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Remote Office Phone Systems: Features, Costs, and Benefits

It’s no question businesses today rely on communications technology more than ever before. Companies that quickly adapt to shifts in the market tend to outperform above those that don’t.

One of the ways they can do this is to adopt a remote office phone system so their teams can communicate from anywhere.

The fact is many employees simply don’t need to work within an office building to be productive. Spending all day in the office doesn’t sound appealing to most people. It’s enough to make many of us rethink our career paths and goals.

Remote work has completely changed the game for today’s workforce.

Our recent survey into business communications reveals that today’s employees use three devices, including their mobile device to communicate with their teams every day.

Statistic: 59% of professionals use at least three devices at work.

The freedom to complete tasks independently can be a powerful motivator. Working remotely has been shown to boost morale, creativity, and innovation.

The not-so-secret tool to connect your team is to upgrade to an office phone system with extensive remote functionality and exceptional call quality.

Let’s dig into the notable features, costs, and compelling benefits you can expect from your phone system.

Must-Have Features of a Remote Phone System

Unified communication is just as relevant to a small business owner as it is an established enterprise. What does that mean, exactly?

Companies use unified communication to let employees interact using one platform for phone service, team messaging, conference calling, and screen sharing. It helps you break down barriers between users and their communication tools.

Remote work tools and strategies play a significant role in achieving greater flexibility in the workplace. With the increased expansion of VoIP services, digital work, telecommuting is even more accessible.

VoIP phone systems provide users with functionality that was once reserved for advanced call centers. These features are now standard for most modern office phone systems.

  • Call routing – Location doesn’t matter thanks to VoIP’s built-in Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). When it comes to web-hosted call routing, what matters is who’s available.
  • Auto attendant – Third-party VoIP phone systems make calls more efficient and professional with an auto attendant. A virtual assistant greets callers with a menu and routes them to an extension or a local number.
  • Caller ID – Nothing about working off-site should involve a guessing game. Caller ID lets remote agents see who’s calling even when they’re away from their business telephone.
  • Call forwarding – If an agent receives an incoming call and they are away from their business phone, they can receive calls on their cell phone. This feature and call transfer make the transition quick and seamless.
  • Call queuing – Automatic call queuing puts callers on hold when your team is busy. In the event of high call volumes, this feature lowers the chances of callers hanging up. It’s a must if your telephone system receives a spike of calls.
  • Visual voicemail – Standard voicemail systems are helpful and straightforward. However, managing voicemails is inefficient. A remote office phone system lets your team listen to voicemail messages on their computers, play them back using a mobile app, and tend to them quickly.
  • Voicemail to email – What’s more efficient than voicemail? A system that automatically transcribes your voicemail and delivers it to your inbox. This capability saves your team time in listening to voicemail messages and improves your response times. Just like an email, they can be forwarded, too.
  • Voicemail forwarding – Sometimes it’s the little things that boost concentration in a big way. Consider a typical scenario—a team member receives a call but can’t answer immediately. Use this feature to forward a message to a teammate so you can focus on your project.
  • Advanced call management – Your employees might not all be under the same roof, but you can still manage even more effectively. With VoIP, you gain access to more powerful calling features like N-Way calling, conference bridges, and simultaneous ring. All of them can be customized to suit the needs of your office.
  • Call analytics – Cloud-based office systems are ideal for aggregating incredible amounts of data. When are your peak call times? Where do calls originate? Tracking the individual and team performance helps you serve your customers better. Call analytics provide objective reports in an easy-to-read dashboard. You can even display metrics and KPIs with your team.
  • Call recording – Implement automatic and on-demand call recording to coach your sales and support teams. Business leaders appreciate the increased accountability. Since phone calls are recorded in the cloud, you never need any extra equipment or wires.
  • Mobile App – Move beyond the typical office environment by providing your staff with a full-featured mobile app. For a remote team, they never miss a beat with an iPhone or Android app that’s connected to the same business phone system.
Benefits of Working Remotely in 2020 (Chart)

Remote access means flexibility, and flexibility is the key to top-notch customer service. After all, there are as many customers’ needs as there are customers. And the more resources you have, the better equipped your staff will be to meet those needs.

How Much Does a Remote Phone System Cost?

It’s a fair question—what will you spend on a virtual phone system?

The price varies, but it’s almost always less expensive than a landline setup. There are a few reasons why.

First, you’re not tied to expensive hardware. Hardware-free computer applications, called softphones, are your best option for remote phones. Replacing desk phones helps businesses realize significant savings. Your remote employees can download a softphone app on Android and Apple phones, as well as a desktop program for Mac and Windows computers.

Second, it’s feature-packed. A remote phone system provides many more phone features than a traditional phone line. Since most of these features are typically included for one flat rate, you don’t get hit with surprise fees.

Third, it’s much faster to scale to the needs of your office. You won’t need to install extra phone lines and wiring to traditional PBX systems. Adding more VoIP lines is a few clicks away.

Finally, you can save even more with an annual agreement. For example, long-term users secure the best rates on our phone plans.

Pricing for a remote office phone system - Nextiva's Pro Plan

When it comes to cost, a VoIP-powered office phone system is your best investment. But what about the benefits? How does it compare to a traditional phone system?

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What Are the Benefits of a Remote Phone System?

1. Staying Connected with Clients & Co-Workers

When you’re away from the office, it’s almost as if you took a sick day. When you’re not seen, it’s difficult for your team and customers to reach you. A remote phone system lets your team stay online and accessible wherever they work.

For even greater connectivity, a cloud phone system contains a managed directory and address book, so staying in touch hasn’t been easier.

2. Everyone Shares One Office Phone System

When working from home, it can be troublesome to communicate with the rest of the team. With a remote office phone system designed to support remote employees, you won’t have this problem.

When time and money are on the line, you don’t want to track down personal cell phones. With one VoIP phone system, call forwarding keeps your team connected in and out of the office.

Virtual PBX systems also provide local and toll-free numbers. PBX systems let employees stay accessible by using their office extensions.

3. On-The-Go Availability

Working from home is very different from working in an office setting. Remote workers often have more control over their schedules, especially if they travel.

The prevailing benefit here is that an office phone system never sacrifices features if employees are away from the office. With a reliable business phone app, employees can access their phone line from any computer or smartphone. All that’s needed is an internet connection — it can work adequately even over Wi-Fi.

Remote employees shouldn’t have to risk missing important phone calls while they’re on the go. Mobility strengthens your business by ensuring that agents are reliable on every device.

4. Voice & Video Conferencing

Communication is the core of every successful team. From the Fortune 500 to the Navy SEALS. Establishing a regular cadence and trust in team communication is what makes them successful.

You can’t leave conversations up to interpretation. Speaking to your team live through the power of video and delivering a presentation live is invaluable. It allows for quick clarifications and the expression of tone and nuance. It even strengthens your remote team overall.

If you find that members of your office jump between different apps to talk, it’s ripe for a communications crisis. To stay focused, limit the number of moves it takes to complete simple tasks such as when chatting with your team.

A remote office phone system provides unified communications that make it easy to switch between voice, video, chat, email. No matter the situation, your team is covered.

Look for video capabilities that offer one-to-one video chats as well as screen sharing. These functions supplement the day-to-day routines shared by managers and their reports. Personal apps like Skype or Google Hangouts don’t cut it for business.

At the end of the day, you don’t want uncertainty. Video conferences are ideal for presentations, sales pitches, or product demos.

5. Staying Organized & Focused

Did you know that a cloud phone system helps maintain a productive working environment? It’s the unsung hero of the office. With a remote team, your phone system needs to be there to help them stay organized and productive.

With an always updated company directory, employees can find each other and strike up a conversation. This saves time in solving customer questions and invites more direct communication.

Likewise, when it’s time for deep focus, your phone system manages your online presence to tell others you’re in a meeting, away, or simply offline.

Either way, you want a phone system that’s easy to use and is widely adopted from day one.

6. Fine-Grained User Permissions

How do you protect your company’s phone system from internal error or abuse? With a zero-trust model, you can assign permissions to select VoIP features on an as-needed basis.

User and location-specific permissions provide organizations control over who manages system settings. These security settings let you maintain access to communication features without placing your business continuity at risk.

IT leaders can breathe a little easier knowing their phone system is hosted in the cloud, making it resilient to natural disasters and even sabotage.

7. Phone System Security

It’s crucial to understand how VoIP providers control and maintain all the security protocols of your phone system. This concept means your company doesn’t need to maintain the security infrastructure.

Since your phone system uses VoIP, that means it also uses SIP to establish each phone call and message. Much like how websites secure all traffic between the user and server, your phone system can offer the same functionality.

A powerful remote office phone system lets you activate enhanced call security between users. It results in no extra latency, and you can rest assured that others cannot eavesdrop on the conversation. Call encryption is possible because of Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP).

Reach out to your VoIP provider to confirm their security settings for your company.

8. Protecting Personal Privacy

Even on-site staff communicates with clients and colleagues outside of the office. When this happens, they often use personal contact information for a business call.

Unfortunately, this also invites unwanted contact over a communication channel your company doesn’t manage. People are quite protective when it comes to their personal mobile phone number.

From a business standpoint, these situations can significantly damage credibility. Reaching a client via a personal cell phone or home phone number is unprofessional.

A cloud-based VoIP system separates business phone numbers and personal numbers.

Accessing your email from a home or personal computer is simple enough. Why shouldn’t your business phone system be just as flexible? It’s best if all of your business communications are logged and documented for later reference.

Related: Pros & Cons of Working From Home vs. Working in an Office

The Future of the Remote Office Phone System

As employees become location-agnostic, so will a company’s phone system. Business leaders will see the proven benefits of a cloud-based phone system.

Companies have already realized the benefits of the cloud. Millions of businesses send and receive email using Google and Office 365, saving them from maintaining costly servers.

Moving to a remote office phone system is the next big move.

Businesses will continue to evolve their technologies and platforms to support their employees. Upwork projects that by 2028 nearly three-fourths of employers will have a remote team.

One example of this dramatic change is the fax machine. Once considered a staple of the typical office is now quite rare. Today, you can send and receive faxes using an online faxing service just like email. Online faxing saves businesses from bulky hardware, toner, and improves internal workflow.

Maintaining versatility in your telecommunications helps businesses prepare for unforeseen circumstances. Moving your phone system to the cloud will help your organization innovate and withstand any changes in the market.

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