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One of the key trends spurring an increasingly mobile workforce is telecommuting. Already, 17.2 million people in the United States work from home or remotely at least one day a month, according to a survey by the nonprofit organization WorldatWork. And interest in telecommuting is growing.
Nearly 60 percent of information workers across the U.S. say their employers have a formal policy that allows them to work from home, according to a recent survey from Microsoft. What’s more, workers say they want to telecommute twice as much as they already do.
Among the benefits of telecommuting include greater employee productivity and satisfaction. Employees who don’t have to fight traffic are likely to use that extra time working. They also experience less stress and better work-life balance. Companies save money in facility and overhead costs. And they increase their sustainability by reducing their automobile emissions.
Microsoft Office 365 creates a more productive mobile workforce by providing employees access to email, documents, contacts, and calendars – using a variety of devices from virtually any location. Information workers can see who’s available, send instant messages, share documents, and collaborate on projects with other employees whether they’re in the office, on the road, or in their homes.
One company that’s using Office 365 to support its telecommuters is Patagonia, a global provider of outdoor apparel and gear. IT staff at Patagonia wanted a communications solution that would support the company’s environmental initiative called the “Drive-Less” program. The worldwide program calls for employees to reduce their carbon footprint by using alternative transportation, such as bikes or busses, to get to work. As part of this initiative, the company is also giving employees the opportunity to work from home more often.
The company pilot tested Office 365, including Microsoft Lync Online and Microsoft Exchange Online, to see if it presented a viable solution. Pilot participants found they could immediately communicate in real-time with their colleagues through the capabilities in Lync Online, including instant messaging, PC-to-PC calls, and audio and video conferencing. Employees can access these capabilities through presence indicators and contact cards that appear in most Office applications and on SharePoint sites.
Michael Busch, Director of Technology for Patagonia, calls the real-time communication capabilities within Lync Online “a huge win for our business.” Busch believes the video conference feature will speed up the product design process by enabling product designers to instantly share clear visual designs of products with other participants, no matter where they are located.
As more employees elect to work from home, they will be able to take advantage of the communication capabilities of Office 365 to find and communicate instantly with other available co-workers. Says Busch: “We need to support flexible work options for our employees to work at home or outside the office. We believe capabilities in Office 365, including Office Professional Plus, will be critical to this effort.”
To learn more about how Patagonia is using Office 365, please check out the full case study and the accompanying video. Is your organization’s workforce becoming more mobile? If so, what is driving this trend, and how are you using technology to support it? Please share your experience.
One of the key trends spurring an increasingly mobile workforce is telecommuting. Already, 17