. Plus, with improved collaboration and experience, expertise is more easily shared, more quickly. It makes for a better environment to produce new and exciting ideas, while allowing them to work in the flexible style that they prefer.

For customers, you become easier to interact with. They’ll be more likely to offer repeat business, and they’ll tell their friends about you.

Whether it’s to attract new talent, retain existing staff, gain increased spend from customers, or a combination of all these, a seamless UC&C system delivers the experience consumers and staff expect. And the seamless nature of a unified tool lowers operating costs too, eliminating multiple licenses and reducing IT maintenance costs.

Discover A More Connected Future

At 4Sight, we understand that you’re focused on driving change and we know it’s your responsibility to improve both employee engagement and customer experience. With increased expectations and demand for a seamless workflow across platforms and devices, wherever users are located, you need the power to choose a technology solution that delivers confident collaboration, while integrating with your existing systems.

Creating a workplace that delivers the right experience for customers and employees, as well as achieving fast ROI, requires choice. At 4Sight, we can offer you choice by being more flexible than anyone else. We work within your existing network to let you choose how you move to the cloud, and how and where you’d like us to support your culture of flexible working, so you and your employees can work in the way you prefer.

We make communications simple for our customers. Using our agile approach, you can rely on us to meet your unique business requirements, eliminating technical complexity along the way. We can help you drive your business forward, delivering easy communication between teams for better idea sharing and productivity, and improving the customer experience across every touchpoint.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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What To Do: In a Pandemic

With COVID-19 spreading across borders and news headlines, concerns are rising about how to best stop the virus. Given the disease’s aggressive nature, WHO has recommended that every citizen do their part to keep things contained―whether it be more diligent hand washing, putting a temporary stop to travel, canceling events or just staying home.

“The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus.” WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus maintains that, with global solidarity, coronavirus could be the first pandemic in history that is successfully controlled through individual caretaking measures.

Business across the globe are racing to do their part. In large part this means adopting a more remote work culture. And we see this happening in more frequency as news of coronavirus grows. Amazon has asked its Seattle employees to work from home. Seattle-based rock band Pearl Jam has postponed its North American tour. The University of Washington will close campus once staff and students leave for spring break, opting to continue classes online for the remainder of the semester. And in Austin, Texas, city health officials have cancelled the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.

Although it appears that remote working is picking up speed, for many businesses this is bound to be more challenging than expected. In a recent webinar, analyst firm Gartner conducted a snap poll of the human resource leaders from Asia/Pacific who attended. Ninety-one percent indicated they’d implemented work from home arrangements in the wake of the coronavirus. However, they also said their two biggest challenges were a lack of technology infrastructure and discomfort from employees in remote working.

Like you, 4Sight has been monitoring the evolving impact of the coronavirus and forming a complete understanding of how our customers will be affected. As part of our commitment to help you continue working with consistency and peace of mind, below we’ve shared some tips and guidelines that we use to make working from home more comfortable and effective:

Choose The Right Tools

An effective remote working setup is one that is just as good as at the office. And that requires the right combination of tools and processes. There’s no one-trick pony; some days video is what you need and other times chat and file sharing are more productive. The right setup for remote working will give you an array of options along with a good connection to your team and contacts. Let’s take a look at a combination that we find works well:

Cloud-Based Solution

All too often, employees working from home find with dismay that the documents or information they really needed are saved on the computer back at the office. It’s one of the most common challenges of working remotely. Yet when documents are stored in the cloud, employees can access them from any location. And it’s not just documents that are easily accessible. With the cloud, remote workers can also tap into the organization’s vast store of information, from team calendars and workspaces to a colleague’s spreadsheet and the corporate directory.

Meeting Tools

The right meeting tool can transform remote interactions into natural collaborations. MiTeam Meetings, for example, functions seamlessly so it feels like everyone’s working in the same room. One-click video calls allow for ad hoc, face-to-face conversations. You can all edit the same documents, stay updated on tasks, share screens and collaborate in real time.

An All-In-One Workspace

Perhaps the most valuable tool for remote working is one that lets you access voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and team collaboration from a single application. With a communications experience that’s consistent whether you’re at the office, mobile or at home, it doesn’t matter were you work. Connecting and collaborating becomes just as effortless and seamless.

Adjusting to remote working is simpler with this kind of persistent workspace. Capabilities like web chat and file sharing are always-on, so you can collaborate in real time. Team members can review, update and expand on project information. You can access project timelines, meeting notes, task lists and ad hoc project comments. Ultimately, you everything you need to interact and get work done without interruption.

Build The Remote Work Culture

Although remote working isn’t new, you and your team may not be prepared to work from home for longer stretches of time―possibly even weeks or months. Here are three ways you can help them adapt more quickly.

Help Everyone Get The Proper Setup

Having the right collaboration tool is the first step. It’s a good idea to survey employees and understand more about their home offices and whether their work environment is set up properly. For example, do they have a separate space to work away from the rest of the household? Is the Wi-Fi speed adequate for connecting via video or downloading large documents? The survey results will help you make appropriate recommendations for setting up home offices as well as understand what gaps you might need to fill.

Set Guidelines For Communication

In the office, managers have an easier time monitoring employee activity. For example, they know when a member of their team steps away from their desk to get a cup of coffee. But in a remote work scenario, if a manager can’t reach their employee she may jump to the conclusion that the work isn’t getting done.

Remote work requires a certain degree of trust, and transparency helps build trust. Set expectations with clear communication guidelines. For instance, ask employees to set status messages each time they step away from their desk or agree on what comprises an adequate response time.

Practice Ahead Of A Pandemic

The time to start building a remote working culture is now, before a pandemic infects your operations. Train your employees to work remotely by sending them home to work for a week or more. A mandated trial will allow you to work out the kinks, ensuring that your business will continue operating smoothly even during a crisis.

There’s another benefit of adopting a work-at-home work culture: you’ll be prepared for a future that is likely to involve a significant portion of the workforce working remotely. As Gartner points out, demand for remote working will increase as Generation Z enters the workforce.

You will need to build a culture and infrastructure that allows employees to communicate and collaborate effortlessly as if they’re in the same room, even if they are miles or time zones apart. For this reason implementing a work-from-home model serves two purposes: it enhances your ability to weather a pandemic and it paves the way for the workforce of the future.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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The Essential Guide to Private Cloud

private vs public cloud

If you’re considering migrating your business communications to private cloud, you’re not alone. Private cloud provides strength and security, powerful integrations and budgeting flexibility for countless businesses worldwide.

However, before deciding if private cloud is right for your organisation, arm yourself with knowledge about topics like:

• Connecting to your private cloud communications system
• Enhancing your private cloud connection with SD-WAN
• Assessing your business requirements

Our Essential Guide to Private Cloud for Business Communications has all that information and more. Plus, learn how FC Liverpool simplifies the fan journey and create seamless interactions with the right cloud communications.

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Compare today’s Top 3 Enterprise UCaaS services

Mitel Tolly Report

MiCloud Flex vs. 8×8 Virtual Office X8 and Ringcentral Premium

Tolly Enterprises compared Mitel’s MiCloud Flex to offerings from 8×8 and RingCentral. The report found that the Mitel solution was comparable to or exceeded its competitors.

Get details on pricing, security, contact center, collaboration and app integrations that maximize business intelligence.

Spoiler alert: Mitel’s MiCloud Flex stands out as both the best value in enterprise UC and the leader in interactive responsiveness. Only Mitel lets customers connect via Facebook, IoT or speech-enabled IVR. Only Mitel’s mobility untethers agents, supervisors and teams for ultimate collaboration flexibility.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

For more information about the new Mitel MiCloud Flex click here, alternatively please call us on +44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com. 

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Mitel Achieves #2 UCaaS Market Share Position Worldwide

Mitel announced today that is has been named the #2 unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider worldwide. According to the latest data from Synergy Research Group, Mitel is now within one percentage point of #1 market share position based on subscribers.

This news is another foremost milestone in organisation’s emergence as a global UCaaS company. In the third quarter of 2017, Mitel also reached the one million subscriber mark for worldwide cloud subscribers.

In today’s cloud-driven world, offering communications on an as-a-service basis has never been more important or relevant,” said Mitel CEO Rich McBee. ” Mitel’s emergence as a UCaaS market leader, accelerated by the acquisition of ShoreTel and its UCaaS solution, was perfectly timed with the market’s growth and migration to the cloud-based technologies driving customers’ digital transformations. This recognition is an extraordinary way to close a transformational year for Mitel.”

Mitel provides organisations of all sizes with cloud communications solutions combined with productivity and team collaboration applications, enabling businesses to work more effectively and better serve their customers. This recognition from Synergy further validates Mitel’s global transition and execution to a cloud-based business strategy for its customers.

Mitel has set a high bar for growth these past few years quickly cracking the million-customer mark,” said Jeremy Duke, founder and chief analyst of Synergy Research Group. “The UCaaS market is moving at an accelerated pace. We continue to see cloud growth and innovation driven across the industry as leaders, such as Mitel, continue to help customers digitally transform their organizations and operations.”

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