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Posted on: May 22, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By: Rebecca Rosen, VP of Marketing

When a small to medium business (SMB) turns to you for a new, cost-effective business phone system, point them to the cloud.  Giving your customer the power to communicate internally and externally on any device, at any time is powerful.  A cloud PBX, quite literally, puts their business success at their fingertips.

All verticals – from retail, and technology, to advertising – benefit from moving to a cloud business phone system.  Cost saving, 24/7 access, reliability, and continual seamless technological advances will keep your customer relevant in their field and you relevant as their communications partner.

Let’s start by defining for your customer what a cloud PBX is and then take them through the top 4 reasons it can change the way they do business.

Cloud PBX by any other name, sounds just as sweet.

Many customers in the SMB market have a vague idea of what “the cloud” is and look to you to navigate the path through the fog.  Sometimes the simplest definition is the best, cloud-based business phone systems are VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phones that are accessed over the internet and hosted in an off-site data center. Other terms we often hear are hosted PBX, hosted VoIP, and cloud PBX.

Cloud phone systems are not magical nor a silver bullet.  With the right VoIP ready network configurations and planning though, it can give your customer the technology edge they need to take their business to the next level.

4 reasons SMBs thrive in the cloud

  Your clients are changing and growing. With growth comes the need to quickly adapt the way they communicate to meet the needs of their customers.

Here are four reasons the clients you’re talking to already want cloud phone systems; even if they don’t know it yet.

1. SMBs want to save money.

Cloud communications are much more affordable than traditional analog offerings. Your clients will no longer have to pay expensive fees for unlimited local, long distance, and international calls.

Companies that move to the cloud also save money on infrastructure and maintenance costs. As technology evolves and equipment depreciates, on-site business phone systems are not only expensive but also need to be upgraded on a regular basis. An onsite PBX phone system, for example, requires upfront costs for installation, equipment, service arrangements, as well as IT costs for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting.

However, a cloud communication system is free of these costs because they are hosted by a service provider. Companies can say goodbye to upfront equipment costs as well as hiring in-house IT personnel. What’s more, your clients will also save on monthly phone line charges.

2. Customers want remote control.   

One of the main benefits of having a cloud-based business phone system is that your clients receive remote access. Having remote access is ideal for companies with more than one office location and for those that have remote employees.

Working from home is more common than ever before and a remote workforce requires remote control. With cloud communications, customers can communicate with teams and clients no matter where they are with their IP phone or softphone app. This means that they also have access to critical business software while on the go. With a communications system in the cloud, companies can run operations smoothly while providing a consistent presence regardless of the environment.

3. Businesses want reliable phone systems.

Internet downtime costs SMBs a lot of money and chances are your clients have already experienced an outage or two. With the cloud, businesses don’t have to worry about power outages affecting operations and sales ever again. Cloud-based communications platforms are reliable due to geographic redundancy, having several servers in multiple locations so that even if there’s an issue at a single data center, it won’t impact service. This is important because even if there’s a fire, storm or another disaster, a power outage in your client’s location won’t affect their ability to stay connected to teams and customers.

4. Customers want fully integrated communications systems. 

The cloud makes it simple for clients to pick and choose communications features beyond business phones. Today’s small businesses want all of their tools and communications in one web-based application, which has been shown to help increase business efficiency and productivity.

For example, a fully integrated communications system can combine telephony, UC, collaboration and virtual call center features all in one platform. And the best part is that as new technology emerges, clients don’t have to purchase new software or hardware to keep up with the times. Instead, cloud communication systems can automatically adapt and update.

Demystifying the cloud

Ultimately, relating your customers every day needs to the powerful concepts the cloud can offer will strengthen your relationship.  For some SMBs, moving their phone systems to the cloud will be their first step in moving technologically forward – putting the power for growth in their hands and yours.

Want to learn more about Broadvoice? Click here to see your local Broadvoice channel contacts and learn a bit more about us.

Posted on: April 19, 2019 By: CNSG Marketing

By: GAETANO DINARDI of Nextiva

Work remote often? We’ve got you covered with 25 of our favorite working from home tips for you to implement into your daily routine. Working from the comfort of your couch, home office, or bed, offers flexibility and work-life balance that most professionals desire.

After all, who wouldn’t want to work whenever they wanted, on the couch in front of the TV in their PJs with a laptop?

Spend more time with their children?

Or have more home time in general?

Although working from home seems like the ultimate luxury, most professionals forget about one crucial element: productivity. Working from home is great, but it can be a real drag if you struggle with staying productive.

 

So, Here Are Our Top 25 Working from Home Tips

  1. Build a Permanent Work Space
  2. Invest in Technology
  3. Get Comfortable — and Functional — Office Furniture
  4. Set “Work Hours”
  5. Avoid “Work Creep”
  6. Discover Your Peak Productivity Periods
  7. Make To-Do Lists
  8. Use a Planner
  9. Use Task Management Apps
  10. Don’t Work in Your PJs
  11. Don’t Work in Front of the TV
  12. Set a Morning Routine and Stick to It
  13. Set an Alarm
  14. Exercise
  15. Eat a Healthy Lunch or Snack
  16. Take Short Breaks
  17. Create a Rewards System
  18. Use Productivity Apps
  19. Stay Off Social Media
  20. Listen to Music
  21. Leave the House
  22. Use Video Chat
  23. Use Your “Lunch Break” for Errands and Appointments
  24. Avoid Family, Friends, and Pets
  25. Create a Vision Board

 

1) Build a Permanent Work Space

The first step in your “work from home” journey is to designate an area of your home specifically for work.

This could be an empty or spare bedroom that you convert to a home office. If you are pressed for space, you can set up a desk for your computer and office supplies.

Regardless of space or location, establish an area of your home where you will work, and commit to working in this space every day. Be sure your work space is comfortable (especially in any season) and enjoyable, and where you can work quietly when needed.

Related: 33 Ways to Improve Work Performance (+Bonus Tips for Managers)

 

2) Invest in Technology

Yes, setting up a home office or work space may require a small investment. Much like starting a new business, you may have to purchase technology, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone system to do your job every day.

Depending on the nature of your work, you may also need to purchase applications, hardware, and/ or software. Our recommendation?

Invest in whatever you need to comfortably and easily do your job.

 

3) Invest in Comfortable — and Functional — Office Furniture

You may also need to invest in office furniture, if you haven’t already. Depending on the amount of space available, consider purchasing a large desk, bookshelves, and a comfortable office chair.

Remember, the point is that you will be working in this space every day.

So, be sure to purchase comfortable and functional furniture, including ergonomic furniture or equipment, if needed.

 

4) Set “Work Hours”

Now that you have your office or work area set up, it’s time to get down to business — literally. If you are going to make working from home an everyday affair, then set specific business or work hours.

The beauty of working from home is that you can be flexible in setting your own working hours. For example, if you are most productive in the morning, or if you need to get the kids off the bus at 3:00 pm, then you may want to set your work hours from 7 am until 3 pm.

Regardless of your schedule, be sure to establish set work hours to follow each day. Be sure to also communicate your work schedule to colleagues, staff, and your boss, if you have one.

 

5) Avoid “Work Creep”

Some people believe that a work from home career can be invasive in your personal life. This is because if you are constantly home and near your work, then your work will begin to creep into your home life. Yes, the risk is real, but only if you let it…

This goes back to setting work hours. By setting specific work hours and sticking to them each day, then you can manage a healthy work schedule. When your work day is over, whether that is at 3, 4, 5 or 6 pm, shut your laptop and shut your office door and leave it behind until the next day.

 

6) Discover Your Peak Productivity Periods

Working from home tips: Find your productivity peaks
Image courtesy: Evernote

Every individual and professional is most productive at different times of the day. For example, some individuals are “morning people” and they are most productive, alert, and focused during the morning hours. Others are more productive in the afternoon and evenings.

The point here is to discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods. (More tips on this point to come later in this article.)

 

7) Make To-Do Lists

Working from home tips: Make to-do lists
Image courtesy: Todoist

When you work from home each day and you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, it can be challenging — and sometimes overwhelming — to keep track of what you have to do each day. It’s easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, deadlines and even the little things.

In order to stay on task, quickly write down all the things that need to get done at the start of each day. If your list is quite lengthy, then set goals and time limits for accomplishing each task. After you complete each task, cross it off the list. This simple technique is both effective and fulfilling.

 

8) Use a Planner

In addition to making to-do lists, get into the habit of using a calendar or planner. For example, if you work from home some days but you are on the road others, get in the habit of using a planner to write down and keep track of deadlines, appointments, and meetings.

 

9) Use Task Management Apps

If you aren’t a “write-it-down” to-do list or planner person, don’t worry—there are plenty of digital calendar and task management apps available that can still help you.

Some top task management and calendar apps include:

Most of these apps offer both web-based and mobile versions, so you can download them to your phone. Some can even be integrated with other apps, such as Slack for team collaboration. And the best part? Most of these apps offer a free version.

 

10) Don’t Work in Your PJs

We know — this is one reason why people love working from home. If you love working in your PJs, then you are probably killing your productivity.

Even if you don’t have to leave the house, make it a point to set a morning routine and stick to it. Therefore, when you are ready to sit down to work, you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day.

 

11) Don’t Work in Front of the TV

This is another productivity killer. Although you might treat “working from home” as really a “day off” that involves your couch and Netflix, glancing at your laptop from time to time, making this a habit will not get you very far.

Again, as mentioned above, treat your work day as just that: a work day. Avoid the TV and other distractions so you can focus on your work and getting things done. If you need the TV on as background noise, then do so, but avoid looking at it every few minutes. If you find that the TV is distracting you, shut it off and try listening to music or using a sound machine instead.

 

12) Stick to a Morning Routine

Another enjoyable perk of working from home is not having to get up, rush out of the house, and commute to an office. However, working from home doesn’t mean you get to skip your morning routine altogether. You should still set an alarm, get up early, take a shower, grab coffee and breakfast, and prepare your lunch, just like you have to leave the house.

13) Set an Alarm

Even if you don’t have to be up as early to leave for the office, you should still set an alarm and commit to getting up at a certain time each day. This will prevent you from sleeping in too late, and will keep you on a healthy sleep schedule.

Human beings are creatures of habit. We are incredibly dependent on routines, schedules, and structure. Therefore, by setting an alarm, following a strict morning routine, and setting specific work hours you will be healthier, more focused, more alert and more productive. Remember, a healthy body is a healthy mind.

 

14) Exercise

If your day allows, take a lunch break and go for a walk, go to the gym or stretch. Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increase happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity.

If you are an early-morning jogger or gym-goer, then work that into your routine each day. And, if you want to make exercise a habit, or become an early-morning exerciser, but struggle with getting out of bed, set an alarm across the room so you are forced to get up out of bed to shut it off. You can also leave yourself motivational sticky notes by your bed, so they are the first thing you see and read in the morning.

 

15) Eat a Healthy Lunch or Snack

Working from home tips: Try healthy snacks
Image courtesy: SnackNation

Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. So, when it’s time for lunch or a snack break, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks, such as chips, chips, cookies or leftover pizza. When we work in an office, we are at the mercy of whatever is available in the cafeteria or whatever lunch we brought from home.

However, research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables has a direct link on overall productivity levels. If you are an avid snacker, then make it a point to make yourself a healthy lunch, just as you would if you had to go into an office. You can also avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether.

You can also reward yourself with a sweet snack on Friday after a long, successful, and productive week.

 

16) Take Short Breaks

Although we have focused most of this article on how to stay productive while working from home, sometimes the opposite can happen. We think that by working from home we will be able to get more done because there are less distractions. Therefore, sometimes we end up over-committing and working too much, which also kills productivity.

You can easily avoid this by working short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule, or even make them a part of your “rewards system”. Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels.

 

17) Use a Rewards System

We mentioned using a rewards system in the point above. This is an easy way to help you get things done — even the things you have been procrastinating or putting off.

For example, take a five-minute break to go for a stroll through your neighborhood, grab a healthy snack, take your dog to the park down the street, or switch over the laundry once you finish a phone call or complete a difficult task or deadline.

Although it seems simple, using a basic rewards system will help you get things done and also feel fulfilled.

 

18) Do Use Productivity Apps

If you struggle with staying on task while working from home, even if you have already tried some of the tips above, then you may need to kick things up a notch and use a productivity app.

For example, some productivity apps will track the amount of time you spend on each task, and even minimize distractions. Some examples of these types of apps include the following:

Even if you work for yourself, and you do not need to report time to a manager, using a time tracker app will help you see your productivity levels each day and week. This will not only provide you with insight as to when you are most productive during the day, it will also show you how much time you spend on each task.

If you are spending too much time on a particular task, or more than what is necessary on repetitive tasks, then it may be time to look into some automation solutions for even more productivity!

 

19) Stay Off Social Media

I think we can agree that we are ALL guilty of this one from time to time — or every day. Social media can be a giant time suck if you aren’t careful. In fact, studies have shown that the average adult spends nearly nine hours per day on social media.

That is more time than most people spend sleeping or working! Furthermore, according to an article recently published by CNN, Facebook and Instagram now reveal to users how much time they spend in each app.

If you are a social media addict, then make it a habit to shut off social media notifications during the day, if possible. This will help avoid distractions, so you can focus on getting more done.

 

20) Listen to Music

Okay, so you shut off social media and the TV, and you are sitting at your desk and focused on your work. But, now it’s too quiet.

Listening to music while you work can help boost productivity levels and even enhance creativity.Even if you aren’t a huge music fan, studies have shown that listening to soft, classical music while you work can help improve focus.

Check out this afternoon energy boost playlist on Spotify >>>https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0Vjhah37el0Aq5yoRaujBz

 

21) Leave the House

You just invested time and money in setting up a designated work space or home office, and now we are telling you to leave the house? Yes and no.

Leaving the house on occasion can give you a change of scenery, which can help boost creativity and productivity. If you need a slight change of pace, try working in your backyard or at a nearby coffee shop.

 

22) Use Video Chat

Interact with others! Working from home every day can get pretty lonely, especially if you are single or live alone. Make it a point to chat with colleagues, team members, or clients each day.

Video chat is a great way to stay connected with other human beings. There are also a number of video chat applications available today, such as:

  • Skype
  • Zoom
  • UberConference
  • Google Hangouts

Depending on the nature of your work and your position, you could end up spending almost all of your day on calls. If you spend a lot of time on the phone or in video conferences each day or week, then set aside time in your schedule each day for calls or video chats.

 

23) Use Your “Lunch Break” for Errands and Appointments

If you work from home each day, then you have a ton of free time to do what you want and go where you want, right?

Maybe, but we don’t recommend that. Structuring your day is important. If you need to run errands, or schedule the occasional doctor or dentist appointment, try to schedule them for your “lunch break”, just as you would if you worked in an office.

 

24) Avoid Family, Friends, and Pets

This can be difficult, especially if you have young children at home, or have multiple pets, all of whom want your attention. If you are home all day, every day, then family and friends might think that they can show up whenever they please.

Of course, you probably welcome and enjoy the company, it’s important to remember that this is your work time. Be sure to set and stick to specific work hours and clearly communicate those hours with your family and friends.

 

25) Create a Vision Board

If you have been working from home for several years, and have mastered most if not all the points above, then you working from home might be becoming boring, dull or stale. You might struggle with sticking to your schedule, or enjoying your work.

If this sounds all too familiar, then it might be time to take a step back, re-evaluate your business or work, and then approach it from a different angle.

vision board can help. A vision board is just that: a board that you can use to write notes and post pictures of your dreams and aspirations. The visualization aspect of a vision board is a great and powerful mind exercise. It can help you feel the way you want to feel. This could help you get out of your work from home slump, and pave a new, clear path to productivity and success.

Start putting these working from home tips into effect today to streamline your routine and increase your productivity.

Posted on: September 21, 2018 By: CNSG Marketing

By: Marshall Aronow CEO of MetTel

We’ve all been there….in a car, on a train or even a plane. You get on a call with your colleagues to discuss an important presentation but typically spend 5 minutes just looking for that email with a key attachment among all those other hundreds of emails you receive. With TrueUC, that search is not necessary as it natively integrates with  Office 365 so all your emails and attachments can be automatically located and displayed between meeting participants as content in common.

TrueUC from MetTel means you can just turn on your mobile phone or tablet, open the UC-One application and quickly find that critical document……then check on that client’s current status in Salesforce to provide an informed update.

TrueUC not only provides a full spectrum of communications and collaboration tools, it also integrates with key business applications most professionals use every day. But the real value of TrueUC lies in the fact that the majority of information economy workers – not to mention most Millennials – work outside of a traditional office most of the time.

Today’s mobile, digitally driven work environment requires employees and businesses to communicate instantly, across different regions and time zones to access information, schedule meetings, manage business processes, communicate, collaborate, produce and innovate. No barriers, no excuses.

You can even get texting capability added to your desk phone which, incidentally is the only number you need for work as it can also move with you to your devices and other desk phones. With a smart phone or tablet provided by MetTel with mobile device management, you can work securely from any location or in transit. Even if you lose a device, it can be wiped remotely to protect sensitive company data.

People need to work on the move at full capacity but CIOs and IT managers don’t want to spend the time and resources to sign up five telecom carriers, six software companies and somehow figure out how it all works together. They don’t have to.

TrueUC brings it all together in a cost-efficient managed service with choice of devices, connectivity, customer support and billing – on one platform. Instead of going back and forth between laptop, desktop and phone, MetTel can provide a single device powered by the MetTel mobile network and mobile device management for all business computing and communications. And special “road warrior bundles” can be customized to specific job roles and user preferences for Android, iOS, etc.

Why this isn’t just another product launch for business communications.

Market studies show that approximately 59 percent of the business population consider themselves mobile workers, requiring all their office capabilities move with them. That applies to a lot of workers, including:

  • A healthcare provider in Nebraska visiting patients at their homes
  • An inspector in New York examining a building’s sprinkler systems to ensure it’s up to code
  • A service worker repairing an elevator issue at a skyscraper in Dubai
  • A real estate agent in Rhode Island showing a residential property

All of these workers need access to documents, meeting information, CRM insights, and so forth. With TrueUC, we have created the first all-in-one unified communications (UC) application designed for today’s modern millennial workforce – providing workflow, communications and productivity capabilities, typically only accessible when in the office – now available with any mobile device. In particular, organizations can access a cloud, API-driven UC solution that combines text, voice, video, chat, email and business app integration plus a secure mobile device and connectivity – all from a single source. No need for multiple vendors and multiple headaches.

As part of this effort, we’re working with strategic partners, such as Cisco and Samsung, to help deliver a truly mobile experience. A new generation of millennial professionals has grown up with the freedom of mobility, texting, video, voice and the ability to carry their social lives in their pockets. Now, we’ve done the same thing now for their professional lives.

Interoperability challenges? Not here.

We live and work in a highly connected, interdependent global society – meaning partnering with third-parties and other vendors is essential for collaboration and business success. For these collaborations to be successful, software programs and systems need to communicate with one another. Closed platforms don’t work as well.

As such, TrueUC operates as a set of open APIs that allows integration with a range of critical cloud business applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Google G-Suite, Salesforce, Box and Twitter, among others, truly enabling a mobile office experience.

Let’s have a dialogue

Much of what I’ve discussed – the painful commutes, not being able to access documents and information in real-time, scheduling meetings, working with peers in different geographies and time zones – are all challenges to which we’ve grown far too accustomed.

The good news? It doesn’t need to be that way.

I welcome your feedback and input – and look forward to having a conversation that will, hopefully, result in making your work life a little easier.

For more information on TrueUC, please visit our website https://mettel.net/trueuc/