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  • Skype for Business: Your one-stop for convenient communication

    As Monsoon Season and summer highs welcome us with open arms, you may be trying to find ways to stay out of the heat and sporadic downpour while juggling the various meetings, conferences and collaborations you have scheduled during your workweek. 

    Skype for Business, a service now available to Pima County employees, could be your solution.skype

    Skype for Business is a user-friendly, one-stop communications tool that allows employees to connect via instant messaging, audio, video and email through a single interface. It can be used on any compatible device at any location with an internet connection. Skype for Business is also fully integrated into Microsoft Office 2016 or Office 365. 

    You can access and communicate with your contacts through Skype and can utilize Skype features directly from Outlook, allowing for a seamless transition between these tools.  

    Why use Skype for Business? 

    Oftentimes, meetings end up a time-consuming necessity of collaborative work that leave you drained, bored or thinking: “Wow, that could have been wrapped up in an email.” 

    Audio/Video conferencing via Skype for Business could be a viable alternative to in-person meetings. Schedule meetings and send invites with the Skype desktop app or directly on Outlook by clicking “New Skype Meeting.” 

    Participants can easily join meetings over computer, phone or other compatible device with a single click via Skype, Outlook’s calendar event/meeting reminder or the dial-in number automatically created in the meeting invite. business

    The Skype for Business audio/video conferencing service offers a host of features that allows for a convenient, interactive and customizable experience of both the presenter and the participant. Here are some things you can do: 
    • Record meetings and archive them for later use
    • Copy attendees into OneNote and add tasks or comments
    • Draft, edit and brainstorm together using the Whiteboard feature
    • Share desktop screens, Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations and other content with participants. You can even view presentations on mobile devices 
    • Broadcast webinars
    • Conduct private or public polls, which can help provide input and encourage efficient decision-making
    • Control your meetings, e.g. mute all or individual attendees, allow participants to be presenters, block any person’s video, and hide or show participant information
    Utilizing audio/video conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings has many benefits. Here’s a few examples:
    • Saves time and money and reduces non-essential business travel
    • Optimizes attendance because participants only need compatible devices and internet connections to participate 
    • Increases efficiency and productivity by allowing organizers and presenters more control over the meeting for more structured and efficient meeting experiences
    • Provides the ability to learn and teach online to larger audiences through virtual training sessions, lectures or webinars 
    Humanizes conversations that would have otherwise been conducted over the phone
    Protects people and the planet. Pima County’s transportation sector accounts for approximately one-third of our total greenhouse gas emissions. GHGs have been linked to poorer air quality, hotter and drier weather in our region, increases in asthma and infectious disease, and other deleterious effects of climate change. Mitigating how much we drive supports Pima County government’s long-standing commitment toward sustainable operations.

    Communicate with colleagues instantly

    Sending emails back and forth can be tedious and inefficient, especially for quick questions or information you need ASAP. The Instant Messaging (IM) feature allows for easy instant communication with those who are available. 

    Simply open Skype and type in a name or send an IM directly from Outlook. You can send messages and files or easily turn IM’ing into a video or audio call – all in one convenient location. 

    You can see who is available and on their computer or compatible device by looking at the icon next to their name. If it is green, they should be accessible. Alternatively, if they are currently away or in a meeting, you can easily found out when they will be available by hovering over or clicking their name. 

    While instant communication has many benefits, there will times when you may not want to be available to others. You can let people know now is not a good time by setting your icon to “Do Not Disturb.” 

    Again, because Skype for Business is integrated into Microsoft Office 2016 or Office 365, you can control your availability status on either tool and it will be automatically reflected on both platforms. 

    Show your desktop to others

    Have you ever had to help another employee over the phone? Perhaps you were asked a question that required you to provide step-by-step instructions on how to do something in say Word, Excel or maybe even ADP, AMS or Maximo. 

    Often times, without visuals, this process can be a tad frustrating for both parties. 
    The Present feature ends this problem by allowing you to share your screen with others so that they can watch what you do in real time.  

    For more information about Skype for Business check out this step-by-step video guide on how to access the tool’s basic features and functions. If you have specific questions about Skype for Business or would like to participate in a training, please contact Sharon Zaher at Sharon.Zaher@pima.gov (or send her an IM!).
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