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Virtual Offices Offer Stay-cation Freedom

CHICAGO—On Friday, we looked at how many Americans are giving up their vacations for financial reasons—and how allowing employees to telecommute from a virtual office a few days over the summer might help reduce burnout.

The article was based on a CareerBuilder survey, which found that 19 percent of workers said they can't afford to go on vacation, which is down from 24 percent in 2011. The CareerBuilder survey also offered other vacation trend insights.

1. The duration of vacations is shrinking post-recession.
This year, 17 percent of workers took or planned to take a vacation for 10 days or more. That's down from 24 percent in 2007.

2. Many workers contact work while on vacation. Three in ten workers contact work during their vacation, on par with last year. Thirty-seven percent of managers say they expect their employees to check with work while on vacation, although most say only if the employee is involved in a big project or major issue going on with the company. This is where virtual office technologies can really streamline operations. You don’t want employees to have to work during vacation, but if they have to join a conference call you want to make it as simple as possible.

3. Employees are letting paid time off go to waste. Fifteen percent of workers reported they gave up vacation days last year because they didn't have time to use them, down slightly from 16 percent who gave up days in 2010.

4. "Stay-cations" are a popular option. Thirty-eight percent of workers stayed home or are planning to stay home this year. This is another place where virtual offices can help employees take some downtime without totally abandoning the team during a major project.

5. Working while the family vacations is fairly common. Twenty-three percent of workers say they once had to work while the family went on vacation without them, consistent with last year (24 percent). Again, virtual offices should free employees, not tie them down. Whether employees choose to take vacations, stay-cations, or no down time at all, virtual offices can give employees more freedom.
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Virtual Offices, Vacations and Burnout

Study: Virtual Office Technologies Support Flexible Working

LONDON—On Wednesday we looked at a Polycom survey that reveals 66 percent of participants pointing to flexible working having a larger financial impact on business than cutting operational costs. We also explored the role of virtual offices in enabling flexible work.

Today we’ll look at another key finding in the survey: virtual office technologies like video conferencing play an important role in supporting flexible working strategies.

According to the Polycom survey, nearly 60 percent of responding companies are keeping on-site, remote, and mobile workers connected and collaborating face-to-face via high-definition interactive video.

What’s more, 72 percent of respondents say that video collaboration is helping their companies become more productive and efficient. Video collaboration solutions for employees working at home or on the go, such as video software for mobile devices and laptops, is helping to further drive the usage of video with remote and flexible working employees. All of this falls under the domain of virtual office technologies.

For all the benefits virtual office technologies offer employers, employees are also benefiting from flexible working. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported that they experience greater job satisfaction as a result of flexible work strategies. And almost all respondents (97 percent) report that satisfied employees are harder-working and more productive.

Remote working is widespread across Europe, with 77 percent of companies surveyed offering their employees some flexibility in their working hours, and 68 percent regularly letting them work away from the office. All this points to the continued value of virtual offices.
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Study: Virtual Offices Empower Employee Productivity

LONDON—Flexible working has a larger financial impact on businesses than cutting operational costs. So say 66 percent of respondents in a Polycom survey. The study offers more proof of the financial viability of virtual office technologies.

A flexible working strategy empowers workers with the ability to work at home or out of the office regularly or occasionally. According to the survey, companies with flexible working programs report that employees who participate are 39 percent more productive than others.

Considering that, on average, respondents say that more than half of a company's ability to generate revenue depends on the positive productivity of its employees, the extra productivity of flexibly working employees has a significant impact on the bottom line. Companies looking for new ways to succeed and thrive should tap into virtual offices and virtual office technologies.

"At Polycom we've seen that flexible working is proliferating across Europe and now the Gulf, and these survey results provide further evidence for this," says Gary Rider, president at EMEA Polycom.

"In the past, flexible working has primarily been considered an employee benefit, enabling a better work-life balance and reducing travel time and costs. But in fact, these results show that a flexible working strategy is a huge benefit to the business too, improving employee productivity by as much as 39 percent, and video collaboration is also a key component, keeping people connected and collaborating from wherever they are.”

Virtual offices are part and parcel of the flexible working trend. With the rise of mobile workers, virtual offices are filling a need for a hybrid of technologies and traditional office space. Polycom has prove once again that alternative workplace strategies are vital to the future of a productive workforce.
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What Do Virtual Office Users Have in Common With Retired Workers?

PHILADELPHIA—Stress. New research from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is taking another look at the issue. So listen up and learn how a virtual office can help you reduce your stress levels.

CMU’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts worked to determine if psychological stress is associated with gender, age, education, income, employment status and/or race and ethnicity—and if the distributions of stress across demographics were constant over the 26-year period.

The results: women, individuals with lower income and those with less education reported more stress. They also show that as Americans age, they experience less stress and that retirees consistently report low levels of stress.

"We know that stress contributes to poorer health practices, increased risk for disease, accelerated disease progression and increased mortality," says Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences who is a leading expert on the relationship between stress and disease.

Cohen and Janicki-Deverts found that those most negatively affected by the 2008-09 economic downturn were white, middle-aged men with college educations and full-time jobs. The authors suggested that this group may have had the most to lose since both their jobs and their savings were at risk.

"It's hard to say if people are more stressed now than before because the first survey was conducted by phone and the last two were done online," Cohen said. "But, it's clear that stress is still very much present in Americans' lives, putting them at greater risk for many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders."

Stress is just a part of life. There’s nothing we can do to completely eliminate it. But working from a virtual office can help you cut back on stress. Virtual offices can empower those telecommuting options. Virtual offices can give employees the freedom to work at least part of the day, or several days of the week, at home. With that comes an escape from stressful commuting time, office politics and just the pressure of trying to meet deadlines in a noisy environment.

Check out this video on how to deal with stress:

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