VoIP for home: How to prepare your phone system for home working

How to set up your phone system to carry on with business as usual from home

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Robyn Summers-Emler Grow Online Editor

With the right phone set up, businesses can carry usual if you have staff doing hybrid work or working entirely from home. By using a home VoIP system or even a virtual landline, staff can use their computers or mobile phones to stay within a shared business communication platform.

To ensure businesses are getting the right phone system advice, Startups sat down with Steve Bradshaw, Director of telecommunications business, Consega Limited, to find out what businesses should do when switching to a VoIP setup.

Is now the time to invest in a VoIP phone system?

Yes. The great thing about VoIP phone systems is they work from anywhere, so even if your employees were to take their VoIP phones home, the system would still function as normal. 

This means customers and clients can use the same number, and the auto-attendant still directs callers to the right phone, whether that phone is plugged in at the office, or in someone’s lounge.

How can businesses set up their VoIP phone system for home working?

If employees take their VoIP phone home, they’ll need to plug it directly into their internet router. 

If employees are concerned because their router is in a different place to their desk, a quick solution is to purchase a DECT VoIP phone. A DECT phone base plugs into the router, then employees are free to roam around their house with full VoIP functionality.

How can employees effectively use mobile phones for home working?

Downloading a softphone app onto a mobile phone is another way to benefit from the features of the office VoIP phone system. 

A softphone turns their mobile phone into an extension of their VoIP system. Because the softphone app is provided by your VoIP provider, employees will have access to the same functions as if they were using their deskphone, including making outbound calls. 

If businesses don’t have the option to download a softphone app, you can set up call forwarding on each office VoIP phone, meaning if a call comes through to that phone, the phone forwards the call to that employee’s mobile phone. 

What should a business do if it has a traditional landline?

While businesses with traditional landlines can set up a call divert to a mobile phone, this is limiting to business communications, as all calls will go to that mobile number and it can only handle one call at a time. 

Businesses can however, purchase a VoIP phone system and have BT set up a call divert on their landline to a VoIP phone number. There is a small charge to set up a call divert, and a small charge to divert each call to a VoIP phone system. However, businesses will then have full use of a VoIP phone system and the features that come with it.

What VoIP features should businesses be using?

To work from home, it’s a good idea to have call forwarding, voicemail to email, and an auto-attendant. 

Call forwarding allows businesses to set up a call chain, whereby a call transfers from phone to phone in a set sequence until the call is answered. 

Voicemail to email sends recorded voicemails to specified email addresses. This means anyone can listen to any voicemail recorded on any phone. 

An auto-attendant allows callers to select which service they need. Every number on the auto-attendant corresponds to a phone. Once a caller presses that number, the call is transferred automatically to the corresponding phone.

Can you give us a recent example of when you’ve had to put this advice into practice?

Western Designs is an architectural business based in Dorset. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, they needed to ensure their phone system would support efficient home working. 

western design logoIn the office, they have a traditional PBX phone system with five lines. This meant they had no means of managing calls outside of the office, other than to divert all calls from all five lines to a single number.

To benefit from the home working capabilities that VoIP offers as quickly as possible, Western Designs asked Consega Limited to set up a new VoIP system specifically for home workers using VOIP DECT telephones. 

Once the new VoIP system was in place, Consega Limited set up a call divert from their traditional phone system to the new VoIP phone system. 

This meant the VoIP phone system could distribute up to five incoming calls to the VoIP phones that employees have at home, rather than have one phone handle all incoming calls. 

Once the call is being handled by the new VoIP phone system, incoming calls can be transferred to other employees in the business who are either using a VoIP phone or a softphone app on their mobile. 

Employees can also use their VoIP phones to make calls to clients using the normal Western Design phone number to avoid confusion. 

Once the current situation caused by the Coronavirus outbreak is over and normal office duties resume, the divert can be removed and they can go back to using their traditional PBX system. 

By now, of course, the client should be changing that old traditional system in the office to a new VOIP system!

What next? Setting up VoIP at home

If you think investing in a VoIP phone system is the right move for your business, why not compare quotes from a range of our partners to find out exactly how much it’ll cost?

All you need to do is provide us with a few basic details about your business and we’ll pair you up with the providers that meet your needs. 

They’ll soon be in touch with prices and more information!

Written by:
Aimee is Startups' resident expert in business tech, products, and services. She loves a great story and enjoys chatting to the startups and small business community. Starting her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she has a healthy respect for self-starters and local services.
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