Today I’ve been working from home. 

Once breakfast was out of the way, I booted up my company-supplied Windows laptop. It automatically connected to my home broadband (only because I’ve worked from home before so the laptop "remembers" the credentials) and then automatically connected to the corporate network (again, it remembers the settings from last time).

In just a few minutes I’m able to fire up Outlook to check my emails and open up a PowerPoint file on my team’s shared drive and begin working on it.

Later in the day I had to attend a conference call. Five of us, all from different parts of the world, needed to have an update meeting for a project that we’re working on.

When it came to dialling into the conference call, I had several options:

Telephone

The dial in number was a toll-free number so it wouldn’t have cost me anything (if it had, I’d have claimed it back on expenses). However, there is no telephone within the vicinity of my desk.

I could have used my mobile but 0800 toll-free numbers aren’t toll-free from my mobile (that’s O2 for you)

Lync

Everyone in our organisation has Microsoft Lync installed on their computer. Lync is a communication tool that allows you to:

  • Send and receive Instant Messages to colleagues (and other nominated individuals such as suppliers, customers and partners)
  • Make and receive audio calls and video calls
  • Participate in an online screen sharing session – other people can view what is displayed on your screen (if you choose to share it) and you to view the content on someone else’s screen

It doesn’t matter where I am – at home, in the office, in StarBucks, as long as my laptop is connected to the corporate network, I can fire up Lync and use the on-screen telephone keypad to dial into the conference call. Rather than using the built in speakers and microphone, I have a cheap USB headset so that I can talk and listen.

The problem right now with our configuration at work is that when you login to the corporate network remotely, the quality of the audio in Lync is awful.

One solution to the problem is to dial in using the Lync app on my iPhone. Even though I’m using my iPhone, because it’s connected to my home broadband and not using 3G (through O2), I won’t be charged.

Skype

My preferred solution was to use Skype on my Mac. My Mac is on my desk, next to my Windows laptop. 

Apart from the fact that Skype doesn’t charge for toll-free numbers, it meant that I could use my Blue Yeti microphone and Sennheiser headphones, ensuring excellent quality audio. 

The other benefit was that I could record the call using the Call Recorder app from Ecamm.