7 Methods to future-proof your business VoIP for hybrid work
For a distributed workforce, many traditional business communication methods no longer apply. These top tips make the most of the new reality of remote working.
The way we work is changing radically. As Covid-19 restrictions ease, some workers prepare to return to the office, while others are leaning into roles that permit them to work from home permanently. Likewise, the pandemic has prompted many companies to consider reducing their real estate spending and adopting hybrid businesses.
But these choices come with spillover effects. One is that the remote workforce is dramatically changing how we interact with colleagues, clients, contractors, and business partners- This means the parameters you want to consider when choosing a VoIP phone system have also changed.
Switching to cloud computing has created new choices that weren’t possible earlier. That’s why it’s a great time to reevaluate your business communication needs. Whether in the market for a new VoIP system or planning ahead, ensure you do your due diligence by completing each task.
1. Understand how your organization communicates
Your employees are expected to make and receive calls. But to what extent? What other communication channels do they use? Answers vary depending on the role of each worker. Your sales staff will have very different communication styles than support representatives; for example, the call center will have more complex needs.
Additional tools such as call forwarding, automatic call reception, virtual receptionists, and call transcription play an essential role in some business workflows. Despite the name, some modern VoIP systems are limited to voice. For example, you can assume they will bundle video and text chat support. Some workers may never use these features, while others will be eager to get them. Take the time required to know not only your workers’ needs but also their wish lists.
2. Don’t compromise on consumer products
After the pandemic restrictions were implemented, many of us turned to consumer video conferencing services like Skype, WebEx, and Zoom for personal and business use. Similarly, many residential data providers offer VoIP as a three-in-one package with their TV and Internet offerings, and many third-party consumer VoIP services are available.
Free clients of these popular services limit usage in various ways that can hinder your workforce’s productivity. Moreover, business VoIP systems deliver back-end features like auditing and call recording, that is more valuable.
3. Understand the reality of today’s networks
Streaming media, including VoIP calls, are more sensitive to poor network conditions than activities such as web browsing. The reality of VoIP for remote workers is that almost all calls must traverse the public Internet.
Today, you must assume that each worker’s network situation will be unique to them. They may have purchased their router or used a device provided by their Internet provider. Consider supporting your workers’ home broadband with a company-approved service level for increased consistency.
4. Be serious about the security
Any traffic that crosses the public Internet can be intercepted or tampered with by malicious actors, and VoIP traffic is no different. Many websites use encrypted protocols; Similarly, you must search for a VoIP system that employs automatic end-to-end encryption. While attackers can still intercept your calls, encryption means they are less likely to be able to “spoof” a call by pretending to be someone they are not.
For improved security, you may consider ordering a VPN for VoIP calls. However, not all VPNs are VoIP aware and may require some tweaks to deliver the desired call quality. One last thing to consider here: If either party to the call uses a traditional landline or mobile operator rather than a VoIP client, you have no control over the security of that line. Personal phone use for business calls should be restricted if this concerns you.
5. Cloud weight versus local options
The earliest VoIP systems are modeled after traditional PBX systems. The software is run in your data center and managed centrally by your IT team. These systems may have higher costs, but there are good reasons to prefer this model- This means you have complete control over your VoIP system and can manage expansion and service upgrades based on your business needs. However, the local model begins to break down with many remote employees.
Recently, VoIP providers have increasingly switched to a service model, where the entire system is managed in the cloud- This can have many benefits. The vendor does almost all the hard work to ensure reliability and connection quality. Moreover, technology and feature updates are rolled out more regularly and efficiently, and cloud-based systems often provide lower costs per call. Remember that, although the initial price will be lower than that of an on-premises system, the monthly rate per user means the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the system’s lifetime will be higher.
6. Make the mobile phone a first-class citizen
Almost every modern worker spends part of the day on a mobile phone, especially when they’re not checking in at a central office. The first generation of softphone applications ran on desktop computers and laptops, and computers were used to emulate all the operations of a desktop VoIP phone. Most commercial VoIP systems offer mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. Some offer the same capabilities as desktop digital phones, while others only provide a subset. During the research phase, you should try to gauge how important these characteristics are to different sectors of your workforce.
7. Organize your communications
When choosing a business communications system, thinking beyond traditional VoIP is essential. Employees do not just make voice calls. Video conferencing, text messaging, and social media are part of the mix. Efforts by VoIP providers to integrate these features into their platforms have led to the emergence of a broader category known as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).
A trustworthy UCaaS platform takes multichannel communications further by integrating core VoIP functionality with other software that powers your business.
Get the most out of remote work.
If recent years have taught us anything, managing the majority of the workforce remotely is not only possible but profitable. Software companies, including VoIP providers, have stepped up to meet the needs of the modern distributed workforce. As a result, SMEs, in particular, can reach more employee candidates than ever.
At the same time, the shift to a hybrid business means that business communication requirements have also changed. Take this moment to think about how your current phone system will serve you and what you want in the future. The business landscape of VoIP and UCaaS is still evolving; find a solution that can grow with your business.