Most traditional business communication practices do not apply to a distributed workforce. Our working methods are changing drastically. Many workers have been preparing for their return to the office as COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened while others have been leaning toward roles that enable them to work permanently from home. Additionally, many companies are considering reducing their real estate expenses and switching to hybrid work as a result of the pandemic.
But these decisions have consequences. We must adjust our communication methods with coworkers, customers, contractors, and business partners with a mostly remote workforce. As a result, the parameters to consider when choosing a VoIP system for businesses have also changed.
Use these tips to get the most out of the new remote work environment.
Understand How Your Organization Communicates
You expect your staff to both place and receive calls. But in what proportion? And what other communications channels do they use? The answers will vary depending on each worker’s role. Your sales staff’s calling patterns will significantly differ from those of your support reps, for example, and a full call center will have even more complex needs.
Don’t Compromise With Consumer Products
Shortly after pandemic restrictions came into full force, many of us turned to consumer video conferencing services, such as Apple FaceTime, Skype, WebEx, and Zoom, for personal and professional use. Similarly, many residential data providers offer VoIP service as a three-in-one bundle with their TV and internet offerings, in addition to the numerous third-party consumer VoIP services that are available.
Recognize the Reality of Today’s Network(s)
Streaming media, including VoIP calls, are more vulnerable to poor network conditions than activities like web browsing. That has always made maintaining call quality a challenge, even when many calls never leave a LAN. Anyone on your network who was streaming video or downloading massive files could unknowingly turn a VoIP call into a game of tin-can telephone. Unfortunately, the reality of VoIP for a remote workforce is that virtually all calls will need to traverse the public internet, which is networking’s equivalent of the Wild West.
Get Serious About Security
Any traffic that traverses the public internet can potentially be intercepted or tampered with by malicious actors, and VoIP traffic is no different. Most websites today use encrypted protocols; similarly, you should look for a VoIP system that uses automatic end-to-end encryption. While attackers will still be able to disrupt your calls, the encryption means they’d be unlikely to be able to listen in or “spoof” calls, pretending to be someone they’re not.
Weigh Cloud vs. On-Premises Options
The earliest VoIP systems were modeled after traditional PBX systems. The software ran in your own data center and was centrally managed by your IT staff. These systems can have high up-front costs, but there are good reasons to prefer this model. It means you have total control over your VoIP system, and can manage expansion and service upgrades based solely on your business needs. However, the on-premises model starts to break down with a large number of remote employees.
Make Mobile a First-Class Citizen
Virtually every modern worker spends some part of the day on a mobile phone, especially when they aren’t checking in to a central office. Unfortunately, employees lose many VoIP system advantages when they use stock mobile devices for business calls, such as call logging and easy call transfers.
Unify Your Communications
When choosing a business communications system, it’s important to think beyond traditional VoIP. As we mentioned earlier, today’s workers don’t just do voice calling, and neither do customers. Text messaging, video conferencing, and even social media are all part of the mix. VoIP providers’ efforts to integrate these features into their platforms have given rise to a broader category known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
Working remotely to your advantage
It’s been proven over the past several years that managing a majority remote workforce is not only possible, but advantageous. Modern companies have developed software solutions that address the needs of distributed, modern workers. Due to this trend, small to midsized businesses have gained access to a much broader range of employee candidates than they ever could before.
In addition to the shift to hybrid work, the demands of business communication are also shifting. Considering your current phone system and what you will need going forward can be beneficial. If you ask the right questions, you can find a solution that can grow with your business in the field of business VoIP and UCaaS.
Check out our extended coverage of remote working to learn how businesses and employees can succeed in the new era of working remotely.