How VoIP is impacting the remote workforce

If the 2010’s become known for anything, it may just be as the decade of the remote workforce. Even 10 years ago, remote workers were few and far between but as we march towards the close of Q1 2018, 63% of employers in the US have remote workers. Shortage of talent is a key driver of the modern-day flexible workplace, but emerging technologies have played a key role in making remote work even possible.

Wireless internet, public wi-fi, laptops, smartphones, mobile technology, cloud computing, internet messaging, video conferencing, and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) are all included in the bundle of technology that makes officing anywhere — at any time — a possibility.

These technologies are becoming ever more important, as talent is starting to seek out companies that offer remote and flexible work. A 2016 Gallup survey revealed that “flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.” And 90% of remote workers say that they plan to continue working remotely for the rest of their career. The challenge for companies then becomes how to set up their operations not only in order to be able to offer that opportunity, but also to be able to maintain team effectiveness.

How VoIP impacts employers’ ability to offer flexible work

Communication can be difficult enough for teams that all office together, but how do you hold everyone together when you rarely meet face-to-face? And how do you present a united front to customers or clients, while still maintaining a professional quality, across a team of remote workers?

The difference between traditional office phone services and VoIP seems straightforward on paper: VoIP provides the ability to make voice calls over broadband Internet versus an analog, or traditional, phone line.

Simple, right?

But VoIP opens up a whole world of flexibility and possibility just by virtue of being wired through the Internet.

  • Appear and operate like a large enterprise, even on a small company budget
  • Use an auto attendant to route calls to employees, no matter where they are or office from
  • Customize call activity reports and graphs. This is especially useful if you oversee a team of inside and/or outside salespeople who operate remotely
  • Listen live — again, especially useful for sales managers
  • Send faxes and voicemails to email that will reach employees anywhere they happen to be
  • Unify teams, including freelancers, with easy conference calling
  • Set up vanity numbers and use call forwarding so that remote workers don’t have to give out their personal phone numbers
  • Ensure voice quality

What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP may sound highly complicated, but the principles behind VoIP are rather simple. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. According to the FCC, Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.

In the fast-paced world of a hosted VoIP service, business phones are linked from all around the world through high-speed Internet connections. Every phone in an office shares one link. A VoIP service can be applied to several phones and devices within one building, or across a franchise with many locations, making it versatile no matter what industry it’s serving.

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Image source: http://www.pcsvoip.com/about.php

There are many benefits to utilizing a VoIP system for your company. A full VoIP system can drastically reduce costs when compared to a similar analog phone system. VoIP also lays the groundwork for increased productivity company-wide, improving the ease and speed of both internal and external connections. Likewise, VoIP has the unique ability to provide remote connection to an established network. This means that remote employees (or traveling associates) can stay connected no matter where they are, displayed as a seamless communication service to clients and customers along the way.

Installation of a VoIP system doesn’t require any special equipment beyond a high speed broadband connection. VoIP connections can be used over computer systems through an inexpensive microphone, making it a cost-effective alternative to traditional office phones. Whether you are considering the switch from an analog system, or interested in improving your company’s communication connection to the world, VoIP is a great solution.

Trends

 

The VoIP industry has revolutionized so much with each passing year, that it is difficult to anticipate what the future will bring. As an organization looking to invest and adapt to a VoIP system, it is important to know what the future may bring.

Due to lower costs and less maintenance needed with a hosted VoIP service, more organizations are favoring this type of service. It is a good choice for businesses that are looking to transition from traditional business lines to IP enabled technology. Cloud services has always been favored by small to medium sized business, but even larger organizations will start using cloud

price-trend-graph

PBX systems as vendors scale up their infrastructure to match the growing demand. With the increasing level of customized features available, having a cloud PBX makes more sense for everyone.

Many organizations are moving towards SaaS services for various internal departments-whether it be accounting, CRM’s or contact centers. As VoIP continues to mature, integrations like this will quickly become essential providing a Unified Communication (UC) system. UC systems bring together various channels such as video, audio, IM, and more. VoIP systems are often used as the foundation on which further applications can be integrated with.

Today’s IP networks use mechanisms to deal with the time-sensitive nature of voice packets and also provide many advantages that are not possible with the traditional PSTN. Although the traditional PSTN has been a standard for decades, it has recently been surpassed by the quality and reliability of today’s VoIP networks, making VoIP the preferred choice when it comes to choosing a business telephone solution.

Understanding and Preventing Ghost Calls

Many people do not understand what a ghost call is and why they occur. A ghost call, which is also sometimes referred to as “phantom ringing” is an incoming phone call with no one on the other end, usually from a random number, and occurs frequently. They usually occur from neglected auto dialers from telemarketers, or hackers looking for a way to exploit your network. The majority of these calls occur during odd hours of the night when users in other countries are awake. A lot of times, clients believe this to be the fault of their service provider, in most cases, it is not. The good news is that these calls can be prevented by following a couple of basic steps.

Update Firmware:

Make sure your firmware is kept up to date. Some service providers do this automatically when pushing updates, but it is best to double-check. It can also be done manually from some older phone models. It is best to check with your phone manufacturer, for instructions as every phone make and model vary.

Use a Firewall:

A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. It can be either hardware or software based. Some routers allow you to block port scans in their settings page. Investing in the proper equipment will virtually eliminate these calls from occurring.

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Change Local SIP Port:

By default, the SIP Port is usually set to 5060. By changing it to something between 5060-5070, for example, the port scanners will skip you. Although this is not considered a permanent solution, it will slow down any port scanners. When doing this, you will need to get your VoIP company and internet service provider involved as some ISP providers do not support VoIP traffic on different ports.

cute-ghostBy having the proper protection, whether it be hardware or software related, you can make sure your business is not affected by these annoying and sometimes costly ghost calls. Reach out to your service provider if you have experienced these types of calls for support and guidance.