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So, what do you get with VoIP (Voice over IP) technology that you can’t get from a PBX (Private Branch Exchange)? Quite a bit, but we will just focus on the productivity aspect of VoIP – ways to turn your office phones into better and more flexible tools to make the lives of your employees and clients easier and more efficient. Basically, these VoIP productivity advantages fall into 3 categories.
1. Mobility – Losing the Hardwired Location
Wherever the worker is, that is where their “phone” is. The idea of a handset physically wired into the wall goes away. This is the most straightforward of the advantages of VoIP. This means workers are no longer tied to the physical location of their office phone and can take their phone/number across the office to another room – or to their home office.
The Elephant in the Room: Mobile Devices
You might ask: well, can’t they just use their cell phone and forward their office line to that device? Of course, but that kind of sidesteps the issue. A cell phone is a bit of a standalone device, whereas the PBX and VoIP are platforms that provide more than bi-directional voice communications.
The PBX has voicemail, audio conferencing, and other call sorting features that are lost when the employees shift to a mobile device. Also relying on employees’ own mobile devices raises a lot of BYOD policy issues. With an employee-owned device, there are data security issues, updates to be made, and a variety of other policies that need to be addressed.
2. More Tools, Simpler Than Traditional PBX
VoIP allows you to do a lot more with call forwarding and transfers, and it can be done from a simple application on your laptop or smartphone. It doesn’t have to be done from the handset at your desk: anyone can do it. What are some of the simpler things that can be done?
- A user can forward their calls to a mobile phone. And they can also set rules for forwarding. For instance, calls can be forwarded to voicemail after a certain time. Specific numbers can be forwarded to a mobile phone or to voicemail.
- More intriguingly, telephone messages can be transcribed to email or text message. The user can check voice messages via email. Voice communication is no longer restricted to a physical desk or phone location.
3. Transition to Complete Unified Communications
Once you’ve adopted the basic VoIP communications model, then you have access to a wide range of tools that permit users to transition from one mode of communication to another while remaining on one platform. As mentioned, voicemails can be translated into text or emails into voice messages. More importantly, audio and video conferencing and visual sharing can be incorporated into the communications model, so you no longer use separate platforms for the different communications media. What can VoIP offer under the heading of unified communications? Here is a list of the main possible features.
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- Call control
- Internet telephony (VoIP)
- Instant messaging
- Screen sharing
- Speech recognition
As a final observation, it needs to be noted that VoIP and Unified Communications are generic terms. Different vendors may offer different combinations of available services. But the point is, the rapidly evolving WFH and hoteling model is going to require adopting an entirely new communication model.
VoIP isn’t only about proving more and better options over PBX, it’s also about making your IT infrastructure more resilient and flexible. From starting a Work From Home Initiative to being ready if disaster strikes, VoIP can save the day. If you would like to learn more about VoIP, especially Managed VoIP, contact Triton Technologies today.
While setting up a Work from Home (WFH) Initiative is a vital part of making your office more resilient – or, in some cases, sustainable such as COVID-19 or during natural disasters. However, there can be significant security, IT, and compliance issues that can arise if you’re just sending employees home to work on their laptops. In this blog, we address four interrelated issues that need careful consideration.
1. Having the Right Equipment for Employees
It should be outlined what equipment and utilities employers and employees are responsible for providing and maintaining. Will internet bandwidth be a reimbursable expense? Will laptops, phones, etc. be provided by the business, or will this be a “Bring Your Own Device” – BYOD – project where employees will use their personal devices?
2. Maintenance and Upgrades on Hardware
If technology is provided by the employer, what is the employee’s responsibility to keep it maintained, upgrades installed, etc.? Even if you have a BYOD policy, are employees required to bring their devices in for upgrades and security checks?
3. WFH and the Fair Labor Standards Act
Just because an employee works from home, it doesn’t mean overtime laws go out the window. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) creates a framework for paying wages above the law’s definition of a 40-hour workweek that includes overtime pay for work performed beyond that threshold. Under FLSA, two basic classes of workers are defined: those employees who must be paid overtime when working over forty hours (non-exempt employees), and those who are not required to be compensated for work done beyond the 40-hour limit (exempt employees)
Diving Deeper into FLSA and Remote Work
The problem FLSA presents is that non-exempt employees must be paid for all work, including any work activity outside regular working hours. An example of the liability that is created for an employer are employees who respond to texts and emails from home outside “office hours.” This is compensable work and needs to be counted under the 40-hour threshold. Policies that protect you from any violation of FLSA should be articulated clearly in writing. Because they are not physically in the building, it becomes trickier to observe and limit their work activity.
4. Silos and Compliance
When developing a WFH initiative, the above issue of FLSA points out that effective WFH planning and implementation requires collaboration, and not just between individual managers and employees. Is it an IT issue-who is supporting all of this off-site technology and maintaining data security? Is it a human resource issue-will performance measurements that need to be tweaked? What about FLSA and similar laws? Is it a legal issue-how is data governed by federal and state laws such as HIPAA and FERPA being handled? Is Wi-Fi permitted? And remember, if you’re operating in Massachusetts, you have to deal with the strict MA Data Privacy laws.
It is extremely important that companies look into the legal and cybersecurity angle before opting for the work from home setup. WFH can prove beneficial to both the employer and the employee if planned well and implemented properly, but just like the work itself, your policies and IT need to adapt.
Triton Technologies has spent years getting clients and their employees onto the cloud, from hosting to VoIP alongside every conceivable WFH initiative and setup. If you’re looking for a remote worker setup that keeps you and your employees safe and productive, contact us today for an IT consultation.