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The best phone systems for remote workers

With constant technological innovations, societal changes, and new ways of thinking about working and balancing professional commitments with our personal lives, there can be no denying that the way we work is changing. One of the biggest changes we’re seeing is more and more employers learning to embrace flexible working as it becomes clear that remote working really does work.

Still, making the switch to remote work brings its own special requirements. We all know how vital collaboration is for business success, which is part of why remote workers need to pay special attention to ensuring their communication is really, really strong.

That’s why you want to make sure that you’re choosing the best possible phone system to enable you to work from anywhere without compromising the communication channels with your colleagues and customers.

A lot of remote workers have a very flexible and varied professional life, and need to have lots of active channels of communication easily available at once. You might be working for several different departments or projects, or even different companies, and you need to make sure that both your clients and your bosses and co-workers can get in touch with you at a moment’s notice.

What are your options?

When it comes to picking out your phone system, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re educated about what exactly you’re choosing between.

PBX

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and it’s a system which allows calls to reach lots of different destinations – for example, an IVR or call hunt groups or queues for different departments. A PBX system also lets users set time of day routing, to go to voicemail, deliver to other phone numbers (like your mobile phone). Basically, a PBX will coordinate both your inbound and outbound calls, making it easier to transfer calls and manage voicemails on different extensions.

You can have a PBX as actual hardware, like a wall-mounted box that each phone line plugs into. For some companies, this works really well, and usually entails an individual in the company controlling everything. But nowadays, it tends to be more common and convenient to use a hosted PBX which you can access and programme from a web interface. This means that, depending on the system you choose, all the members of staff might be able to log in anc change call routing and CLI on the fly.

VoIP

This stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Here there are also hosted options, which are cloud-based, and non-hosted versions.

Hosted VoIP phone systems have their infrastructure based in the cloud rather than in your building. Your chosen service provider owne, manages and maintains the infrastructure in a secure data centre, so from your point of view this is a really convenient and low-maintenance option.

Different services to choose from

As happens often these days, the amount of choices available in the market is almost overwhelming. That’s why we’ve done some of the work for you, and researched some of the best phone systems out there for remote workers. Below you’ll find some of our top choices, with a brief outline of how they work to see which is best suited to your needs.

8×8

You don’t need to take our word for it that 8×8 knows what its doing; they’ve won a bundle of high profile awards, like the Tolly award for Superior Voice Quality. Plus, if it’s good enough for high-profile clients like McDonald’s and NetSuite, it might well be good enough for you!

They offer lots of really useful features over desktop and mobile apps, from video, SMS, chat and web conferencing options for your communication, to call reporting and automated receptionists to analyse and manage your communication. Virtual office editions also support calls from 45 different countries, so if you have an international presence or employees abroad, this is a great option.

Vonage

Like 8×8, Vonage offers differently priced tiers for you to choose from depending on your business’s needs, starting from just £15 per month. And if you’re not exactly sure of what you require, you can try out a 14 day trial.

Even from the lowest tier, here too you get desktop and mobile apps to control your communications, and you’ll also get unlimited SMS messages and calls for up to four users. Choosing Vonage means you shouldn’t require any on-site installation, so it’s great for remote workers.

Mitel

Another great option is Mitel, whose cheapest plan comes in at just £3.63 per person per month. If your telecommunications needs are quite basic, this might be a good fit: it includes a deskphone with simple capabilities and voicemail.

With Mitel, you can choose on-site solutions or cloud-based systems. They have a focus on facilitating mobility, working to reduce the impact of hot-desking and remote-working on your ability to have straightforward communication. By allowing you to integrate different services like Google, Outlook, Lotus Notes, and Skype, they ensure that communication is smooth and constant from desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, too.

BT

You can also consider offerings from BT, which provides cloud-based VoIP systems as well as on-site IP and PBX options.

Options begin with a plan for up to 9 users, designed especially for small businesses. This is a great plug’n’play option which means you can get everything set up quickly and easily to get stuck into work wherever you are. If you have more employees, BT One Phone allows over 500 users, and it replaces your desk phone and mobile with a single device to allow seamless transition between office and mobile networks in a system hosted in the cloud so that you can easily move location. And with access to 4G and over 5 million WiFi hotspots, moving around is an easy and reliable process.

Gabi JamesThe best phone systems for remote workers
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