How Microsoft is Empowering a Modern, Sustainable Workplace
By TJ DiCaprio as written on MicrosoftGreen.com
Since joining Microsoft in 1991, the only constant for Bev Hess has been a remote workstyle. Bev started her career as an account rep based in St. Louis, often logging thousands of miles in the car or flying to client sites or meeting with customers over the telephone. She’s held a number of roles in the field, eventually rising to sales management and then pursuing a passion to empower others with better technology, first as a loud voice in the field and now managing a large global team as part of the Microsoft IT organization.
Today, Bev rarely sees many of her 139-person team in person. Her typical day starts with a mere 30-second commute to her home office in California, more than 1,100 miles away from Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. But she’s also connected and productive wherever she may be, whether out walking the dog, running errands, or even training for an upcoming triathlon. She appreciates having the flexibility to blend life as a mom with the challenges of building long-lasting professional relationships and running a high-performance team at one of the world’s largest technology companies. For her, life couldn’t be more balanced.
For Bev, “Skype for Business is my #1 tool. It’s how I start and end my day.
Skype for Business is now the norm for getting things done
Skype for Business has become the equalizing force that is changing how we work. It is not only helping to reinvent productivity, but also helping to decrease the need for commuting and business travel, which is good for our people, our business and the planet.
While Bev has always been successful as a remote employee, she says “I get a lot more done today.” In the days of audio-only tele-conferencing and conference room meetings, meetings would often start without her and “I’m sorry you can’t see this” was an all-too-common apology. These days, Skype for Business has become the norm for how work gets done at Microsoft. And many people meeting her for the first time over Skype don’t know that she—and most of her team members—aren’t in a corporate office.
Skype for Business combines audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, and screen sharing into one app that works on any device. Meet collaboratively one-on-one or with hundreds of people, or broadcast meetings to thousands of people.
Today Bev can’t imagine working without Skype. She hires people over Skype, conducts people reviews over Skype, and even occasionally fires people on Skype. “If someone isn’t comfortable getting hired without meeting their manager in person, they simply aren’t a fit for my team.” This way of doing business has also helped her to retain great people that needed to change location or workstyle—all while empowering them to be just as effective as they could be in a corporate office. For example, she recently hired a young data scientist in France that has lectured at MIT and is considered a rising star in her field.
“I think the Microsoft work culture and technology environment is what has enabled me to attract such exceptional talent.”
All told, Bev’s team is spread over 23 countries. To accommodate team members in various time zones, her workday commonly spans from 5 AM to 10 PM, though she hardly notices. She benefits through a flexibility to interweave her professional and personal lives, and Microsoft benefits by getting twice the availability of a typical 9–5 office worker. She also works to be open and available and sets aside time each week as open “office hours” for her team to drop by virtually via Skype and talk about anything.
Her team represents a perfect example of the modern workplace. While some of her team work in larger offices, many others work in remote or satellite offices with only a handful of employees. Others telecommute from rented office or flex space in their local city. And others, like Bev herself, work on the go, making their home or a hotel room their office. Regardless of where they are, Skype for Business is the equalizing force that empowers every team member to be productive whenever and wherever they may be, helping Microsoft realize greater value from its workforce.
85 percent of Bev’s team—including Bev herself—is located outside of Redmond.