These four must-have technologies are essential to reaping the cost and productivity benefits of a growing telecommuting workforce—and pushing the envelope of what it means to be part of a national or even international team.
1. Integrated communications to boost productivity
This is a real productivity booster for telecommuters who need to check their voicemail and incoming faxes while away from the office or on the run. Voicemail and incoming faxes can easily be delivered to email, saving time and making for easy retrieval. And any telecommuter will tell you that mobile integration is increasingly more important—especially as “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) permeates the small business.
For Gabrielle Bunker and other mobile telecommuters, a critical must-have is an app that integrates with her VoIP-based 8x8 Virtual Office. In particular, she says she loves the voicemail-to-email feature that comes with 8x8, her VoIP-based business phone service provider. Whenever she gets a voicemail at her 8x8 extension, it’s immediately sent to her smartphone where she can just click on it to listen. The 8x8 app essentially turns her smartphone into an 8x8 extension, without her ever having to give out her personal mobile number.
“It’s super convenient, and I have a quick and easy way to timely return calls via the email links to callers’ numbers which work perfectly with my smartphone,” says Bunker, a San Diego-based attorney. “I use my computer or the 8x8 smartphone app to make phone calls when I am away from the office, which allows me to be available and professional even when I am out on a site inspection, mediation, deposition, or even a vacation!”
2. Web conferencing
When you need to collaborate with people around the country or around the globe, web conferencing not only saves on travel costs and time lost in transit, it cuts down on road-weariness and burnout. Travel to exotic locations is often welcome, but how many trips to Duluth or Bakersfield can an average person make before it starts to get old?”
I love the fact that my office can communicate via video conferencing,” says Dane Grey, President of Elite Parking of America. “It makes Skype seem ultimately irrelevant for business.” And, of course, the visual medium makes it easier to build relationships, read body language, and work together.”
“Employees are able to save money by not having to travel to an office, and the clients can maintain the relationships they have developed,” says Greg Eiler, a manager at CIS Internet. In addition, Eiler says his company is able to direct the savings to advertising and improving its Internet marketing services, a big win for company growth.
3. Easily customizable call routing for great collaboration
Telecommuters say technology should never get in the way of communications. If you’ve ever dropped a call while trying to transfer or connect with multiple callers, you know how frustrating communications can be when you’re fumbling with technology. This is especially embarrassing when you’re collaborating with clients, when a dropped call can equal lost business.
That’s where VoIP can help. VoIP simplifies these common features with easy user interfaces that allow telecommuters to focus on their work instead of how to operate the technology. “Our employees have transitioned to a virtual workspace, and the 8x8 system has allowed us to easily manage call routing to our employees, wherever they may be located,” said Pete Houtekier, an IT consultant for Creative Computer Services.
“Forwarding and conference calling has been amazingly successful and easy compared to our old phone system.”
4. Cheap, Easy International Calling and Connectivity for Extreme Telecommuting
International connectivity is the acid test for how well a business phone system ties employees together, and here VoIP excels. With the right VoIP service, nobody can tell you’re traveling, in another state or in another country.
“My company started using 8x8 services a couple months before I took a six-month trip to Chile,” says Hatton Point Software’s Jesse Hormachea. “I was able to log in and use 8x8 from my web browser and iPhone and never missed a call to my desk. I was able to work full time while traveling through the whole country. This would have been impossible on our old phone system. My clients and peers never saw a drop in productivity as most of my work is done remotely for clients.”National and even international teamwork is easier, too.
“Running a company with team members located in various parts of the US and now in Peru, we need a business phone service that enables us to stay connected easily,” says Michelle Spalding, CEO of TMC, a real-estate services company. “8x8 business VoIP has given us a unified system that allows us to work from almost anywhere. Business is no longer about a location, it’s about service, and with our current phone systems, we’re able to deliver great service anywhere.”
Edward Milgram, Chief Technology Officer for SparkTran, agrees. “We have employees in other locations of the world working with customers in the USA. For example, our Venezuela-based account director started here using 8x8’s amazing iPhone client app. We then equipped him with an 8x8 Polycom phone, and he is now as productive as any US-based employee.” And, of course, business VoIP can really cut the cost of international calling, as well.
“We are a small business always looking to reduce costs, and after moving to 8x8, we reduced our monthly telephone bill by 80%!” says Keith Russell, president of Euresys. “I do a lot of international travel, and using Virtual Office on a Wi-Fi network helps me to keep my international mobile phone costs down,” says Russell.
One-third (34%) of American workers who are not self-employed say they spend time during normal business hours working from home, according to this 2013 poll by Harris Interactive. Like Russell and Hormachea, our telecommuting customers tell us they’ve got everything they need to work from anywhere.
Learn how a small business phone system can ensure optimal productivity for your telecommuting workforce.