The President of the United States works from home, and so do 37% of people in America, according to the latest Gallup survey. If you’re like the growing number of business owners that allow telecommuting, you probably want to make sure your employees stay productive while working at home. Luckily, technology can help.
New technologies like cloud business phone systems and unified communications (UC) connect workers in and out of the office. Unlike on-premise phone systems that are designed to connect workers in a building over hardwire connections, a virtual PBX in the cloud supports users anywhere there is an internet connection. And since it is based on internet technology, it supports things like web meetings, online fax, and HD video conferencing.
Here are a few ways that a cloud phone system and UC can make your telecommuters part of the office water cooler community, and optimize productivity.
1) Plug-and-Play Business Desk Phones and Softphones
Having a full-featured business phone on the desk is a big plus for home workers. They can get real-time notifications of voicemail or touch to dial coworkers from the company directory. With a cloud phone system, it doesn’t require any installation cost: your employee simply takes a phone home and plugs it into an Ethernet connection. And with an advanced cloud service like RingCentral Office, the phone will even call into the network and set up itself.
Your telecommuters can also enjoy the same full-featured experience on a computer with the RingCentral Desktop app. They just plug in a Bluetooth headset and use the softphone app to call or text from their computer, and HD voice delivers crisp, clear sound.
2) Online Fax
Many businesses still depend on faxes. You don’t need to spend money on fax machines and expensive toner. It’s easy to equip your telecommuters with online fax that works from a desktop interface or on a mobile device.
A service like RingCentral can receive faxes from any fax machine or fax service, store hundreds of messages for an unlimited period of time, and block spam faxes. Your home office workers can send faxes from scans, emails or cloud storage, and even customize coversheets or use vanity fax numbers for a small fee.
In terms of security, telecommuters can send faxes over the secure RingCentral connection and store them in a password-protected account. For businesses or medical clinics that handle sensitive employee or patient health information covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you can activate a HIPAA conduit setting.
3) Online Meetings, Conferencing, and Team Messaging
One of the biggest concerns about telecommuters is making sure they don’t become isolated from coworkers. Several technologies can help keep them fully engaged with the company and individual project teams. An all-inclusive cloud phone system like RingCentral makes it cost-effective to give your telecommuters all of these tools without the cost and complexity of separate solutions. One monthly service fee includes audio and HD video conferencing, web meetings, and team messaging and collaboration.
A unique RingCentral feature also makes it fast and simple to set up video-enabled conference rooms that rival expensive on-premise telepresence environments. It’s easy to bring telecommuters into one of these virtual meeting rooms by linking to their mobile smartphones or tablets running the RingCentral Meetings app.
Team messaging apps like RingCentral Glip, Slack, and Hipchat are quickly becoming key technologies for helping groups get more work done. When it comes to telecommuters, they can provide the instantaneous collaboration of meeting coworkers in person, the ability to share files, task lists, and calendars with a project group. Better still, Glip is included at no cost with RingCentral Office and integrates with the phone system. This makes it easy to add members to a team from the company directory or elevate a messaging chat to an audio call or HD video conference with one click.
So forget your fears of workers in bunny slippers. These cloud phone and UC technologies can give your telecommuters all the communications capabilities of employees at the office. With options for face-to-face video collaboration and the ability for coworkers to quickly direct dial or message remote workers, you can meet the needs of work-life balance while ensuring your business remains productive.
Originally published Jan 04, 2017, updated Sep 23, 2020