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March 12, 2013

Innovation vs. Operations: Changing Our Perceptions of Remote Working

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

We’ve all heard it before – there’s a time and place for everything. Usually, we tell ourselves this when we’re spoon deep in a bucketful of ice cream after a harsh breakup or when we don’t get the dream job we so hopefully applied for, but did you ever think about applying this motto to the way your business runs its operations? Indeed, there is a time and place for everything, and according to Stephen Epstein (News - Alert), chief marketing officer at Avistar Communications, this has to do with when your employees are in and out the office.

“The office doesn’t look like it used to,” Epstein noted in his most recent article, “Face to Face Collaboration Can Take Place Away from the Office.” Meanwhile, remote working has been highly touted for many reasons, including:

Increased productivity: Cutting out the middle-men of transportation and in-office distractions allow you to not only put in more hours during work, but enable you to produce more quality content.  

Increased Flexibility: At-home parents, those with physical limitations or restrictions and the elderly are only a sampling of people who can truly benefit from the advantage of flexibly working from home full time if they otherwise would not be able to do so. Keep in mind that remote working doesn’t always mean working from home, either. Remote workers can do so while on the road or from an off-site office – all which still embrace the flexibility of being able to work where you need and when you need to.

Cost-Savings: On the business side, corporations significantly save on the space and technology used to accommodate a packed-to-the-brim workspace. Additionally, if your company is trying to go green, making a dent in the fuel used for your employees to drive to and from work is a great start to implementing this initiative. On the employee side, working from home means cost-savings on gas, car wear-and-tear and more.

However, all of the above wasn’t enough for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to implement a new on-site working policy that would request all of her fellow “Yahoos” to work in an office by the first day of June, 2013. In a recent TMCnet report, Senior Editor and industry expert Senior Bernstein explained, “In a real-time world, one would think that the value of remote communications and the ability to use it for the creation of competitive sustainable business advantage would be an asset and not a liability.”

Apparently not; however, I was able to speak with Epstein further on where the value really lies in remote working and how to distinguish where your business should be positioned on the very wide and varied spectrum of working outside of the cubicle.

“We recognize that in any business there are times we do need to be together,” Epstein explains,” and we recognize that there are times when people and workers don’t necessarily have to be together.”

Epstein adds that one way to definitively decide if having your employees work remotely is right for you is to take a look at your business’ innovation verses its operations. He explains:

The reason we make that distinction is that when it’s time to innovate, it’s time to get people together, but when it’s time to run the operation, there are probably more efficient ways than forcing people to commute to a central location and being in one office when at the end of the day, they’re just running an operation and they don’t need to necessarily directly collaborate.

In other words, there’s a time for remote working and there’s a time to work in the office; we can’t always be innovating. Sometimes –in fact, most times – what we’re doing is in every way, shape and form completely self-explanatory: working – no more, no less.

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete answer to the question of whether embracing remote work or agreeing with Mayer’s policies are right for you. What we do know, however, is that this is a classic case-by-case scenario, as are most things in business.

Avistar (News - Alert) is highly touted as offering “visibly smarter communications.” The company embraces a unique software-only approach, combining the industry’s most efficient bandwidth management technology to deliver you the most cost-efficient and yet flexible, robust and reliable video communications experience on the market today.

Image via Avistar

Speaking of videoconferencing technologies, Epstein explains that this kind of powerful face-to-face communications technology significantly increases workday productivity, allows us to better manage complex problems that arise, and enables us to optimally communicate with not only each other, but our clients as well. Videoconferencing has allowed remote working to be much more productive than it ever was or could be in the past, Epstein reasons.

Working remotely means so much more than many of us understand. “Our customers use technologies like Avistar and the videoconferencing solutions we produce to be more productive,” he says, “And one way to make their business more productive is to give people the flexibility to work remotely, as well as when working from the road while traveling or working from a client’s office.”

One such technology from the company is Avistar ConnectWare, a cloud-based solution that delivers cloud-based voice and videoconferencing to make rich face-to-face, real-time collaboration and communication possible anywhere and at any time. “The cloud is an ever-present, ubiquitous piece of technology,” Epstein explains, “and we essentially took our technology, which is very interoperable, to be very interoperable with other videoconferencing technologies.”

In other words, using Avistar ConnectWare, companies and workers alike can utilize Avistar’s platform to access a wide range of videoconferencing technologies anywhere and at any time for optimum efficiency.

Edited by Ashley Caputo
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