Open Source Voip
One direct impact of all this social distancing, not traveling, and working from home that is stark is the reduction in carbon emissions in the environment. It’s noticeable, dramatic in cases (such as people in Punjab being able to see the Himalayas for the first time in decades) and global.
Obviously, knowledge worker type employees not going to a building to work and working from home instead, and not traveling to see customers in trains, planes, or automobiles, is having a large impact on the environment. Companies that would have never embraced WFH before are starting to understand that WFH is possible, may not negatively impact the business, and may even have a positive long-term impact. For them.
For instance, employees may be happier since they don’t have to commute and spend time in traffic. And companies utilizing current technology available, such as video, to help customers remotely, or have team collaboration meetings, obviates at least some of the need for truck rolls or plane trips to go see them, thus saving the company money. Suddenly, work from home is more interesting since there may also be a financial benefit to the company.
These companies responded to a crisis by utilizing Unified Communications (UC), which gives the ability for employees to work from home as if they are in the office, or gives employees more tools such as video to help customers remotely or do team collaboration. They did it and utilized UC because they had to. There wasn’t some altruistic reasons behind these decisions. It was just figuring out how to move forward.
However, these work from home scenarios created less carbon emissions, something surely positive for the world. And therein lies an opportunity. Now that these companies are doing it, and in many cases, doing it successfully, will some of them embrace it and go on the path towards carbon neutrality? It’s a leap for sure, but when things “get back to normal,” could companies put policies in place to adopt WFH as a part of their company culture? That is highly probable. And if they do that, could they then take more steps and go for carbon neutrality?
Let’s examine first how could a company cut their carbon emissions? There are indirect ways of positively impacting the environment, such as recycling everything in your office (such as paper and aluminum), so reuse can occur. And using coffee cups instead of Styrofoam cups. Those are but a couple, but there are numerous examples I’m sure you can think of.
But there are also direct ways, such as changing air conditioning and heating even one degree as an example.
And there are companies exploring other ways, such as having smaller physical buildings to work in. We are already seeing trends where employees don’t each have an office or even their own cubicle. There are simply large work space areas where you go sit. Some of this is designed to try and foster better teamwork, while some is more practical given the need to try and cut monthly lease costs, or because more and more people were working from home anyway so there isn’t a need anymore for every single person to have their own space.
Whatever the original reason, the office square footage per employee has been decreasing, even before this crisis. This also has an impact on less heating and air conditioning required. In other words, for example, if work teams rotated when they came in an office, thus requiring less overall square footage the company would need to use, there would be multiple benefits to the environment. Less carbon emissions due to less employee travel and less heating/air conditioning. That’s a step, but not all the way to carbon neutrality.
So let’s say your company wants to embrace this. What does being carbon neutral even mean? It means having a net zero carbon dioxide emissions. How can a company become carbon neutral? Companies can start with the ideas like above, but also then support a myriad of carbon offset projects or initiatives that offsets what your company is putting into the environment. Companies are also taking it upon themselves to go further, driving to purchase clean energy, such as from wind or solar. A company can even strive to become carbon neutral certified.
All big ideas, but ideas that could turn into reality. And Unified Communications is an important pillar that can enable this to happen, because without UC, the FH from WFH isn’t really possible.
The post WFH, Potential for Carbon Neutrality, and How UC Fits into All of That appeared first on Sangoma.
As a Unified Communications (UC) provider, Sangoma has seen the potential for workspaces to stay more connected than ever while becoming flexible enough to allow employees to work from anywhere. So, we’re no strangers to working from home. Here’s some general tips for working remotely.Routine
The biggest pitfall employees working from home for the first time can encounter is the initial dissonance of trying to stay focused on work while surrounded by their leisure environment. It’s all too easy to slip into bad habits like inconsistent sleep schedules and wanting to “clock out” early.
Staying disciplined by sticking to a schedule and staying focused throughout the day actually makes the transition to working from home easier. If you start to mix work and leisure, the lines can begin to blur between the two, leading to either slacking or burnout.Disconnect Regularly & Take Breaks
Just like going into work, it’s not normal to sit for 8 hours straight. When in the office, you, no doubt, get up from time to time and walk around, take a coffee break, chat with a coworker, and stay stretched and refreshed. In just the same way, it’s important to get up every so often to move around even when you’re working from home.
Get up and take a walk around the block. Actually take your lunch hour and cook something. Play with your pet. It’ll do wonders for your mental health while keeping your mind fresh for the work at hand.Make Time for Yourself
Similar to the other two points, it’s important to make time for yourself, especially for those working from homes occupied by other people. In these types of situations, it can be all too easy to slip from being connected to colleagues to spending time with family with no time to collect your thoughts and take care of yourself. So, make sure to keep a solid distinction between work hours and home hours, and schedule in time to look after your own needs. This will keep you happy and productive, whether you’re working from home temporarily or full-time.Goals & Productivity
Set daily and weekly goals
At the start of every week and every day, identify your top priorities and physically write them down, highlighting especially the top 3 or so. This will ensure you stay motivated working towards a goal and ensure you don’t lose sight of the big picture of the business. This will also help you remain focused – especially when working in a home environment where there may be many more distractions than usual.Stay connected and responsive
Without the possibility of popping into each others’ offices, it’s vital to ensure you remain connected and responsive. Yes, it’s fine (even good) to stop responding to chats for a while to tackle some project, but making sure you are in sync with your team, answering their questions and getting their insight, will ensure that you stay engaged with your work and avoid losing morale or direction.Schedule regular check-ins
At the same time, though, be careful not to rely on random messages, emails, and phone calls to stay connected as a cohesive team. Take the time to schedule regular check-ins with all the people you need to stay in sync with. This will eliminate a lot of headaches and ensure that productive collaboration can continue outside the walls of the business office.Environment & Sanity
Dedicate a workspace in your home
One of the best ways to stay disciplined, on a schedule, and maintain a healthy work-life balance is to designate one part of your house as your home office, even if it’s just a table away from the high-traffic areas of the house.
Perhaps you already have a home office? Make sure it doesn’t share use with other activities, especially during work hours. Many are accustomed to using their offices for hobbies or personal paperwork, so it’s important not to get distracted by personal activities that could sideline the work you need to get done.Keep drinks and snacks at hand
One of the most dangerous journeys one can take while working from home is to run to the fridge outside of taking a break. En route and back, you’ll encounter many distractions and sidetracks that it may be better just to wait for a break. Or… just keep a small supply of snacks and drinks with you to keep you refreshed. Heck, move the coffee pot into your home office if you can. Then your breaks aren’t always to eat and drink, and you can snack while working without having to run to the fridge and back. Win-win.Don’t feel guilty about ambience or entertainment
Finally (and this is especially important for new remote workers), don’t feel guilty about doing perfectly appropriate things that you couldn’t do in a business office. Open the windows wide, run that noisy fan, play your music without headphones. In your home office, you control the environment, both for good and for bad. So have fun while staying productive, and you’ll find that remote work may be what you always wanted.
Interested in a Communications Solution that Keeps Remote Workers Connected?
No matter what line of work your business prevails in, Sangoma has a business communications platform for you. Switchvox is a Unified Communications (UC) business phone system that integrates all the ways colleagues stay connected to each other and customers into a single platform. Best of all, it’s available in both on-premise and hosted in the Cloud, using the same source code. That means it’s incredibly easy to get started, and most users are able to use it from day one. Check it out!
At Sangoma, we are already in our 6th week of WFH. Given we are a Unified Communications company, it’s been relatively smooth for us since we have a phone system that enables a softphone to your laptop or mobile phone with our office phone number, we have conferencing on that system, etc.
But a lot has happened in these just over these past few weeks. It seems like we started this months and months ago, but it’s just been a few weeks!
So what have we done:
- We started WFH on March 16
- Sangoma put out our Covid19 response via a post on our website and through email the next day
- We were getting many requests (some from existing customers) about how our systems can enable WFH instead of just being a “phone system”
- We put up a WFH / Remote working page on our website
- Support put up a Wiki for our customers
- We announced wireless headsets on March 31. (This was always in the plan, and we were going to announce this at Enterprise Connect)
- We announced our Video Conferencing Service, Sangoma Meet, which is free to all users at this time.
In review, our systems can help WFH because of the following:
- Your business phone number can go to the softphone on your laptop or your mobile phone, enabling regular business calls to get answered by the right people in your company. The softphone is part of the system people have already bought, so no additional money was required to get these people up and running if they were not using it.
- The softphone is not just a softphone either. It’s really a softphone and collaboration client. So you can chat on it as well.
- We have wireless headsets to help you roam around your house while on phone calls.
- We have a video conferencing service that you can use to collaborate with co-workers, keep in touch with your family, whatever…
- You can take your phone that you use at work home. It needs to be connected to the internet, it needs power, and the admin needs to do some work, but we’ve had customers doing that as well (or buying a 2nd phone to take home permanently now) quite a bit.
- Our UC systems have built-in conferencing. Again that is part of the system and is not an additional cost to use.
- You can enable the “find me, follow me” in case you need to send phone calls to your mobile phone number or your home phone number.
So, yes, a lot has happened in a month. I can’t wait until we go back to what we knew as normal, but no one really knows when that will be right now, so in the meantime, we’re all working hard to make this work.
As I was trying to figure out what to write about this week, I was thinking that doing business over a video calls is good, but not quite the same as FTF. And thinking about tradeshows that have been postponed or cancelled and the longer term business impact of that. Time will tell. But as we enter our 6th week of this, I, like many others, are probably starting to have a harder time with this.
Like everyone else, I think talking in person with someone to find out or learn new things is why I go to tradeshows, and conversation over a video conferencing solution like Sangoma Meet isn’t quite the same – it’s a bit too formal.
So I thought about the last tradeshow I attend, which was IT Expo. There, I did a stand-up interview with Rich Tehrani at IT Expo. It’s always good seeing and talking with Rich. We’ve known each other a long time. While I’m sure Rich would do a video call with me if I pinged him, it’s not quite the same as seeing him and talking to him.
Anyway, you can watch the interview here.
In summary though, Rich was asking about how it’s going at Sangoma. And everything is going well. We’re getting organic growth with our UC products. But he also asked about integrations of some M&A we did the past few years. Soon after we bought Digium, there was concern in the channel about both PBXact and Switchvox, because these are two different UC/PBX platforms and the concern was whether both would continue on. The channel now understands both products are still there – they serve different purposes and different target audiences. And then in October we bought VoIP Innovations and that integration is going well as we’ve added more resources to the SIP Trunking business. And then he asked me if we had other M&A on the horizon, like he always does, and this time I surprised him and I was like “ah… we just bought .e4”.
Sangoma is Offering Sangoma Meet Video Conferencing Service – Early Access and Free Right Now for Anyone to Use
Unified Communications systems, as I’ve blogged about numerous times already, with their ability to offer softphones with your business number, conferencing, collaboration, presence, and mobile phones that also utilize your business phone number, are at the forefront for enabling this new work remote / work from home environment we’re all experiencing right now.
We’re starting to see more and more articles about missing the sense of community, camaraderie, and really just necessary human interaction that comes with chit-chat at a water cooler, coffee station, or lunch room, and starting to see more and more articles about how to combat loneliness as we self-isolate right now. The need to be connected is more significant than ever now.
At Sangoma, we recognize this because we see this happening in our company as well. UC has most certainly helped. But there’s been a key ingredient missing. One way to help with overcoming the missing sense of community and human interaction is to utilize video more. Unified Communications, as readers know, is at the heart of what we do at Sangoma. Our UC hadn’t until this point handled video conferencing, but it’s been in our roadmap and we’ve been hard at work on it.
Given what is going on out there, and the large need we saw for it right now, we accelerated the development of it. We have been using beta versions for video conferencing ourselves, and we saw the positive impact it had made for those of us who had used it. And it’s ready now for a broader usage even though we will continually be adding features to it in the coming weeks and months.
And so that’s why today we’ve decided to make our video conferencing and collaboration service available in Early Access phase to our partners, and friends and family, and blog readers. For Free. Your feedback during this time is important, so please insure when you exit you fill out the feedback form.
Sangoma Meet™ is our video conferencing and collaboration solution. Go to https://meet.sangoma.com to get started. It is a stand-alone service that can be used independently or with our award-winning UC solutions.
Once Sangoma Meet goes GA, we’ll continue to offer it for free for as long as this new normal is normal. No gimmicks or anything – we are just trying to help as we’re all just trying to figure out the best way to stay connected. To be used with your company, your work teams, or even your family.
If you want to use Sangoma Meet, use it! Get going with your teams or your family and regain some of that camaraderie and sense of community.
Sangoma Meet is a web-based, multi-party (up to 50) video conferencing solution based on Jitsi Meet that can be used with any WebRTC compatible browser, such as Chrome or Edge. Sangoma Meet also fully encrypts its password-protected video conferences, and uses HD Video as the default video format. Optional calendar integration and dial-in capability to the video conference from a separate phone, will be available shortly, and will also offer enhanced security using a PIN.
By the way, UC will certainly continue to evolve, and I’ve written in the past about some of what I see out there. Rest assured, Sangoma will continue to evolve our UC solutions to meet the ever-changing requirements of UC, just like we’ve released this video conferencing solution.
At any rate, try it. It’s free so you might as well try it. Go to https://meet.sangoma.com to get started. Just set up your first video conference with your team and see how it goes. Have a virtual happy hour or just have everyone see each other. I have to go to a virtual coffee break with my team right now….
In the auto industry, there are many teams within a dealership hoping to achieve a singular goal: sell cars. And doing so today requires sales and service departments to separate themselves from the competition.
If you’ve ever worked at a dealership, you understand the sense of urgency that comes with each deal. Catering to customers, following up with questions and resources, and the overall nurturing process is of the utmost importance – and so is having the right communications tools to do the job.
A Unified Communications (UC) phone system can offer staff plenty of features to help them reach success in closing deals, but mobile softphone apps and mobility features are of the utmost importance to this process.
Keep your sales team available – no matter where they are
Chances are, your sales team is constantly on the go and hardly ever at their desk. Whether they’re on test drives or showing cars on the lot, a mobile softphone allows them to continue to receive calls from their work extension without giving customers their personal cell phone number. This ensures that your sales team never has to worry about missed calls sinking a deal or the woes of an overflowing voicemail.
Utilize Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices
Whether you’re looking to save money or give staff a bit more freedom, mobile softphones give dealerships the option to enact Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Rather than giving each individual a company-assigned mobile device, let your employees use their own devices with a mobile softphone app.
Manage multiple locations without being tethered to your desk
For GMs, mobility features offer the ability to transfer or forward calls between multiple devices, meaning you can switch from your desk phone to your mobile phone (and vice versa) without interrupting a call. And if you’re going between dealerships, you won’t return to your desk to find a slew of missed calls! You can focus your time on more pressing tasks rather than playing catch up.
Enable remote work
While many essential parts of a car deal are better handled in a dealership environment, today’s car buyers expect some flexibility, especially with new forms of internet car sales disrupting the industry. That flexibility to sell cars online and over the phone, while unfortunately lacking all of the in-person, “show-and-smell” effect that test drives and walk-arounds can have, does enable salespeople to enjoy the flexibility of working remotely from the dealership. Mobility features provide these salespeople with all the tools they need to prospect and sell from wherever, with the customer never having to worry about coming to a dealership sales floor.
If you’re interested in what a UC business phone system can do for your dealership, take a look at Switchvox. With powerful mobility features, CRM integration, and an abundance of contact center features, you can ensure your sales and service teams are well-equipped to provide the best customer service every time.
Want to learn more about how Switchvox can improve productivity at your dealership? Download our free guide now! You’ll learn how Switchvox can fit within tight budgets, connect multiple locations, help your team manage high call volumes, and more.
There’s a lot going on now, and for this week at least, I didn’t want to write another remote work or WFH type of blog. So I figured I’d take a look at some new technology that we’d all be using someday soon in your house or your enterprise. So I zeroed in on Wi-Fi 6 as a good thing to write about.
If you haven’t already, you’re going to start hearing about Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi previously had naming schemes like 802.11 and some letters. It was pretty techy. But the Wi-Fi alliance decided to make it simpler so the new version announced last year is called Wi-Fi 6 (would have been 802.11ax), and the next one will be Wi-Fi 7, etc.
To use it, you need a Wi-Fi 6 device (like an Apple iPhone 11 or a Samsung Galaxy Note 10) and you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 capable router.
But why use it in first place? Faster speed obviously is a key thing. But with more and more households having multiple Wi-Fi devices (right now, a US household has an average of 11 connected devices) with no end in sight for the increase, slower internet could occur if all of these devices are on at one time. Probably a lot of readers have noticed this – I certainly have when all my kids are home at the same time. And you may have noticed this is you have a lot of people working at home right now. A Wi-Fi 6 router is designed to help data flow to each of the devices, effectively keeping the speed going.
And if it can do that at home, and at a public venue (an issue I’m sure we’ve all experienced!), it can certainly help at work, with many of us now simply connected via Wi-Fi instead of an ethernet cable.
There are also improvements to battery life and security.
So we’ll start to see this coming into work. You may get questions about it or may be wondering about it. First, we need to be on devices that support it. And then the infrastructure the devices connect to need to support it. And then we’ll be using it.