Work from home tips for teams: Virtual phone for a virtual office

If you’re considering how you could make a distributed workplace more effective, start with a virtual phone number. Here are 5 big reasons why a virtual phone line is fundamental to team productivity…

Over the last few months, many businesses have transitioned from a permanent office to a temporarily distributed workspace. But listening to employee feedback, returning back to the way things were might not be ideal. We’ve heard things like, “At least I’m saving 3 hours a week on my commute…” or “If only the kids were back in school, this might actually be a better way to work.”

This article is to help you consider all the possibilities of making your distributed office more permanent. What would happen if you leaned into the change? What would you need to do to set a foundation for effective communication over the long term?

First off we need to give kudos to the wonderful world of cloud and web applications we find ourselves living in. These make it possible for employees to communicate virtually on their own devices during this interim phase. Combining email, call forwarding, Skype, Zoom, mobile, WhatsApp, and Slack (or apps like these) allowed many businesses to have decent team communication “without too much effort.” 

At the same time, without a virtual phone to connect them in one unified business network, these apps can also cause confusion, waste, security issues, and lack of productivity. They’re a great stopgap measure, but if you want a permanent solution, every virtual office needs a virtual phone. 

What is a Virtual Phone Number?

Back in the day every phone number was tied geographically to communicate from a specific area (the green boxes in your neighborhood) to the phone company. But mobile devices challenged that infrastructure long ago. But we keep moving further and further into purely digital communications. Geography, especially in-country, Your office might still have an on-site PBX that takes and routes calls. 

Virtual phone number removes geographic limitations, so you can route calls to/from anywhere. It is also a digital native. This allows businesses to manage numbers and extensions from a cloud portal, which is accessible anywhere with Internet. You can see the uses when there is no work office to go to. But it also means that communications gain all the flexibility of software, opening an incredible assortment of communications tools for your teams.

1. Teams are more productive with one consistent collaborative toolset

Cloud apps are nice on a person-to-person basis. But they lose security and cohesiveness as groups increase in size. Think about how important it is for everyone to have the same email address. This allows employees to gain immediate trust with each other versus external addresses. Which fuels productivity and cohesion. Meanwhile, employees only need to learn one email toolset to be productive. We take these things for granted with email, but the same principles apply to any form of communication.  

Using disparate services can accomplish the necessities, but it often causes confusion behind the scenes, as employees discuss which tool to use, and need to learn and relearn how to do the same things. What’s more, collaborative tools like web conferencing, screen sharing, recording features, etc. are more complicated than email. In fact most organizations do not get the most from VoIP Collaborative Tools. But having one toolset tied to a virtual phone network increases trust, communication, and productivity.

2. Easy to extend virtual network to mobile phones

One of the most significant differences from your typical office phone is that virtual phones can extend the network so that anyone can tap in, regardless of location or device. You might already know this, but many do not. Extend your virtual phone to any mobile device, so that employees can send and receive business calls direct to their mobile. 

Read more about how to structure office communications on mobile >

3. Automated incoming call routing with automated attendant

This one might sound like a perk, but companies that take significant call volumes can save an incredible amount of time while delivering superior customer service with this one virtual feature. Automated attendants answer the phone immediately and present a menu for incoming callers, so the call is directed to the appropriate department. 

Of course, we have all had poor experiences with auto attendants as well. It is well worth the effort to set up this service so that your callers quickly find the service they are looking for. Many SMBs do not find it challenging to set-up a system that helps them and their customers.

One advantage that adds simplicity for the customer is practically limitless extensions. You can set up a unique extension for each sales page of your website, so that the appropriate department or professional receives the call, completely bypassing the auto attendant altogether. Web visitors hit a button, which sends them immediately to sales, and the service automatically dials the first available agent. We walk our customers through these features all the time. 

4. Virtual phone connects to IT to automate menial work

Because virtual phone numbers are managed in the cloud, they benefit from the latest technology — without the need to manage, maintain, or upgrade software. And once the phone is virtual, it can easily connect with a wide assortment of tools. These might be everything from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to management and analytics tools that come standard with your virtual phone system. 

A few of the most common capabilities include:

  • Macro analytics on the fly: Know how many calls came in, how long they take, who received them, etc. Pair this with advertising campaigns, discounts, and events. 
  • Integrate caller ID with databases to access contextual information for each caller, bringing this information to the attention of your customer service representative so that the caller doesn’t need to “explain themselves” 5 times to get their case resolved.

Better customer experience with large potential to improve

By now we hope you have a sense of how virtual phones allow you to benefit your organization in terms of efficiency, while also benefiting the service your customers receive. But the future is even more exciting. The capabilities described here are the low-hanging fruit now, but new features are developed every month that drive further benefits for virtual phone-driven businesses. 

The recent migration to virtual offices has occurred due to temporary circumstances, but due to the many benefits of virtual phones, we suspect (and hope) that many companies will embrace the change. 

Convinced yet? If you have any questions about migrating to a virtual phone system please give us a call!

Bob Conway

Convergence Solutions was incredibly helpful to me when I joined my firm. Convergence had long managed our Telecomm PBX and handset equipment so I turned to them to help our full office renovations. Once our immediate phone relocation and wiring needs were handled promptly and professionally by the Convergence team, I found we were using a variety of unrelated vendors to manage our voice, conference call, IP Phones, and internet services. It was clear there was a lot to improve upon in terms of service, price and quality with this confederacy of dunces, so I stopped to talk with Steve Solton about our overall communications infrastructure.  After a brief discussion, it was apparent Convergence were experts on more than just the PBX in my back room, they began to identify our network server and port issues, suggested solid state industry enhancements, AV Conferencing solutions and  much more.  We are implementing many of these ‘Convergence’ solutions presently, none of which are minor, but all which are being expertly handled.

Bob Conway
Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell

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