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How Video Technology Enhances the Remote Worker's Experience

by Steven Ferrigno

March 14 2013 - Yahoo's recent announcement to ban remote working firmwide, starting from June 2013, has been the topic of a lot of media coverage and a reason for concern for many current flexible workers. Yahoo claim that "speed and quality are often sacrificed when working from home" but I would argue that if you provide the right technology - which is definitely available - it is possible for employers to support remote workers and make sure they are productive, involved and in touch.

While Yahoo might have some specific and justifiable reasons for resorting to this action and completely pull the plug on remote working, it still seems a backwards step at this time and age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever. The trend of teleworking cannot be reversed without running the risk of losing talent to the competition. The majority of people still prefer to work in the office - those who ask to work remotely have usually a valid reason to do so. How can executives retain talented workers who find the daily commute into work to be a challenge, or have other genuine reasons why remote working is better for them? Would it not make more sense to invest in the technology that allows employees to overcome this challenge instead of setting up perks like free gadgets, in-house gyms, hairdressers, beauticians, nurseries and game rooms aimed at keeping people in the office?

The efficient use of modern computer technology can make it possible for business users to work and communicate effectively from any physical location. Video technology in particular allows employees to have a setup at home that makes them equally as productive and close as if they were in the office, vie teleconferencing for example. There is research data that ( shows that the use of video is growing exponentially worldwide - people are using video at work via corporate social media and enterprise tools for a variety of purposes - primarily internal communications and training and development. It is estimated that by 2016 companies will stream 16 hours of video per worker per month. The steady growth of the use of video for corporate communications is evidence that people are these days communicating effectively without having to sit at a desk in the office or having to meet "in person". Training, for instance, can also be delivered successfully without the need for people to travel either to the office or to an outsourced location, which would have to be booked at a cost.

My company, Qumu, provides enterprise video solutions to global companies like Dow Chemical, eBay, Vodafone, Nokia and Glaxo Smith Kline among others and these video platforms make collaboration in the workplace more dynamic and effective. Video creates an efficient, centralised location for all enterprise content. Add this to existing tools like SharePoint, for instance, and you can promote, download, watch, distribute and comment on enterprise content that can be shared irrespective of whether you are at your desk at home, your desk in the office or on the move.

Video provides a common collaborative platform that helps employees function as a single entity - they can connect instantly via video and do not need to be physically together to be "one" company. Through video, information can be delivered and received in real time, wherever you are and from whichever device. Video is also fast which means productivity is not affected but, if anything, increased. There is also the benefit of saving on travel and office space, reduced sick absence and an increase in the number of women who find it easier to return to work after maternity leave.

Working remotely does not mean that an employee won't set foot in the office ever again; there will always be occasions when remote workers are expected to be in the office for a particular meeting or event. The simple fact that they are on flexible working arrangements implies "flexibility" is expected of them too and it is not just the employer's prerogative. It all comes down to common sense really. To say, therefore, that everybody needs to be hands on deck and that no one can work from home might be right for Yahoo at this point in time but it is not right for most situations. A total ban on teleworking could have a negative impact on your workforce; if people get the right balance between remote and office working, they will be happier, feel that they are valued and that they have their employer's trust and they will consequently be motivated to work in a responsible way and to deliver to high standards in return.

About the author

Steven Ferrigno

Steven Ferrigno is VP, Qumu EMEA. He has 14 years' experience selling enterprise technology in the supply chain, retail and industry sectors. He spent the last 5 years at Oracle Retail as a Senior Director running a business unit in Eastern and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to that Steven spent 9 years as a top sales executive for EXE Technologies in Europe selling supply chain software to enterprises. He continued with EXE after it was acquired by SSA, and later, Infor where he acted in the capacity of EMEA Director of SC Sales. Steven began his career on Wall Street in the Foreign Exchange market. He spent 15 years working as a currency broker in three financial centres; New York, Frankfurt and London. Steven is an executive advisor and management consultant for Weigandt-Consulting, a retail specialist consulting company in Germany. Steven is a graduate of University of Delaware Business School and resides in the UK.



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