With our being in the midst of tough economic times and with the rowing desire to reduce overall environmental impacts, many Canadian businesses today are offering their employees the option of teleworking outside of the office.
According to a recent independent survey conducted by Zoomerang Market Research and sponsored by Mitel, titled Unified Communications Trends, more and more workplaces are using technology and the Internet to conduct everyday business tasks. The survey was conducted in August 2008 and included 428 Canadian respondents who work in professional or “white-collar” roles.
Vani Naidoo, solutions marketing manager at Mitel, said the survey was conducted so the company could gain a better understanding of where business and employee awareness levels currently lie with unified communications (UC).
“From our perspective, the general definition of UC is how people communicate to help facilitate business and other communications,” she said.
While the age of the survey respondents ranged from ages 18 to 65 and up, the median age range was between 25 to 54, Naidoo said. This age group, also known as Generation X and Y-ers, she said, are more comfortable using the Internet and UC-type technologies.
Of the respondents, 40 per cent said their employer offers them the option of working from another location other than their office. Also known as teleworking, this seems to be an increasingly common business decision of how to conduct business, Naidoo said.
“There’s an issue of concern with the economy and prices,” Naidoo said. “Society’s also starting to look at the environment and at cost-savings perspectives in terms of reducing the amount of gas being used while on the road.”
The biggest issue amongst Canadian businesses now, she continued, is figuring out how a business can “future-proof” its choices to find a solid infrastructure that will improve productivity and operational efficiencies long-term.
Of the 40 per cent of respondents who are given the option of teleworking, 36 per cent take advantage of it between 0-4 days per month. On the other hand, 22 per cent said they telework at least 16 times a month. Teleworking locations include the home, client sites, coffee shops, and hotels.
Naidoo said a number of different types of cost-savings come into play when teleworking is involved. Some 42 per cent of respondents estimated fuel savings of less than $25 a month. For businesses, the cost of real estate is also minimized as less space is needed if workers are working offsite at client sites or at home.
Earlier this week at VoiceCon, Mitel announced its new SiMple Personal Licensing (SMPL) role-based software licensing offerings, for its UC solutions. These role-based licensing schemes include UC Basic User, which is designed for shared phones, or for end-users to only need access to typical IP phone features, UC Standard User, which targets administrative staff and office workers who rely heavily on phone communications, and UC Advanced User, which provides extensive UC capabilities such as instant messaging, presence, Web conferencing, collaboration and more.
In addition, the company also announced four new UC products, which include Unified Communicator (UC) Express, a server-less, desktop UC client, UC Advanced, which integrates things such as presence, availability, audio and video conferencing with its Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP), UC Mobile, which allows for mobile calls to be placed over the enterprise network, and TeleCollaboration Solution, for businesses ranging from small to medium-sized (SMB), all the way to large enterprise.
Kevin Johnson, director of analyst relations at Mitel, said with this week’s launch of its new UC products, partners can make additional margins above and beyond what may have been traditionally made when just selling a point-product.
“The market and Mitel has been transitioning towards UC solutions and communication solutions as part of a more software-centric business application type of approach,” Johnson said. “With software integration, professional services and best practices, margins will be higher for our partners.”
Mitel’s UC products and its SMPL licensing offerings will be available this quarter and its TeleCollaboration Solution is set to be available by next year’s first quarter.