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3 Crucial Things to Consider for Building a Remote Workforce

Source: Microsoft
The modern workforce is including more remote workers and flexible work policies. Companies that utilize remote employees see an increase in productivity, collaboration, and overall profitability. In order to successfully build a remote or flexible workplace, there are a few things you have to consider first.

Download the Infographic to Learn 3 Crucial Things to Consider when Building a Remote Workforce (and how to solve them)

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skype4b enables - managed solution

Skype for Business drives digital transformation

By Ron Markezich as written on blogs.office.com
Office 365 is a universal toolkit for collaboration with more than 85 million monthly active users, designed to address the unique workstyle of every group. Through integration with Outlook for email, SharePoint for intelligent content management, Yammer for networking across the organization, and Microsoft Teams for high-velocity, chat-based teamwork—Skype for Business is the backbone for enterprise voice and video meetings in Office 365.
As communication and collaboration become increasingly vital to the way work gets done, customers are turning to Skype for Business in Office 365 for all of their conferencing and calling needs. People around the globe conduct over one billion meetings per year on the Skype network, and usage of Skype for Business Online has doubled in the last year.
Today, as the annual unified communications industry conference Enterprise Connect kicks off in Orlando, we’re pleased to announce several new enhancements and partner solutions for Skype for Business in Office 365, which advance our goal of putting communication at the heart of productivity with Skype:
  • Availability of Auto Attendant and Call Queues, two new calling features in Skype for Business Cloud PBX.
  • Preview of the new Skype for Business Call Analytics dashboard, which provides IT admins with greater visibility to identify and address call issues.
  • New meeting room solutions from our partners, including Polycom RealConnect for Office 365, which enables customers to connect existing video conferencing devices to Skype for Business Online meetings; and the new Crestron SR for Skype Room Systems, which seamlessly integrates with the Crestron control and AV systems.
  • Availability of Enghouse Interactive’s TouchPoint Attendant, the first attendant console for Skype for Business Online.
“Skype for Business Online is becoming part of our DNA.”
—Menakshi Sehwani, regional IT business partner for J. Walter Thompson Europe

A complete, enterprise-grade communications solution

This week, we’re releasing Auto Attendant and Call Queues, two new advanced calling features in Skype for Business Cloud PBX. Auto Attendant provides an automated system to answer and route inbound calls using dial pad inputs and speech recognition. Call Queues enable incoming calls to be routed to the next available live attendant in the order they are received.
This continues the rapid innovation over the past six months we have released into the service including:
  • iOS CallKit integration.
  • Skype for Business client for Mac.
  • Expanding PSTN Conferencing to more than 90 countries with dial-out to 180 countries.
  • Extending PSTN Calling to France, Spain and the UK, with preview currently available in Netherlands.
  • Enabling thousands of customers with hybrid deployments.
  • Skype for Business Server Cloud Connector edition to connect their on-premises telephony assets to our cloud voice solution.
With Skype for Business, companies can replace their legacy meeting and phone systems, and enable their employees to join meetings, as well as to make, receive and manage calls right within Office 365—all on any device. Skype for Business Cloud PBX also provides central management within the Office 365 admin console, making it seamless for IT admins to manage communications alongside email, content and collaboration.

Simplified manageability and control for IT

Today, we are also announcing a preview of Skype for Business Online Call Analytics—a new dashboard in the Office 365 admin console that gives IT admins greater visibility to identify and address user call issues, such as network issues or headset problems. Customers tell us some of the greatest benefits of moving their communications to the cloud are the ability to consolidate all their meeting and calling systems into a single solution and streamline provisioning and administration. Customers have also asked for more visibility into calling data to help address user support inquiries. Call Analytics provides rich telemetry data in real-time to help IT admins troubleshoot issues and improve the user experience.
In addition to investing in IT management capabilities like the Call Analytics dashboard, we also released new authentication capabilities to enhance security in Skype for Business Online, including multi-factor authentication for PowerShell, certificate-based authentication, and custom policies for client conferencing and mobility.
“We want IT at Henkel to be an enabler for the digital world of the future,
and with features like Cloud PBX in Skype for Business, we live up to that role.”
—Markus Petrak, corporate director of Integrated Business Solutions for Henkel

Making meeting rooms more effective

For meetings to be as effective and engaging as possible for all participants—no matter their location—groups need web and video conferencing with features like screen sharing, IM and whiteboarding. At the same time, organizations want to take advantage of the full Skype for Business experience while leveraging their existing conferencing assets. Today, Polycom announced their RealConnect for Office 365 video interoperability cloud service will be generally available in North America in April. The RealConnect service enables customers to connect existing videoconferencing (VTC) devices to Skype for Business Online, at a low cost of ownership, and with ease of provisioning for IT and simplicity for users.
“Polycom RealConnect for Office 365 simplifies the video world by connecting Skype for Business online users with those using other video systems,” said Mary McDowell, Polycom CEO. “This cloud service protects customers’ investments in existing video systems as it allows these users to join a Skype for Business meeting with a single click.”
In addition, this week Crestron is introducing its SR for Skype Rooms Systems solution. As a next-generation Skype Room System, the Crestron SR will deliver a full native Skype for Business experience and has been designed from the ground up to seamlessly integrate with the Crestron control and AV systems. These Skype Rooms System solutions transform conference rooms of all sizes by providing rich audio and HD video and content sharing in the room. Remote participants have quick and easy join-meeting functionality and the ability to make phone calls. Customers are already seeing benefits from the Logitech SmartDock that was shipped in October of 2016.
“User adoption is critical for our IT success, and Logitech SmartDock with
Skype Room Systems makes it easy to collaborate over video.
The fact that it is highly affordable enables us to light up multiple rooms
for the price of a single traditional video conference room.”
—Franzuha Byrd, director of IT for Morgan Franklin Consulting

Business solutions on Skype for Business

Just as Skype for Business powers communication across Office 365, our partners and customers are taking advantage of Skype for Business APIs and SDKs to develop custom apps that bring real-time communications capabilities into line of business applications and enterprise solutions.
At HIMSS, we announced the availability of the Skype for Business App SDK and Office 365 Virtual Health Templates.Today, we’re pleased to announce that Enghouse has released its TouchPoint Attendant, one of the first attendant consoles tailored for Skype for Business Online.
From Enghouse, which is using Skype for Business to more efficiently route inbound customer calls with its new attendant console, to Smartsheet, which has incorporated Skype for Business into their collaborative work management platform, companies are making Skype for Business the backbone of custom communications scenarios.


DSC_0021Working Abroad

Creating the Perfect Remote Workspace

Working remotely is a great experience, but having your own workspace can be difficult to keep up with.  Follow these helpful hints for making your home office feel less like a place to work and more like a place to create.

Staying organized

Cluttered desk = cluttered mind.  Before you start getting to work, clean up your desk space to help you set a productive tone.  Plus you won't be tempted to take a work-break to clean up your space so you can stay on-task all day.

Go paperless - OneNote

One of the best ways to de-clutter is by going (at least mostly) paperless.  By using OneNote to jot down notes and Planner to organize your tasks, you can skip all the notebooks and to-do list post-it notes.  Plus, you'll be doing your part to be a little more eco-friendly!


When you're traveling, one of the hardest things is being away from your home and loved ones.  Keep pictures of them around your desk to make you feel a little less far away.  For more decorative inspiration, try decorating with memoribelia from your travels. I try to collect a map from each place I go to hang as a collage on my wall instead of a typical Pink Floyd poster.


Having your office in the same room as your bed can make it harder to stop your work and destress before going to sleep.  Keep your office space relaxed by adding some Zen - I love lighting some candles and I have a piece of bamboo to add a little life into the room (for a lot less money than fresh flowers).

Motivational music

Without all the hustle and bustle of working in an office, sitting at your home desk can seem pretty quiet. Find a good playlist that keeps you upbeat and motivated throughout the day to make remote work a little less lonely.


Even with crazy time differences, it is always possible to find a time to Skype your colleagues. Skype for Business makes you feel like you're a part of the team. Plus it's free of international charges that come with phone calls. Always make sure your voice is still heard.
Can't stay productive at home? Find a local coffee shop or library to study in! I found this one the other day that made me excited to come back and get to work:



Working Abroad

4 Secrets to Staying Productive While Exploring

By Kelly Cronin
 Staying on task is hard in the office, but it can be even harder when you are trying to work remotely or while you're traveling.  When you're out and about, usually the last thing you want to do is sit inside and work.  I've found a lot of things can get me to stay productive, regardless of where I am.  Follow these four tips to staying productive when you're adventuring:

1. Manage Your Time Wisely

 If you're working from another country, like I am, chances are there is a pretty significant time difference. Take advantage of this! I usually spend my days exploring the city or getting errands done, so when I have all my free time in the evenings, I'm excited to sit down and get some work done.  I always know I am saving a lot of money by staying in and working on projects instead of meeting up with friends at bars and other spots.  Save those nights for the weekends! When I get work done at night, it's also easier for my boss to answer my emails, so any questions I have I can save for evenings and then work on those projects immediately instead of waiting until the next day.

2. Don't forget to take in the views

When you're working abroad, scenic views are not hard to find.  Finding a place to work with a scenic backdrop makes responding to emails seem less like work and more like a vacation.  When it's warm out, I like to sit on my balcony and take in the views of the Calanques while I work.  Instead of being sucked into my computer inside, I take breaks to enjoy the view and remember where I am.


3. Keep Track of Your Tasks and Projects

Using Office 365 apps like Planner can be a productivity lifesaver.  When you're on different timezones, it can be confusing to keep track of emails and notes for things you have to get done - and when they need to be done by.  Planner organizes your tasks so you see all the tasks you need to do.  With Planner, you can also keep tasks in different categories and groups.  For example, I have individual tasks I need to get done in my "Projects" folder, but I also have projects in the "Marketing" group.  You can still view all your tasks at once, no matter what group or category they belong to.  Set due dates and add comments to help you manage your time and priorities.  Finished a task? Simply check off that you've completed it, and the entire group will get an email letting them know you've completed it. Plus there is nothing more satisfying than checking off something you needed to get done!

Working Abroad Week2 - Managed Solution

4. Never Stop Exploring

There are always a million things to get done, but the best way to increase your productivity is to stay inspired! What better way to find some inspiration then to spend time exploring new places? Take your lunch break at a restaurant in a different part of town you haven't seen yet.  Be sure to walk around and explore the area.  Follow France's lead and take a two-hour lunch break if you can.  Getting out and exploring can lead to new business ideas, creative concepts to introduce, and overall better work performance.  Plus with Office 365 mobile apps, you can always take your work on-the-go. No more boring bus rides into the city!


Working Abroad

OneNote Makes Working Without WiFi Do-able

By Kelly Cronin
I just started my next semester working remotely part-time while studying abroad in Marseille, France. Although my journey has just begun, I have already met many obstacles for working while abroad.  Finding time, energy, and motivation to work when you first arrive in a new country is painfully difficult. Taking it slow the first few days is key, so after that you can pick rainy days or gloomy nights to cozy up in your apartment and buckle down for a few hours.  Perhaps the biggest challenge so far has to be finding good WiFi.  When traveling, reliable wi-fi is hard to find, and even harder to ask for if you don't speak the language.  The good news is OneNote has come to my rescue!
Here's how to use OneNote without connecting to wifi:


If you know you are going to be without wifi for a while, but you still need to get some work done, make sure you set up your OneNote ahead of time. Download documents you need from Outlook or SharePoint and add them to your OneNote.  There is nothing worse than trying to get some work done and then realizing you don't have everything you need. Think of what you can do without wifi, such as writing posts, preparing topics for presentations, and editing images.


Make a To-Do List of things you need to get done with OneNote's check boxes.  You can even set certain tasks as priorities. As I sat on the plane from Boston to Paris, I came up with a quick list of everything I can get done while traveling to and from anywhere:


Work - from literally anywhere!

Working without wifi might not be ideal, but hey a seven hour train ride is not ideal either.  So make the most of both of them by using OneNote to start on any projects available to you. Even when I am sitting on the bus from school to go downtown or grocery shopping, I can use my OneNote mobile app to access everything my desktop OneNote has to offer.  So if I'm on-the-go (without any data of course), I can instantly jot down blog ideas.  And sometimes people watching on the bus is where I get the best inspiration.

Now I must go catch my train to Nice - au revoir!



New Employee Announcement: Rob Rubio


Rob Rubio joins the Managed Solution team as our Business Development Manager for the Los Angeles and Orange County area.  After growing up in Ohio, Rob moved to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry, including working for CSI: Crime scene Investigation as their production assistant, working his way up to Writers' Office manager.
He decided to pursue his MBA and chose UCLA's Anderson School of Business. This year, he is happy to be back in LA representing Managed Solution after five years living in San Diego from 2010-2015.
When not working hard, Rob tends to develop his own projects and goals for fun outside of work. This fall he'll take a DELE B2-Level Professional Spanish Fluency exam. After settling in with his new role at Managed Solution, he'd like to find colleagues and friends who are musicians and interested in starting a cover band. Rob also enjoys traveling and visited family in Cuba this summer for an exciting tour of the countryside, including Viñales and Piñar del Rio.
We are beyond excited to have Rob join our team, and we cannot wait to see what he brings to our ballgame!



On Friday, September 23, 2016 Microsoft and the Small Business Administration hosted a workshop, Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs to Start and Expand Business. Jamie Gasior, Business Development Director, Arizona provided additional resources and tech tips at the educational event for veteran business owners, startups and entrepreneurs.


Working Parents Day

By Kelly Cronin
We asked our Managed Solution Team to send us pictures of what being a working parent really looks like. The response we got was somewhat unexpected, but was well put by our Cloud MarketPlace Manager, Mary Johnson, who said, "I don’t know that these are pictures of what it’s like to be a working parent because I don’t usually have a free hand to take a picture with." And it's true - an estimated 60.6% of families have both working parents. Work-life balance is a difficult task to manage for employees, employers, and their families. At Managed Solution, we have new flexible work arrangements, that give employees the opportunity to work part-time from home and part-time in the office. As a result, our team can have more balance between their work life and their personal life.

Whether it's being there for their first steps, picking them up from their first day of school, or watching their last soccer game, every moment is precious. Take a look at what our working parents treasure and appreciate every day:

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