GovLoop is proud to have Microsoft as one of its 2011 Premiere Partners. This week, we’re highlighting their Telework Solutions. You can learn more below from our interview with Martin Isaksen, a Federal Technologist at Microsoft.
Isaksen: These are exciting times for the nearly 2 million federal civilian employees who could soon be turning a 30 minute commute to a 30 second telecommute from a virtual or remote office. The benefits are not only fuel cost savings, reduced commute times and an improved work life balance for employees but greater efficiencies and cost savings for employers. A telework policy is also a tremendous asset in hiring and retaining top talent, reducing the number of employee sick days and increasing overall productivity through the extension of the work day from home.
With so much to learn about telework, Microsoft recently conducted a survey and has released a new Remote Working Study to better understand the many benefits and challenges experienced by teleworkers nationwide.
2. So what did Microsoft learn from this Remote Working Study?
Isaksen: Nationally, our study found a rise in the number of companies offering employees opportunities to work remotely. That’s because telework is now a business imperative, Microsoft executives say. The study determined the three primary reasons for working remotely were (1) better work/home life balance (19 percent), (2) eliminating long commutes (16 percent), and (3) completing unfinished work (13 percent).
Additionally, our study found that the top three tasks workers are unable to perform while working remotely are the ability to (1) make phone calls (39 percent), (2) participate in video conferences (28 percent) and (3) being able to easily determine the availability of colleagues (17 percent).
3. How does Microsoft’s Telework Solution address these learning’s?
Isaksen: Microsoft is committed to enabling federal workers with the ability to connect, collaborate and share data from almost anywhere where internet access is provided. Through communication tools like Microsoft Lync, formerly known as Office Communication Server, workers use presence features (discussed on Microsoft’s Futurefed blog) as well as real time communication tools like instant messenger, video, email and voice through their computer to remain connected. For a terrific look at Microsoft Lync in action, check out the short video demo entitle Anywhere Access found on the Microsoft Telework for Gov website.
4. How does Lync save federal agencies money?
Isaksen: Lync (previously known as OCS – Office Communication Server) is available today to most of our federal customers. Many federal agencies may already own this technology through existing agreements with Microsoft. By fully deploying the capabilities of Lync, federal agencies can begin driving timely and efficient communication to both remote and on premise employees through presence, instant messaging, voice and video capabilities. What’s more, remote teleworkers can have their existing office business phone simultaneous ring their PC (using the Lync UC client over IP) thus reducing phone and cell costs while simultaneously providing availability and location status.
Government employees interested in learning more about Lync’s availability should reach out to their respective IT support desks to inquire about availability. Microsoft also offers a short two hour “test drive” of this technology in the Microsoft Experience Centers in Washington DC. For information on attending a “test drive” session at a Microsoft office near you, please send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.