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The flood test; ensuring business continuity without an office.

February 21, 2014 by

As a company, we talk a lot about the opportunities video interactions provide in terms of cost savings, efficiency and productivity. Over the past couple of weeks we have seen businesses across the world disrupted by unforeseen circumstance; underground closures in London, flooding in other parts of England, heavy snow across America’s east coast. Many workers could not make it to their usual desk in the office. So, what do you do when a whole office suddenly becomes mobile? How do teams continue to work together? What happens to customer service when customers try to call the office?

Fuze at home

When our San Francisco office unexpectedly closed from a flood in the building, an opportunity to truly test our beliefs in video for ourselves emerged. Overnight, the company transformed from a bustling office in the heart of San Francisco to a 100% virtual environment. The idea of an “office-less office” came to life.

We learned that with the right tools and culture in place the “office-less office” produced one of the most productive weeks in company history. Collaborating cross-functionally through video, we moved with ease. Instead of gathering around desks and whiteboards, we gathered over internet connections and screen-shares. Looking into someone’s home office, we shared the same informal chats that tend to happen over the office water cooler, but closer. We met each other’s dogs, children, and glimpsed into a side of our peers beyond the cube. For new employees, we got to meet them in a more personal way than a quick coffee (see Lacey’s post on her first week with us). Fuze helped us continue to build relationships with our employees in a way that couldn’t have been done without seeing a face.

photo (5)Aside from developing stronger bonds with colleagues our business needs didn’t miss a beat. Customers were supported as usual, executive meetings proceeded. CEO David Obrand explained “I did not cancel, postpone or delay a single event in my calendar today, even with the office closure.” Despite the physical distance that separated us, everyone remained focused and engaged in meetings and staying connected.

So - Obrand went on to conduct 1:1 meetings with direct reports in their home offices, saved two hours on a commute and lowered carbon emissions at the same time -- but what about Fuze as a whole? By the numbers: 473 total remote meetings, over 43,051 minutes, at least 77 commute hours saved (if the average was 1 hour commute/employee).

We gained efficiency while maintaining seamless connection with our customers, prospects and each other. As our head of Corporate Sales, Paul Fox, shared on Yammer, “We drink our own champagne, even when the office is flooded.”

In theory, working remotely seems like a breeze - wake up, make coffee, take a call while feeding the dog - but the number of distractions at home can open up a whole new world of inefficiency for the individual, and an organization, if the right tools are not in place. We found visual connections and seeing our meeting attendees actually led to our maintained focus, a claim our recent distractions and productivity research also validates. Whether you are in the office or at home, distractions are now a part of our life that need to be managed no matter your surroundings.

For many workers today, working remotely is a part of modern working life. The workday is no longer linear, its elastic, and takes on many forms and environments as you move through your day. Fuze is built for these circumstances, whether there’s unforeseen crises impacting your normal workspace, an unexpected office closure or just the way you work normally. In fact, more organizations are turning toward the office-less environment as the future of work, and video connectivity is part of the toolset: creating productive, personal interactions for a truly elastic workday - and life.

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