How's your WFH Communications?

Rapid technological advancements in recent years have reshaped almost every aspect of day-to-day business life, yet some organisations are yet to take advantage of the ‘simple’ developments in office-based communication solutions, thereby potentially missing out on a host of financial and service related benefits.

Traditional office landline phone systems are increasingly considered as examples of yesterday’s technology, often tied into old style contracts and upfront connection charges, which makes it difficult to unlock real value for money. As has been demonstrated unequivocally over the past year’s lockdowns, organisations need communication solutions for them and their WFH employees that provide speed, flexibility, and scalability. Solutions like VoIP.

Most people at some point are likely to have heard the term ‘VoIP’ and whilst some will have already switched, many will have veered away from considering it on the basis that the subject matter is not in their technical comfort zone. The good news is, the concept and introduction of a VoIP system as a communication solution is far simpler than it may initially appear.

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (also termed internet telephony, IP telephony or broadband phone) is a means of making phone calls without the requirement for transmitting a call from a conventional hardwired desk phone through a network of analogue switches, copper wires and branch exchanges or a mobile network. Instead as the acronym alludes to, calls are made through the internet.

Very simplistically, a VoIP system works by:

  • taking the voice of those on a call (the audio signal) and packaging it up as digital data

  • transmitting this data via an internet connection like any other computer data

  • unpacking this data at the other end of the call

  • combining this with other packets of information and turning it back into audio signals

This digital process allows a VoIP system to be created simply through connecting a VoIP handset phone (looks and operates the same way as a conventional handset) in the office via an ethernet connection to a pc or routers ethernet port. From the user’s perspective, things will not really seem any different other than a range of significant benefits as highlighted below.

VoIP Fact:

54% of the leading voices in the IT arena believe that organisations require VoIP to advance. So it isn’t just VoIP service providers and telecommunication companies that are pushing VoIP systems.

VoIP System Benefits

For organisations requiring employees to WFH on a fulltime or hybrid basis, a VoIP system can provide a communication solution that has several key benefits compared to a traditional landline phone system. These include:

  • Cost Savings - Traditional landline phones usually have costly commitments requiring payment for hardware, software, maintenance, line rental for EACH phone line and call costs that are often price determined by geographics, with international calls typically charged at a premium. However, as a VoIP system converts audio calls into data and then transfers it via the internet and cloud, the cost is a predictable and competitive monthly fee based on a selected plan that suits the organisations size, structure and communication needs. The setup is simple, there are no separate line rentals and service maintenance is usually included in the VoIP provider’s monthly fee. In addition to this, international calls do not incur excess charges. A simple way of improving the organisations bottom line.

  • Mobility & Flexibility - With employees WFH on a full time or hybrid basis in 2021 and beyond, the need for communication mobility and flexibility has never been more crucial. A VoIP system provides greater mobility and flexibility for an organisation’s employees, enabling them to make and receive ‘office’ calls anywhere. With access to a secure internet connection, a softphone, a desk phone or even a mobile, employees can log in to their ‘office phone’ from any shared handset or workstation or they can use an app on their mobile device and make or receive calls as if they are in the office.

  • Improved Functionality - A move away from traditional telephony to VoIP system brings with it not just financial, mobility & flexibility benefits but also significantly improved user functionality key to the new WFH working environment. With a VoIP system, users can choose how their phone functions and from where. For example, employees can: - make calls via a VoIP handset (like a traditional handset) or a softphone on a laptop / pc - have calls diverted to their smartphone when they’re out of the home or main office - have calls forwarded to a colleague elsewhere or head office if they are unable to answer within a set number of rings - have missed calls diverted to voicemail for listening to later - receive by email a transcript to read of all voicemails - engage in group calls or teleconferencing - still take (and make) calls even when there is an internet outage as business calls can be set up remotely to be forwarded to the users mobile device - take advantage of call recordings, auto attendants and various other features This improved functionality helps with the perception of an organisation’s professional identity in the eyes of its clients, prospective clients and suppliers.

Suppliers of VoIP Systems

There are a whole range of other elements of a VoIP system that need consideration such as security, hosted or private VoIP systems, quality of service etc but all these should have straight forward solutions when engaging with a quality VoIP system provider.

The VoIP market is now very mature with numerous suppliers of VoIP systems offering a range of stand-alone telephony solutions as summarised above. In addition to this, because a VoIP system is delivered over the internet, it fits seamlessly into a cloud based Unified Communication platform.

It is very likely that over the past year, as the pandemic made workplace collaboration increasingly difficult, many organisations and employees will have taken advantage of VoIP solutions within a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams but would not necessarily have been aware of it. A subject for another article perhaps!

In summary, VoIP systems may benefit organisations in multiple ways, from improving employee collaboration and creating mobile-enabled environments, to personalising customer and supplier experiences, all whilst reducing costs. There is no one-size-fits-all VoIP solution and so an organisation needs to set clear goals as to what it wants from a system, establish a budget, engage with a quality supplier and choose a VoIP system plan that aligns with these needs.

It presents an option for organisation to break the shackles of traditional telephony by harnessing the power of the internet and eliminating the restrictions of outdated infrastructure.

The WFH Zone is the UK’s first online portal designed to assist organisations and individuals in the process of setting up to work from home (WFH) on a full time or hybrid basis, in the most cost effective and ethical way. Our service helps employers and employees find quality suppliers of a range of Services and Products specifically associated with a work from home zone.