Unify Blog

I get involved, on a very regular basis, in events management. It’s a part of what I do and I really enjoy it. It has to be said though – I truly believe that alongside children, marriage and house moves it has contributed to those silvery flecks appearing in my hair!

It is stressful. Fact. Mind you, it appeals to my sense of ‘here is a project with a hard stop date, where I can look back one day later knowing I have accomplished something’. I am that swan, serene on the surface but absolutely frantic underneath where no-one sees.
I was, whilst standing waiting for my coffee machine to produce a mega-frothy-choco-coffee-chai-skinny-something during a rare break between audio conferences, thinking (scary!).

Way way back, when I was starting out in events, it was what can only be described as frantic. So much to remember to do, so many people to co-ordinate, so many arrangements to make – and (this is the funny bit) without ‘proper’ collaboration tools! Emails flying back and forth with text as long as ‘War & Peace’. Constant telephone calls that hit a busy tone or a voicemail, and that dreaded ‘your mailbox has exceeded it’s size limit’ALL… THE… TIME.. argggghhhhh!

Even audio conferences were tricky – IF available, which meant multiple calls / leaving voicemails / getting engaged tone and it could take maybe 20 calls to bring together one update on a project.
Often it was easier to get everyone in a room for a project update.

Easy did I say? Well, after having spent a week ascertaining when people’s diaries (still written in pencil in a physical journal) were free, then you all get into a room and have to go off to make calls to find out what had happened on the project since 2 days ago when you had all had calls with your teams or agencies!

Now, I know you are starting to wonder how long exactly mycofee machine takes to produce a frothy cup of caffeine.. as there was clearly a lot of thinking going on!

Today, well, I am lucky – as is anyone that works on projects of any kind. Audio conferences created within moments. ‘Presence’ showing who is available right now. Collaboration tools that share information 24/7. Document sharing, instant updates and reactions to appeals for information. Literally being able to access what I need when I need it – and to be able to share key information as it becomes available. Actually, not just lucky – I am thoroughly spoiled! (Don’t tell my boss tho!)

I guess what I am trying to say is that I recognise how incredibly productive I am now. Organising an event now as compared to ten years ago – well it is like comparing popping a kettle on a gas stove and waiting til the pot whistled to a rather swish little coffee machine that produces my caffeine fix within moments.

Plus, if I had access to Circuit 10 years ago.. I might just have a few less grey hairs…

UC Expo 2015

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Posted in Collaboration, Mobile Working, Virtual Teams

Competition opens 7th March 2017 –  close date 30th May 2017

Enter to win this awesome prize!

  • Seat at Unify Partner Conference
  • Accommodation on 12th & 13th July 2017
  • Return Helicopter transfers from Nice Airport to Fairmont Hotel
  • Speed boat experience around Monte Carlo bay
  • 5 lucky winners!

Just fill out the form in this link to enter – don’t forget to tell your colleagues!  Entries are unlimited. Between the dates of 7th March 2017 and 30th May 2017, Partners must purchase and activate one of the following:

1 entry shall be made each time a Partner sells one of the following:

  • 1 x activated OpenScape Business PAYG licence
  • 1 x activated PAID Circuit subscription
  • 1 x deal won with Trade In-NOW! Promotion  (you MUST go through your CAM!)

Participants must provide the name of the end user and order number for each entry to be validated by Unify (using theCLS /e-Store).

Good Luck to All!Monte_Carlo_FINAL

Posted in Channel Updates

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away

Working smart and not working hard – THAT is the way to go.  We all understand the pressures of an evergrowing workload, and the way that doing the occasional extra hour here and there can escalate very quickly.

This is why a recent article caught my eye. In the article it said that  Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has made no secret of the fact that he regularly works a 100-hour week. And GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt spent 24 years putting in 100-hour weeks.

This piece, ‘Think working long hours is a good thing? This is why you’re wrong’ gives food for thought. When did it become acceptable to think that the work life balance should be so skewed towards work? Scarily – it refers to a piece in The Lancet that tells how a 55 hour week (not that uncommon) can be startlingly detrimental to heart health!

Too many working hours and our health suffers alongside our productivity. No shock really. When I reflect on those times where my office has been more familiar than my sofa or gym or my family (!), I wonder how much quality work did I really deliver?

I freely admit that there are times when I work late into the evening. These late evening are partly because I have a large project on, or am catching up after a holiday or such like, but partly because I enjoy my work.

Back to my opening statement – working smart and not hard being the way forwards.  I stand by that. Working smart does NOT mean doing enough to get by, it does NOT mean not caring or delivering poor quality work, nor does it mean mastering the art of avoiding tasks and projects that might consume a little of your personal time.

What is DOES mean however, is using time wisely, and using the technology available to you to speed up processes or avoid duplication of effort. Working remotely with the right tools to be effective, collaborating rather than being an island, and really communicating – these are what really help to bring your work life balance into order.

Do you have the tools to do your job efficiently, wherever or whenever suits best?  I know that I do.

 

Posted in New Way To Work

Make sure you’re committed to local engagement to deliver more relevant local services, a better citizen experience, and a more transparent democratic process.

Apart from local authorities’ statutory duty to work with their local community there are several other good reasons to build a strong engagement strategy that cuts across the culture of the organisation – from the chief executive and local councillors to senior managers and frontline staff.

 

 

Discover the importance of resident empowerment and how it can help you deliver more sustainable services during austerity. Download your report The Local Authority Of The Future: Where The Citizen Comes First.

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Posted in Unified Communications

Falling tree

So here in the UK, Storm ‘Doris’ hit many areas hard in the last 48 hours. With 94 mph winds, it has offered some ‘challenges’.

Travel has been arduous and taken many hours longer than it should have. Damage to trees, cars and sadly people has been on the news and on everyone’s lips. Snow, torrential rain and howling winds have taken their toll – shutting roads, ports and bridges, and even grounding planes.  Powercuts have spurred on resourcefulness (and cries of ‘where are those candles I bought for emergencies back in 1989?!’), and many parent’s sigh of relief that their children’s tablet has enough battery life to keep the ‘yunguns’ entertained.

It has been disruptive.

How do I know this? Well, firstly I live in the UK. Secondly, I saw it on Facebook and Twitter.

From my home office I saw rain and wind  through the window, and popped my head out the back door occasionally to check that the fencing was still in place, and had to cancel plans last evening because a friend could not get home from London in time due to debris on train tracks.

I was incredibly lucky that I did not have to travel to work – or anywhere in fact. I worked from home as I often do.

It is when furies like ‘Doris’ hit that I am reminded how  being an anywhere worker helps me to minimse time and risks of travelling in adverse conditions, and importantly – it  helps me to keep in touch with people that are travelling so that I know they are safe .

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Posted in Mobile Working

A mobile workforce can transform your council. Here’s how mobile is enabling public sector innovation and improved services.

The new workforce of the local authority how mobile is enabling public sector innovation and improved services
A new local authority workforce

Austerity and cutbacks are putting services at risk – everything from provision for children and vulnerable people to health and social care is under threat. But heads of services can see off the effects of the cuts and improve services if they look at creating a more effective workforce.

Mobile flexible staff can save on costs and free up more people to work in the community, with a positive impact on services. As flexible working becomes standard practice in modern workplaces – with nearly all employers offering staff at least one flexible working option and seven in 10 offering more than three  – local authorities will win out, particularly when technology makes it all that much easier.

And, as more jobs are computerised (some 35% of current jobs are likely to fall into this category over the next 20 years) digital technology will mean that more and more people will be working virtually.

 

What can a mobile workforce do for you?

A more mobile workforce can help you cut down on office costs and staff travel time and expenses by getting people to work from home or in the local community where they are based.

It can mean having a more productive workforce as staff spend more time in the community rather than in the office, getting rid of the need for paperwork and making a difference to the services you provide. You can get other benefits like a reduction in staff costs as employees’ productivity increases, making merging your services with other local authorities a good option.

And if you have the right technology, you’ll find that having a mobile workforce is easy. For example, mobile devices like laptops and smartphones as well as apps and cloud-based computing, offering shared calendars, service directories and address books, can give staff access to services remotely and instantly providing them with all the information and data they need so they can do their jobs better. Shared data can be particularly important, for example, when heads of services are looking to integrate health and care.

 

Are you ready to change the way you work?

Many local councils have been moving away from traditional office-based working and getting staff to work while they’re on the move. Social workers and occupational therapists from Southend-on-Sea’s adult social services department, for example, were given laptops so they could carry out support assessments with their clients in their homes.

They had an online link to the council so that the information could be entered into the local authority’s care management system. Through an online calculator staff could work out a personal budget score. Having the laptop meant that the social workers and occupational therapists did not have to travel back to the office to deal with paperwork or put information into a computer.

A similar way of working helped the London Borough of Sutton make efficiency savings of up to 47%: it provided staff with tablets so they could make a note of information while they were carrying out their work. This also led to a 30% increase in productivity among staff. Apps, cloud-based computing and video-conferencing also made them a more effective workforce. The council has also merged 15 services with other councils saving £8 million.

Meanwhile, Moray Council in Scotland set up mobile working for its housing repairs staff, despite a poor mobile signal in most of the area. To tackle the signal problem, the council introduced a system that allowed them to do their work even when they had no connection. Staff could get details of jobs and input information once a job had been completed while they were out and about, which reduced their travelling time. The team could also make sure its stock was up to date by ordering it remotely, which meant they always had the parts they needed on their vans.

At Wakefield Council, a Worksmart programme meant more than 2,500 employees moved over to flexible working by using solutions that allowed the council to deal more efficiently with around 300,000 queries every year. The centralised phone service saved the local authority £100,000 as it could cut the number of landline phones by 60%. The system also allowed more staff to work from home or out in the community, which helped make them more productive.

Wakefield is also planning a new primary customer contact centre as well as ‘hot-desking’ facilities and ‘touchdown’ rooms designed to enable staff to work while they’re away from their usual base.

The voice infrastructure gave staff more control over calls, as they could manage them wherever they were. As a result of the changes, the local authority’s housing benefits department had an increase in productivity of 20% through flexible working, 225,000 fewer commuter miles per year were travelled in one council service and £1.6 million was saved by rationalising property.

Aberdeenshire Council has also developed a Worksmart programme to cut costs in office space from 98 facilities to 54 by 2017/18, which it expects will save £920,000 a year – and to make its services more efficient. The council can do this by having more flexible staff working mainly in the community who between them do not need as much office space as fixed staff, providing them with ‘hot-desking’ space when they need it. Through telephony and web-based technology staff can connect to the council network through Wifi across Aberdeenshire. Video-conferencing and a single access point will mean the public will have their questions answered at their first point of contact.

Jim Savege, the council’s chief executive, said: “I’m keen to encourage managers and teams to think differently about innovative ways of working together, using a combination of face-to-face catch ups, online discussions and innovative collaboration tools.

“Worksmart enables staff to work more flexibly, and has already brought tangible benefits for the organisation (reduced business mileage and reduced office space), employees (improved work-life balance and increased productivity) and customers (improved service delivery). All managers are now expected to lead their teams to work smartly. This means a shift in thinking from ‘my desk’ to ‘my work space’, it means looking at how you access business information, improving processes and fostering trust.”

 

Discover more about local government innovation, drive service delivery, reduce costs, and enable a truly mobile workforce. Download The Local Authority Of The Future: Where The Citizen Comes First.

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Posted in Unified Communications