The trend towards remote working by people owning small and medium-size businesses continues to increase globally, according to a recent WebEx survey by global networking giant Cisco.
Fifteen per cent of owners surveyed intend to work remotely 36 days or more in a year.
Further, 23% of the respondents said their companies relied on telecommuting (the flexibility to work from anywhere) and more than one in ten (13%) reimbursed employees when they bought laptops, mobile phones or tablets.
The respondents comprised owners of businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
Respondents also preferred working remotely to avoid the inconveniences often associated with traditional office meetings. The biggest frustrations cited were face-to-face meetings taking longer than planned (29%) and the difficulty of arranging meetings because of conflicting schedules (25%).
To meet this demand for mobility, Cisco has announced a set of developments designed for remote workers, making it easier for business-people in South Africa to collaborate anywhere, anytime and on any device, according to a Cisco South Africa press release.
The new Cisco Unified Communications (UC) Manager feature, Extend and Connect, is designed to bring any third-party phone – including phones at hotels, airports, convention centres, or even distant locations like offshore oil rigs – into the Cisco UC environment.
“With Extend and Connect, telecommuters and business travellers can simply input the phone number of their preferred voice device to a Jabber client running on their Windows PC, and UC Manager will route all voice traffic directly to that phone number. This enables a worker to use any third-party phone – old or new, analog, digital or IP – and get the same experience as using a full-featured enterprise phone.”
Further, Cisco’s new WebEx Meetings allows workers to easily collaborate directly from Web applications they use daily. The WebEx Meetings Spaces helps users to manage the complete meeting life cycle, including preparations, conducting meetings and following up on them.
Workers can also access and collaborate on files and presentations in the cloud from a PC or mobile device in real time, schedule meetings, as well as share agendas, notes, action items, recordings and any other relevant documents at any time. There is also an integrated instant messaging client, as well as two-way high defi- nition (HD) video and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) on mobile devices.
“WebEx Meeting Spaces is delivered through the Cisco WebEx cloud with Enterprise-grade security, as well as with high-availability and scalability levels. Cisco will release a free version of WebEx Meetings, which will support up to three attendees in a meeting. WebEx Meetings runs on most popular computing devices, including Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets,” said Cisco South Africa.
Meanwhile, Cisco WebEx Social helps employ- ees to share knowledge, find experts and information, and form effective virtual work teams. WebEx Social unifies social and real-time colla- boration media, including video, voice, instant messaging, telepresence and Web conferencing into a single, integrated user experience.
“WebEx Social also includes new browser-based video calling, where people can seamlessly escalate to an HD videoconferencing session without going to a separate application. These sessions are compatible with a wide variety of video end points, including Cisco TelePresence, IP video phones, as well as mobile and soft clients,” Cisco South Africa concluded.