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How Microsoft Office Communicator has changed my life

Back in August last year, Intergen implemented Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 so all staff could communicate via Microsoft Office Communicator (commonly referred to as OCS). And once I started using it, I never looked back. It changed my life. I’d hate to think what my day would be like now if someone played a cruel trick on me and took it off me. It’d be like losing one of my senses, like going blind.

But before I launch into the reasons why Communicator has revolutionised my working day… For those of you who don’t know, what is it, exactly?

Here’s how Microsoft describes it: Office Communicator 2007 R2 is a unified communications application that helps end users be more productive by enabling them to communicate and collaborate easily with others in different locations or time zones using a range of different communication options, including instant messaging (IM), voice, desktop sharing and video. Integration with programs across the Microsoft Office system - including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Groove, and SharePoint - gives end users many different ways to communicate directly from the context of their task.

Plus there is more information here.

I think it would be fair to say that as the receptionist, my day involves a fair bit of multitasking. Outside of my face-to-face interactions with staff and clients, Communicator is my main connection to the Intergen universe. My day revolves around it. To give you an example – right at this very moment I am having four Communicator conversations simultaneously and trying to solve people’s various emergencies and dilemmas. Right now it’s: Are our phones on global roaming already? Can you find a code for me? Have you had lunch? Johannes passed his exam – don’t forget to send an email out and update the spreadsheet.

And that’s what it’s like all day every day.

So what’s so great about Communicator? In a nutshell, it allows me to keep tabs on people. Think of it like a friendly Big Brother (or sister, in my case). It lets me do a number of things at once, and it puts me in touch with people instantly.

For example, at 8.30 in the morning the phone starts ringing off the hook and that’s right about the time that clients start stepping out of the lift too. With Communicator I can juggle it all with a smile on my face (how else do you think I got my nickname, The Radiant One?). I can talk to the clients whilst using Communicator to let staff members know they have arrived, and answer the phone on my hands-free headset.

Another great thing that comes in handy every day is the ability to see if people are at their desks. Communicator lets you know a person’s availability via their status, and I can get lots of other useful information about them too, like their title, the office they work in and any out of office information. I can send them an email via Communicator and I can also link to our company intranet to see where a person fits in the company structure.

I also don’t need to do anything to maintain the contacts list. I don’t have to add users, as it syncs with Outlook, which also lets me know where everybody is.

I can have live meetings, which is like Skype, only with the ability to connect to teams as well as individuals. And I can schedule meetings with individuals or teams without having to access Outlook. Plus I can see when someone’s meeting finishes.

With a ringing phone, I often can’t stray much further than the reception area. If I need an answer from somebody quickly, Communicator is the key. It’s much easier and quicker than firing off an email and waiting for a response, and less involved than picking up the phone.

Posted by: Shannon Williams, Receptionist | 09 June 2009

Tags: OCS, Office Communicator

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