Author: Rachel Anderson

Leaving the Office Doesn’t Mean Leaving Work Behind

Did you know that 55% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time each year? First of all, that’s bananas. Taking time away from work, even if it’s only staying at home for some me time, is proven to make you happier and healthier. Plus, I personally think it’s the best time to reassess bigger life goals and aspirations. It just makes sense. Meeting due dates, maintaining inbox zero, and just preparing for the days to come is enough to keep you busy. That’s why my favorite vacations are the ones that make doing those daily operations extremely difficult if not downright impossible. I don’t mess around. When I want a vacation, I’m all in. On the flip side, if there is a business or personal emergency, the last thing I or my employer would want is for me to be Missing In Action.

Staying in Touch… When You Want To

At this point, I doubt many readers are disagreeing with me. Vacation = good and responsibilities = compliance. But how do you comply? If you’re already a VirtualPBX customer or a frequent visitor of the blog, you may have a few inklings, but this is how I do it.

  • VirtualPBX Softphone – There is no way I am going to take a desktop phone through airport security on a weekend trip. Conversely, I am not about to give out my personal number to all of my coworkers, our business partners, and our customers. Cue the VirtualPBX Softphone. Personally, I have the app installed on my mobile phone and my laptop and use each as the situation calls for. If anyone needs me, they just call my extension as they normally would and I will answer provided I have adequate data or wifi.
  • Follow Me Calling – Ideal for the times when I have successfully removed myself from adequate internet access, our Follow Me Calling feature on both vConsole and Dash kicks in. For any employee who ever needs to answer calls while on the go or outside of business hours, I strongly recommend adding your mobile phone in your Follow Me Calling flow. This ensures that when all other options are exhausted, your call can still reach you, even without giving your mobile out to anyone who asks. Provided you want to answer it, that is…
  • Forwarding Voicemails to an Email Address – I don’t always want to answer calls. Especially not on vacation. Especially when it’s not urgent. But I also don’t want to miss out on timely opportunities. That’s why I get a copy of each voicemail sent to my email inbox. This works great for forwarding voicemails to those in the office who can act on them right away.

Not in the Office, But Not on Vacation Either

I recently found myself in a very lucky position. My partner is a grad student studying specific politics in Peru, and as an integral part of his program he was required to complete on-site field work. This field work was due to last 13 months and I was absolutely not prepared for us to be away from each other for this length of time. Luckily, VirtualPBX embraces remote work and places trust in its employees to remain productive and available. So I joined him! I had previously answered business calls on hotel balconies and forwarded voicemails while capitalizing on free airport wifi while traveling in the past, but I discovered that setting up a home office abroad was an entirely different experience. Here’s what I learned:

  • Internet Services Vary Internationally – Did you know that not every ISP will provide internet to every device? Neither did I. Our ISP of choice did not support the latest macOS and for a few days I played device tango – doing work on a Mac and passing files to my Android mobile phone where I would ultimately email or Slack them to a coworker. It was annoying. It was far from productive. And it was a solid lesson in vetting services thoroughly.
  • Have an Internet Access Backup… Or Two – Guess how patient I was with device tango? Not very. Always have a second location you can depend on – a cafe, a co-working space, a library, something. I also strongly recommend looking into a USB option or hotspot to deliver your internet, but be aware that the rates and connection quality of those can vary widely.
  • Enjoy Yourself! – New environments are more difficult when you don’t jump in and embrace them. I found it was easy to fall into a routine and completely forget that I was in another country with ample adventure at my doorstep. Plus, no matter how fleeting the moment is, take advantage – you only live once! (See my evidence of that below!)

Staying in TouchStaying in TouchStaying in TouchStaying in Touch

Sneek is Bringing Human Connection to Remote Teams

As a distributed team, we are always looking for new ways to maintain the highest standard of internal communications. When we came up with the concept of #MobileYear Sweepstakes, we set the bar high for the type of sponsor that best represents disruption of the traditional onsite workplace. When we found out how Sneek was revolutionizing the remote working culture, we realized we struck gold. With distributed teams and remote work growing in popularity, companies have been searching for a way to bring office culture to the digital space.

Say hello to Sneek.

Sneek is Bringing Human Connection to Remote Teams

From “Santa Goes Remote”

Q1. What is Sneek and how does it work?

In its simplest form, Sneek brings human contact back to the remote teams. The Sneek window is a wall of faces. You can see your whole team on one screen as Sneek takes your photo at a regular interval, 1 minute, 5 minutes or manual mode, all of which you control. You can add a personal status message to your chat head to show off your personality a bit and let your team know how you’re feeling that day. To start a video chat with someone just click on their face and instantly you will be connected for a one on one conversation, or click on multiple faces for a group chat. Sneek features screen sharing, so when explaining something to a teammate you can show them exactly what it is you’re explaining.

Sneek Team

Q2. Why did your remote team build Sneek?

Sneek was the brainchild of Analog Republic, a distributed team of developers from San Diego, Portland, Mexico, London, Brighton, Derry, and Orkney. As their team started expanding they wanted to find a way to feel more like a team rather than isolated workers.  In a real office you can just walk up to a co-workers desk and start a conversation and none of the tools they tried could even come close in terms of providing that kind of intimacy. They started experimenting with some of the already existing tools for team presence. Eventually, they decided that none of them quite made the cut for creating the virtual office experience they needed. They put their experience in building highly scalable infrastructures to use and everyone on the team pitched in their ideas and expertise. After lots of experimenting and refining, Sneek was born.

Q3. When did the Sneek team realize they were on to something big?

About a year had passed and Analog Republic were still using Sneek daily to communicate and stay connected as a team. They realized that it was exactly what they couldn’t find in the market and they decided that they should share it with the world. So on September 27th of 2016 Sneek went live to the public and was met with features on Product Hunt, ComputerWorld and more. They now have users in 569 cities worldwide, including high profile organizations such as British Gas and Lego.

Sneek Slack integrationQ4. What is your favorite Sneek feature?

Slack integration – you can start video chats or send “sneeksnaps” directly from Slack. You can type “/sneeksnap @username” to send an instant photo to your teammates. We also attach a hashtag to sneeksnaps and resurface those hilarious moments over and over again. Whether a teammate is yawning awkwardly, sneezing right as their picture is taken, or sticking headphones up their nose, sharing these micro-moments brings human connection to distributed teams. After all, a team that has fun together is a team that grows together.

Thanks Sneek!

If you are interested in bringing this innovative tool to your remote team you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. You can also follow their journey via blog, Twitter, and Instagram!

It’s not too late to sign up for the #MobileYear Sweepstakes. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to win a free year of Sneek for up to 5 team members + a free year of Dash + lifetime Remotive Slack membership! Sign up before January 31st by noon PST for a chance to win!

Meet The Startup on a Mission to Help Remote Workers Be Productive

Meet The Startup on a Mission to Help Remote Workers Be ProductiveRemote working is less of a niche and more of a standard in 2017. Having the freedom to work remotely does not mean kicking back on the beach holding a piña colada 24/7, but if that’s your thing, you can do just that when you win the Mobile Year Sweepstakes. Remote working means freedom, but it also means a whole other set of challenges outside the scope of a typical 9 to 5 desk job.

No one knows more about remote working challenges then Remotive; a startup that is on a mission to help remote workers be productive. Today we have a special guest in our virtual VirtualPBX office. Meet Adrien Belhomme, a remote working expert at Remotive.

Q1. What is Remotive? Why was it founded?

After spending years helping companies such as Accenture, Google and Buffer think about remote work, Rodolphe learned how to become a great remote worker and decided to start Remotive in 2014, to help people do the same and find a remote job.

Remotive helps 20,000+ remote workers from all over the world to be productive by emailing our best tips, twice a month. Remotive also runs a community where hundreds of actively engaged remote workers support each other. Also, we list over 200 startups who welcome and celebrate remote work, most of which are actively hiring as well.

Q2. What are some main challenges that remote workers face?

Working remotely means working outside of the office. It gives you so many freedoms and perks! But without clear boundaries between working and nonworking hours, it can become difficult to know when to disconnect and switch completely between the two. This is one of the most popular topics in our community, and knowing how and when to disconnect is one of the main challenges that remote workers face.

Q3. What are your favorite productivity hacks?

Establishing a routine is really important. As a remote worker working on multiple projects, I tend to switch tasks too many times during the day. And I can lose my focus. Having a routine and knowing what I’m going to work on in advance is the best hack I know to maximize productivity. Additionally, having a strong routine and schedule is a good way to better delineate between working and nonworking hours.

Q4. What is the Remotive Slack channel like? Why is it a great resource for remote workers?

We see the Remotive Slack team as the world’s largest virtual co-working space. It’s a place where we support each other as a community, and share remote jobs along with the productivity tips to succeed at them! Whether you’re just getting started, or you’re a tenured remote worker, you’ll meet like-minded professionals and surely make new friends. We have members from all around the world, working in design, engineering, marketing, and non-tech jobs like virtual assistants.

If you want more tips to help remote workers be productive from the experts at Remotive you can sign up for their newsletter and follow them on Twitter!

Ready to put these productivity tips to the test? Enter for a chance to win over $1,000 in remote working tools.

Mobile Year Sweepstakes Blog

5 Reasons Your Business Should Include Remote Working

It may come as no surprise that employees are no longer satisfied working inside cubicles. According to Global Workplace Analytics, employees are not at their desk 50-60% of the time. Desks are already empty, so why not consider allowing remote working as an option for your employees?

Whether your business is looking to scale it’s workforce, improve employee performance or downsize overhead expenses, flexible working options have undeniable benefits for your business. This infographic showcases 5 reasons why your business should adopt a remote working strategy.

5 Reasons Your Business Should Include Remote Working

Infographic – VoIP Phones and Devices

In a recent case study, MDGI President Scott Mullins commented, “the tech you’re using shouldn’t be a comment on a call.” Continuing, “with others the tech gets in the way and there are a lot of excuses, with VirtualPBX it just works.”

While we certainly enjoy the compliment, one of the reasons VirtualPBX works as easily as it does is the fact that with VirtualPBX, customers don’t need to restructure their day around their phone system. Their phone system keeps up with them at the office, the home office, on the road, and virtually anywhere they have internet access by employing VoIP phones and devices that go beyond a traditional desk phone.

VoIP Phones and Devices

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