Are you tired of dealing with your outdated business phone system? Does it seem like everyone else has advanced features and integrated conference calling? There are almost 4 million remote workers, but how do you stay in touch with a distributed team?
There are so many choices for office phone systems out there that it can seem overwhelming. Do you want a landline or a VoIP phone system? Which tools do you need? Should you invest in a cloud-based business telephone network?
If you're considering updating your phone system, this article is for you. We'll walk you through a few options and give you some tips on getting started with a new system.
Type of Connection:
The first decision that you need to make is whether to keep your landline or go with a newer VoIP system. The term "VoIP" stands for voice over Internet Protocol and refers to a phone system that uses the internet instead of the traditional hardwired phone lines.
VoIP technology has been around for a few years and is generally considered reliable. You need to have a rock solid internet connection, but you can access your phone network from anywhere in the world. If you travel a lot for business or have a remote team, you might want to switch to a VoIP system.
Another positive feature of VoIP phone systems is that they're much less expensive than hardwired systems. There's no maintenance required, and you can use your own phone or tablet to fax, host conference calls, and send emails directly to voicemail.
What kind of budget are you looking at for your new phone system? Again, VoIP systems don't require you to invest in new equipment. You can use your existing phone, tablet, or laptop to access your phone system. It sounds kind of futuristic, but VoIP is becoming the standard for businesses around the world.
If you were to get a hardwired system, you would have to pay for installation, upkeep, and the monthly cost of connection. With a VoIP system, you'd have lower upfront costs and a monthly fee per user.
When you use the VoIP technology, you don't have the cost of new phones hanging over your head. Your remote team can access the same technology that you can, and updates are as simple as downloading an update.
Once you've decided whether to go with a landline or one of the top VoIP providers, you'll need to take stock of your business's needs for calling features. Small office phone systems might not need to include conference calling options: it depends on what kind of business you're running.
Corporate phone systems typically include several features: online faxing, video and conference calls, and email to voicemail messaging. You should also pick a business telephone network that allows you to audit calls, send messages to a group of employees, and generate a dial-by-name directory.
No matter the size of your business, you might want to consider outsourcing your call answering services. Virtual phone answering is a great option for businesses that need to take calls 24/7. The answering service can provide information to basic questions, route calls to voicemail, and deliver bulk messages to you via email.
Virtual systems also allow you to keep and record all of your calls. That data is stored offsite in a secure location. If you work with sensitive information and frequently need to review calls, having a virtual VoIP network is ideal.
Options for Remote Workers:
If you've got a lot of remote workers, a VoIP system might be the best solution. Your employees can work from their own smartphones at any time of day, from any location. Customer service, accounting, and transcription companies often allow their contractors to work outside of normal business hours.
When you have a distributed team, it can be difficult to communicate with everyone. You've got team members in different time zones, working completely different hours. So how do you get everyone talking to one another?
Having a reliable office phone system is the first step toward virtual teamwork. You can get everyone onto a conference call and encourage your employees to phone or text one another. Texting isn't a feature that you're going to find on a traditional landline phone.
How To Get Started with a New Office Phone System:
Once you've taken stock of your business's needs, you should perform an internet search for phone companies. If you're going with a hardwired phone system option, then you'll need to stick with local companies. But if you're going virtual, you can contract with a company located anywhere in the world.
Talk to your employees and have them generate a list of features that they'd like to have. Do they like call waiting, for example, or does it interrupt the calls that they're trying to pay attention to?
Make sure that the company you choose allows unlimited conference calling. As you grow, you'll need an office phone system that can scale along with you. You don't want to be stuck in a contract that doesn't meet your business's needs.
Take your time when you're deciding on a new phone system, and consider using new VoIP technology. Embracing new technology can be a bit challenging, but you might find that it's exactly what you're looking for.
The Future of Remote Work:
Four million remote workers may not seem like a large number. It's only about 3% of all the workers in the United States. But remote work -- and virtual, app-based telephone service -- is absolutely the wave of the future.
If you're considering giving up your brick-and-mortar office location and working from home, have a meeting with your employees before you make your final decision. Develop a communication plan and work with your VoIP company to make sure you've got all the features you're going to need.
Remote work may seem like an experiment, but it's a successful one so far. We've got a ton of articles about new business and technology, and we believe that VoIP is the way to go in this new, remote economy.