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The Virtual Employee


Submitted By jgolby1973
Words 3403
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The Virtual Employee
Orange Business Services

Jonathan Golby
Session: March 2010
Professor: Frank Castanon
The Telecommuter 2
Introduction 2
Definition of Telecommuting 2
Overview of Orange Business Services 3
Company Background 3
Operations Background 3
Current Issues 4
Managing Employees Virtually 4
Managing Real Estate Costs 5
Investments in Technology 5
Increase Work Productivity and Family Balance 6
Proposed Solution 6
Voice over IP 7
Laptop Computers 7
Multifunction Devices 8
Video Conferencing 9
Network Security 9
Reccomendations 10
Conclusions 10
Implementation Schedule 12

The Telecommuter Today’s office environment is constantly evolving. Employers are always looking for ways to cut costs as well as at the same time increase employee moral by improving the work life balance. There are many benefits of having employees telecommute; these items include real estate cost savings, improved motivation, increased productivity and skill retention. Along the same lines, there are many advantages for the employee such as flexible hours along with reduced travel time and commuting costs. With any business situation there also disadvantages, for both the employee, and the employer. Some of these disadvantages include, how to manage employee’s virtually, and costly investments in technology. In order for the executive committee to fully understand telecommuting we must define what the concept of telecommuting is. “Telecommuting and telework are terms that are often used interchangeably to describe employees who periodically, regularly, or exclusively perform work for their employers from home or another remote location that is equipped with the appropriate computer based technology to transfer work to the central organization. While the structure of telework varies across companies, most arrangements offer employees an option to perform their work responsibilities at home or the main office, and some arrangements offer further options among multiple satellite sites that are geographically more convenient than the traditional office space maintain the impetus for developing alternative telework arrangements continues to be compelling due to lengthy commutes for employees (high gasoline costs and time; environmental pollution,) potential terrorist acts (especially in densely populated cities and high-rise office buildings, natural disasters that can impact business sustainability, and demands by legislators for work environment changes” (Hunton and Norman, 2010, pg 67-68).

Overview of Orange Business Services

Orange Business Services is part of a global conglomerate that falls under an umbrella of the France Telecom group of companies. France Telecom itself provides mobile, internet, and fixed telecommunication services to 193 million customers in 32 countries. With the power of France Telecom and Orange Business Services, product offerings range from mobility, telephony, unified communications, networking, and equipment sales, along with various other offerings including IT solutions, contract service management, industry solutions, and professional services. France Telecom on average employs 181,000 people worldwide of which 80,000 work outside of France. ( Orange Business Services and France Telecom are currently undergoing massive changes here not only here in the United States but also around the globe. The group has recently expanded operations over the last couple of years by purchasing a variety of small equipment sales and contract service oriented firms globally. During this expansion they have also built and opened up a large worldwide operations management center in Mumbai, India. This new operations management center is responsible for IT Mainframe Teams, Helpdesk Support Teams, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable Teams, and Oracle Operations Teams. This new center employs over 20,000 people working around the clock, seven days a week supporting various parts of the world. Along with this major global expansion and change in operations, Orange Business Services made another acquisition, a local equipment distribution and service company called Tech Force in Florida. Because of this acquisition 275 Tech Force employees are now considered part of the many 181,000 France Telecom employees. Because Orange Business Services has encountered such global growth and change, we must address some current issues. These issues include, managing employee’s virtually, managing real estate costs, managing investments in information technology, and finally managing employees productivity thus providing greater work / family balance.
Current Issues

The current issue for Orange Business Services and France Telecom boils down to the massive amounts of employees, not only here in the United States but globally as well. Where do we put all of these employees how do you manage them on a global scale to make sure you still maintain a competitive advantage. At the same time when you have this many employees there needs to be vast amounts of investment in information technology. Finally, with this many employees, programs need to be put into place to increase their work life balance.
How do you manage 181,000 people who are placed globally around the world. This is a massive undertaking, that must have the right strategic management structure in place. One structure that Orange Business Services has is breaking large areas of the company into divisions. These divisions then have division heads, under these division heads are many department heads, and these many department heads, are a plethora of employees under them. There may be 10 different equipment resale procurement departments, or 10 different project management departments all managed and run differently than the other.
Business Issue #1 – Managing Employees Virtually
There are many schools of thought on how to manage people in an virtual environment. For the telecommuter that is very difficult because you are not physically in the office. For some managers this is a hard pill to swallow as they feel if they do not see their employees physically in an office seat, they feel they are not working. This train of thought is further proved according to the article Working Smart Working Mobile “Some executives who got their MBA’s in the 80’s may be stuck in outdated modes of thought. There are managers who think that they have to see an employee at a desk to know he or she is working.” (Vietze, 2009, pg 18-21)
Any company that moves to a telecommuting business model must put new management practices in place. Managers also need to be constantly trained in how to deal with virtual employees. A good example of this is found in Incentive Magazine: “For a group of people who may never get the opportunity to meet face-to-face, it is the manager's responsibility to consistently look for ways to keep the entire workforce engaged. Managers are often faced with the challenge of keeping the virtual team members connected with not only the home base of employees but with each other” (Hayes-Brown, T., & Massiello, L., 2009, pg 34-35).
Business Issue #2 – Managing Real Estate Cost
Next to an employee’s gross payroll package, office space “real estate is the second biggest expense for most companies running between $15,000 to $25,000 per seat annually” (Illia, 2009, Pg 18). An even more astounding figure is “the average square footage per office occupant has risen from 396 square feet in 2007 to 435 square feet in 2009.” (Illia, 2009, Pg 18) Utilizing the employment figures for France Telecom taking an average cost per seat annually of $20,000, and having 181,000 employees, that comes to $3.62 billon annually in real estate expenses. Imagine the cost savings just moving half of the employees to telecommuting positions. The savings would be approximately, $1.81 billion added to the bottom line, therefore decreasing operating costs, and increasing profit margin.
Business Issue #3 – Investments in Technology

In order for employees to be successful as telecommuters, there must be investments made in various forms of information technology. These investments would include, utilizing Voice over IP telecommunications, laptop computers, all in one printer devices with fax, scan, and printing capabilities, web cameras for video conferencing, and lastly investments in network security.
Business Issue #4 - Increase Work Productivity and Family Balance

According to a June 2009 Society of Human Resource Management report, Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century: Meeting the Needs of the Changing Workforce, depicts the positive way in which telecommuting has on both employees and employers. “The quality of employees’ personal and family life is affected positively as a result of implementing flexible work arrangements, according to 68% of HR professionals polled by the Society Human Resource Managers. Ninety-One percent of HR professionals said they believe implementation of formal flexible work arrangements had a positive impact on employee morale, specifically job satisfaction and engagement. In addition, the report says, companies with formal flexible work arrangements said their telecommuters’ productivity is up and their absenteeism is down.” (Miller, 2010, Pg 17)
Proposed Solution

In order for employees to be effective at their jobs as a telecommuter there needs to be some major investments in information technology. These investments range from Voice over IP solutions, to laptop computers, to multifunction devices, to video conferencing, to new network security. Once these solutions are put into place an employee can pretty much work anywhere in the world and be just as productive if not more productive. Because Orange Business Service is a customer and sales driven organization, these investments in information technology make customer interaction seamless.

Technology Investment Solution #1 - Voice over IP Before we can understand the impacts of this solution on the customer, we must first understand the technical background of Voice over IP. Lauden & Lauden’s definition states: “Voice over IP or VoIP technology delivers voice information in digital form using packet switching, avoiding tolls charged by local and long distance telephone networks. Calls that would ordinarily be transmitted over public telephone networks would travel over the corporate network based on the internet protocol, or the public internet. Voice calls can then be made and received with a desktop computer equipped with a microphone and speakers or VoIP enable telephone.” (Lauden & Lauden, 2010, Pg 267) Voice over IP technology has many benefits for both a customer and for business. Starting with the customer benefits. A good example would be a telecommuter working in Tampa, Florida working from their home. They get a phone call at the office, however they are not in the office and are working from home. If the company had VoIP they could receive a phone call right from their computer and this would be transparent to the customer, therefore reducing the lag time from the employee having to constantly check their voicemail at the office and wait for a return phone call, therefore, reducing customer satisfaction. From a business expense perspective, having VoIP greatly reduces telecommunications costs, which lowers operating expenses, which in turn increases the bottom line. Technology Investment Solution #2 - Laptop computers
For any customer and service type organization to be successful there must be an investment in computers. Prior to Tech Force’s acquisition by Orange Business Services every employee utilized a desktop computer. Since the acquisition every employee has been transitioned to a laptop computer. Wikipedia’s definition of a laptop is: “A laptop is a personal computer designed for mobile use and small and light enough to sit on a person’s lap while in use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer including display, a keyboard, a pointing device, speakers, and a power source into a small single source unit. (
Investments in laptop computers have many benefits to both the customer and to the telecommuter. One of the largest benefits is customer is service. Let’s use the example of a sales person visiting the customer. Because Orange Business Services utilizes Oracles Enterprise software solution, the sales person is able to give them accurate information right on the spot. They don’t have to waste time contacting someone in an office or call center to find out the status of an order. The flip side of this equation, the employee would be able to now bring his office with him everywhere, and be able to work anywhere, therefore increasing their productivity. For the telecommuter, they now can do their job, have everything they need from a technical prospective at their fingertips.
Technology Investment Solution #3 - Multifunction Devices (MFD’s)

Orange Business Services is currently moving to a more Eco friendly business model by utilizing a totally paperless system for all aspects of business. The first division to go paperless was the Human Resources group. Most everything in this department is paperless. The only items that are not paperless are employee tax forms which much be maintained in a local office. A new employee fills out their application using a web interface, the application prints out a signature page, which is then signed, and scanned into the system. Instead of printing out 5 pages of an application, one page is printed, and then destroyed. This process is all completed on a Multifunction Device or MFD. Wikipedia defines a MFP as “an office machine which incorporates the functionality of multiple devices in one so as to have a smaller footprint in a home setting. These devices provide centralized document management, distribution, and production in large office settings. A typical MFD may act as a combination printer, scanner, photocopier, fax machine.” (
Utilizing this technology can make a telecommuter more effective in their job function from a customer service perspective. Particularly in this example, let’s say a customer faxes over a purchase order. They send the fax to a specified fax number that routes right to the employees laptop computer. The employee then has the choice of printing it out or working right from the fax. Let’s say the customer wants a signed acknowledgement back. If the employee is telecommuting they can print out the fax, sign it, scan it, and fax it back without the customer even knowing that they are sitting at home comfortably dressed.
Technology Investment Solution #4 – Video Conferencing
Video Conferencing gives Orange Business Services the advantage to add the human touch to meetings without the expense of travel. To fully understand this concept we must define video conferencing. Wikipedia defines it as: “a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. It has also been called 'visual collaboration' and is a type of groupware.” (
Technology Investment Solution #5 – Network Security
Network Security is crucial not only to Orange Business Services but to every business out there. Because of the size of Orange Business Service, network security is top priority. We must understand what the concept of network security is. Wikipedia defines networks security as the following: “The terms network security and information security are often used interchangeably. Network security is generally taken as providing protection at the boundaries of an organization by keeping out intruders (crackers). Information security, however, explicitly focuses on protecting data resources from malware attack or simple mistakes by people within an organization by use of data loss prevention (DLP) techniques.” (
Orange Business Services utilizes maximum amounts of network security. The first layer is for windows network passwords. These passwords have to be 8 characters long and in a mix of both numeric and alphanumeric, and are required to be changed every 90 days. Every program that an employee needs to utilize from customer service to accounting to even using a multifunction device in an office requires a network id and a password. Since the acquisition of the US based smaller companies, Orange Business Services has started utilizing token technology. A token randomly generates a new number every 60 seconds. This number is managed by a token software that keeps track of the tokens random number generator and sometimes needs to be synchronized. This token technology allows employees to access the network anywhere in the world. This technology makes it very easy for employees who telecommute to work from a remote location, and allow them to access the corporate network.
Orange Business Service is a global conglomerate with operations all over the world. In order for a company of this size, not only in revenues but also in human capital, they must have in place very strategic management practices in to maintain their competitive advantage. One way to assist in maintaining this competitive advantage is to follow the current trends in human capital management by moving major departmental areas to telecommuting. Putting this plan into effect will take a lot of work just due to the large amount of people employed. A strategic project plan will need to be devised that encompasses how to manage employees, what technological investments to make, how to train employees to be productive, and what effects telecommuting will have on the bottom line.
There are many benefits to telecommuting as discussed in the paragraphs above. The first major benefit is increasing employee work life balance. Once you increase an employees work life balance, they become more productive. The second major benefit is customer service. For sales and service organizations, this job is never done. It’s is something constantly going on. Customer will benefit from telecommuting purely on the basis of availability of Orange Business Services staff. A good example of this is, a customer has a middle of the evening breakdown, and needs to get a new replacement piece of equipment. They know that they can call on Orange Business Service because a piece of equipment can be ordered, shipped overnight and at their site first thing in the morning instead of delaying the process an additional day.
There are many technologies that a Telecommuter will need to complete their jobs effectively and at the same time keep close constant contact with management. These technologies range from utilizing Voice over IP, laptop computers, video conferencing, and multifunction devices. Granted, there needs to be a major investment, but these technologies are an investment in the companies future.
Many departments can benefit from telecommuting. The first division is the sales group. One of the major keys in a sales organization is keeping your feet on the street and in the customers office. Telecommuting will allow this to happen because sales people will be able to do their jobs from home, and even from a customers office. Other divisions that would benefit from telecommuting are the human resources group, the sales support group, accounting, legal, and many other departments.
In conclusion, telecommuting can affect the bottom line of Orange Business Services. It can not only affects the financial but the employee work life balance. I recommend the following schedule:
Implementation Schedule Year 1 1. Research and investment into technologies to make employees effective at doing their jobs as telecommuters. 2. Management training on how to manage employees in a virtual environment. 3. Move smaller job divisions to a telecommuting model on a part time basis (I suggest for a trial period of 3 months) 4. After initial 3 month trial period gather all participants together for a telecommuter summit to learn what could be done better. 5. Start training managers and employees for another core group of telecommuters.
Implementation Schedule Year 2 1. Continue to migrate more divisions to a telecommuting model on a trail basis. 2. Continue to have user summits to learn what create better job satisfaction amongst users.
Implementation Schedule Year 3 1. Continue migrating the remaining divisions to a telecommuting model. 2. Research newest human capital trends to become more competitive using this new telecommuting model.
As you can this telecommuting plan should be completed over a two to three year period of time and not be transitioned to quickly. Naturally there will be growing pains, but doesn’t every organization have growing pains when implementing a new program?

Hayes-Brown, T., & Massiello, L. (2009). Keep Your Virtual Employees IN THE LOOP.
Incentive, 183(6), 34-35.

Hunton, J.E. and Norman, C. (2010). The Impact of Alternative Telework Arrangements on
Organizational Commitment: Insights from a Longitudinal Field Experiment. Journal of Information Systems, 24(1), 67-90

Illia, T. (2009). Workstation Transformation, Las Vegas Business Press, October 12, 2009, Pg 18

Lauden, K.C., & Lauden, J.P., 2010, Telecommunications, the Internet, and Wireless
Technology. Management Information Systems, Managing the Digital Firm. 2010(11), 267

Miller, S. (2010) Flexible Hours in the Ranks. Society of Human Resource Managers Magazine,
2010 HR Trendbook, 16-17

Vietze, A. (2009). Working Smart Working Mobile. OfficePro, 69(6), 18-21

Definitions From:, retrieved, April 1, 2010

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