OTELCO’s Transition to Telecommuting

On March 15th, OTELCO President and CEO Richard Clark issued a company-wide memo explaining that OTELCO staff would need to make the transition to telecommuting, with strict safety protocols in place for essential customer-facing field staff. Within that week, 75% of the OTELCO team working remotely.

This as a monumental task for our IT department. “The third week of March was very busy for us,” remembers OTELCO IT manager Joseph St. Louis. “OTELCO IT worked very closely with our management of all levels to ensure everyone could work remotely.” Fortunately, Joseph’s team was able to rely on the cloud-based technology tools employees were already utilizing. Here is a breakdown of the technology we used, and a special episode of our podcast, Evolution Digital, exploring the transition to telecommuting through one of our newest team members, Tina Stone.

Telecommuting Tools

Microsoft 365

Microsoft  365 made our  transition to telecommuting possible. We used the following tools to stay communicating and collaborating throughout our time at home:

Microsoft Teams: With teams, we were able to keep in touch with our coworkers, through chat, video, and audio calls. We even conducted our company-wide quarterly meeting virtually through Teams during the pandemic.

OneDrive:  By storing our documents on the OneDrive cloud environment, we were easily able to share documents, even collaborating in real-time.

Outlook: Through Outlook, our IT and HR team were able to keep all employees up to date on essential information, like policy updates and virtual team building events.

SharePoint: With SharePoint, departments were able to build their own “sites” where they could post updates, store relevant documents, and communicate about customer initiatives.

An OTELCO virtual lunch on Mircosoft Teams!

VPN Access

Another vital part of OTELCO’s telecommuting experience was our use of a Virtual Private Network or VPN. We used a VPN because of the private customer information we deal with on a daily basis. That information needs to stay protected on the OTELCO network. Usually, when in the office, employees work from computers hardwired into the network. That was not possible during the stay at home orders, so, to make sure employees had access to the information they needed, OTELCO utilized VPN technology. Remote workers were able to log into the VPN to access the OTELCO network without sacrificing data security.

Hosted Phones

Being able to move our phones from the office to our homes was a big part of OTELCO’s telecommuting transition. During COVID, we had a record-breaking amount of calls to both customer service and tech support. Simple call forwarding to a home phone or cell would never have allowed our employees to handle that call volume. Luckily, using the same cloud-based HPBX units and call center programs we sell to our business clients, we were able to take calls as if we were still in the office.

Onboarding with OTELCO During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, many new employees joined the OTELCO team. Amongst them was Tina Stone. Not only was Tina new to our team, but her entire position was new to the company as well. She is our first sales account executive out of Alabama, tasked with promoting the very products we all used to work remotely during the pandemic. This week, podcast host Tracy Scheckel interviewed Tina about her experience onboarding during a pandemic and how she was able to foster new customer relationships virtually.

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Transitioning Back to the Office

Like many businesses, OTELCO is finally starting to transition back into our office. Whether your organization is doing the same or keeping your employees at home, OTELCO has the technology to help. Book a virtual visit with one of our technology experts (like Tina) to discover how we can boost efficiency and security for your company.

Book a Virtual-Visit with an OTELCO IT Expert