Better call Paul: The times are changing

Better call Paul: The times are changing (Photo credit: Thinkstock/Creatas)

Earlier this month, we introduced you to Paul Matthews: a London PR manager who lives in Kent and felt as though he used to spend his life on the train, travelling between his home and the office.

By enabling him to cut out the commute without it affecting his ability to do his job, conference calling has changed his life for the better.

However, in a few months, his routine is set to be turned on its head once more…

Paul's tale of having his work-life balance dramatically improved through the use of free conference call services is not a unique one. Even in his own company, it's something more and more of his colleagues are taking advantage of.

"We've had a few managers start a family and that's something now on the horizon for me," he explains.

"For them, the ability to work from home is very important and the company has been very flexible and of the view that, if you need more time off and can make yourself flexible for calls here and there, they understand why you need to be at home. It's nice to have that level of understanding from an employer."

With Paul's wife Elaine due to give birth to their first child in May, it's an exciting time for the Matthews clan. However, for many people across the country that are employed by firms that are less knowledgeable about the benefits flexible working can bring, it's a time of stress and worry over how exactly they'll be able to balance raising a family with a pursuing a career.

It's something that's also crossed Paul's mind, with the financial responsibilities of the household falling mainly on his shoulders. Elaine won't be bringing in anywhere near as much money to help to pay the bills because of her maternity arrangements and with an extra mouth to feed, the costs could soon pile up.

But while some people in a similar position would feel under pressure to spend more time at the office to bring in the cash, Paul's looking forward to spending fewer hours away from his loved ones.

"Where I work, in terms of paternity, they are very understanding. For the first few weeks, the company has said 'you don't have to take it all as a holiday, you don't even have to take it as paternity. You can work from home, just make yourself available'."

It's this attitude and focus on the wellbeing of staff that has convinced Paul he's with a company he wants to stay with for life.

Trust me, I'm a flexible worker

That loyalty has been borne not out of a sense of duty, but from a mutual respect demonstrated on both sides. Paul has proven he can base himself from home and remain focused in a non-office environment and in return, his employer has granted him even more freedom to build his work life around his home one.

With the jobs market back on the road to recovery, this in an important point to recognise. For a start, firms can no longer rely on the fear factor to stop their most talented staff from looking elsewhere for an improved deal.

Just six months ago, there was the perception that any job was better than none and workers were more concerned about keeping their post, regardless of how they felt they were being treated. However, this cautious approach, fueled by a rise in demand for personnel, has since been replaced by one where the power is back with the employee. If they don't receive the attention, tools, salary or flexibility they feel as though they deserve, it's much easier for them to take a 'grass is greener' approach and jump ship without a second thought.

Paul can relate to the problem, but says it's fortunately not something he's had personal experience of.

"The economy has been tough. I'm lucky, because my company is run really well so people haven't lost jobs over the last few years. As long as employees can see the top level understand their situation and there's an evolution to the way we work, then there can still be a healthy relationship between the two."

Of course, in Paul's case, the evolution he talks about is that of conference calling and flexible working.

No manual necessary

For home-working to be effective, personnel need to have all the tools they need to be able to do their jobs.

One of the misconceptions of this technology is that it requires fancy equipment, hours of initial setup time and an intricate knowledge of the internet.

In truth, it's quite the opposite. To host or participate in a call, all Buzz Conferencing users need is their phone. It doesn't matter if it's a mobile, landline or even a phone box.

While video conferencing and other web-based technology requires the need for a solid internet connection and can leave you hammering the keyboard with frustration as a result of hardware compatibility issues and software downloads that need to be repeatedly installed, our services are completely painless in comparison.

This means anyone has the potential to conference call from wherever they like, regardless of the facilities available to them. As a result, a world of possibilities are opened up for employees and businesses alike.

Not only that, but it's also possible to use your basic utilities to connect with anyone around the world, with 100 per cent reliability. Advanced features include free recording and 24-hour phone-based support to help you get the job done. Yes, even from a phone box.

The future starts now

If you're reading this and can't help drawing parallels between your situation and Paul's, there's every reason why you can give conference calling a try.

In terms of what the future holds, who knows. But Paul certainly hopes it involves more people being able to take advantage of the kind of luxuries and comforts he currently enjoys.

"More homeworkers? I hope so. These days, we're working an increasing number of hours and working from home will strike a much better work-life balance for people. To be at home when your children are there, especially if they're very young, or to be able to put a couple of hours in when they're at playgroup and then spend time with them later on, that's flexibility."

The great thing is the malleable element to conference calling can also be applied to other aspects carrying out your daily duties.

For example, as well as having an office in London, Paul's employer also has one in Manchester. Just like how Paul uses the technology to communicate between his home and his colleagues in the capital, his workmates can just as easily hold cross-departmental meetings with their northern comrades without having to spend hours travelling up there.

It makes running a large organisation infinitely easier than it used to be and this approach can also be extended across international borders. This means a business is likely to experience fewer difficulties when exporting its goods or services and moving into new markets, because the lines of communication are always open.

However, it's important to recognise face-to-face meetings will never disappear completely, with nothing ever likely to be able to replicate the impact that body language and the impression of physically being in the room with someone can make on a potential client.

That's why we suggest replacing one in every five gatherings or trips into the office with a call, to get you started on this new way of thinking and doing business. Over time, you can increase it if you like.

You'll notice the difference immediately in your energy levels, your reduced outgoings and ability to fit more into your day.

The times are changing and the shift is towards conference calling.

Don't believe us? Better call Paul.