More and more people are working from home. There are a number of reasons for this: cost of commuting, commuting's impact on the environment, downscaling of businesses, home business start ups, and the list goes on. Regardless of the reason for people working from home, it is happening in record numbers. As people make the move to the home office one of the biggest challenges they face is in their phone system. What many people will do is have their home phone line pull the double duty of handling personal and business calls or pay to have another standard phone line installed in their home for business. The inherent problems with these answers is that they fail to address 3 very important aspects of what any business phone system should include.
When deciding how new home office communications will work, these 3 things should be considered: maintaining a professional image, functionality, and flexibility.
Maintaining a professional image while working from home can be challenging. One of the major reasons for this is because of the need to be available by phone to your clients, customers, and or colleagues. If you have both personal and business calls coming in on the same phone line, unless you greet every caller as if it were a business call, you are not able to answer professionally. A virtual phone service will solve this problem for you by giving you advanced notice of the kind of call that is coming in. Even though a virtual phone service uses your already established phone lines, you will still know how you need to greet the caller before you answer. This can be done with an announcement that only you will hear stating that you have a business call while the caller listens to on hold music. They won't even know they are being transferred to a home phone unless you tell them.
One of the next things to consider is functionality. A business phone needs much more functionality than what can usually be found in a home phone. A virtual phone service answers this with features such as main menu greetings that will let the caller know they have reached a professional business, the ability to have multiple extensions in case there still needs to be different departments (or the illusion of different departments), the ability to transfer calls between extensions or phone numbers, and the ability to send and receive faxes. Those things just cannot be found in a standard home phone and without them home offices will lose a lot of functionality that a business needs in order to maintain their professional image and efficiency. A virtual phone service will allow all of this functionality without having to install an expensive phone system in the home. With a virtual phone service, all that expensive phone system equipment is housed by the service provider and the home office reaps the benefits.
A major advantage of working from home is the flexibility that it allows. However, the communications have to be flexible as well in order to take advantage of the freedom that a home office can offer. A virtual phone service is flexible so that users are free to take calls anywhere they like. They are not stuck taking calls from the home office. They can take them on their cell phone lying on the beach if they want and all calls will still be answered with a consistent and professional message. They can receive fax and voicemail messages to any email address or on any computer with Internet access and change call forwarding numbers on the fly at any time. That kind of flexibility is just not possible with a standard phone line.
A major issue for people starting to work from home, whether it be telecommuting or a home based business, is the question of how they will handle their phone set up. A virtual phone service answers that question with its advanced features that allow home office workers to maintain a professional image, enjoy the enhanced functionality that a business requires and take advantage of the flexibility that comes with working from home.