Running a business from home (or even telecommuting a few days each month) is a dream for many. Aside from saving time and money on long commutes, telecommuting also lets business owners and employees work flexible hours (which, in turn, contributes to better work-life balance). But in order to achieve productivity while working from home, one of the first things you need to do is set up a reliable and well-equipped home office.
There are plenty of tools that promise to make life easier for home-based entrepreneurs and employees. However, none is more powerful than a professional Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. A VoIP phone system is an essential part of any home office setup because it facilitates efficient communications and collaboration among clients, colleagues and customers.
But it’s not just enough to have a VoIP phone system for your home office. It’s also equally important to ensure that your VoIP system carries the right features. Beyond basic features like voicemail and caller ID, here’s a list of the best phone system features you need for your home office:
Essentially a virtual receptionist, an auto-attendant offers exceptional value to self-employed or remote workers who need help managing incoming calls or want a "legitimacy boost." The auto-attendant feature answers the phone for you, greets callers with a customized message, and provides a menu of choices to callers so they can reach the right person or department.
There are many businesses and reasons to use an auto-attendant. For example, you may set up your auto-attendant to offer options such as “To learn answers to frequently asked questions, press 1. To leave a message, press 2. For urgent concerns that require immediate attention, press 3.” Having an auto-attendant for your home office not only helps you reduce call clutter, it also helps you stay professional and organized.
One of the perks of working from home is that you can occasionally take strategic breaks to boost your efficiency and productivity. After an hour-long conference call, for example, you may want to take a breather by making yourself a cup of coffee or a sandwich. But the downside is that during your break, you might miss another important call from a client or a colleague.
This is where the Call Hunting or Find Me/Follow Me feature comes in handy. It gives you a chance to answer a call wherever you are. You can use this feature to forward unanswered calls to a specified list of numbers or devices. If you fail to answer a call on your office phone, the call will be forwarded to your cell phone, and then to your home phone until you pick up the call. You can also choose to set incoming calls to ring on multiple numbers at the same time so you’ll never miss a call anytime you’re away from your desk.
Many remote employees appreciate working from home because it is usually less distracting than working in an office. But it’s not always a given. In some cases, just when you’re trying to finish a project or polish a proposal, someone might surprise you with a call which can break your concentration. This is why the Do Not Disturb feature is a must-have. You can activate this feature to automatically direct all incoming phone calls directly to your voicemail when you need to work in peace.
Also referenced as virtual numbers, virtual extensions are incredibly useful for home-based businesses or employees who are constantly on the go. A virtual extension forwards calls to another existing phone number (typically a mobile phone number) and is not associated with a physical telephone. It also lets employees stay part of the same phone system, regardless of their location.
Furthermore, having a virtual extension helps small, home-based businesses establish a local presence and encourage customers to call without incurring expensive long-distance fees.
Meeting with remote colleagues and clients is often necessary to complete a project, get updates on tasks, negotiate a deal, and more. But traveling for an in-person meeting can be both costly and inconvenient. A phone system that carries a conferencing tool is a huge help as it makes it easy to communicate with clients and collaborate between teams across different locations--as if you’re all in the same room.
Most VoIP phone system providers offer a Call Conference (also known as Three-Way Calling) feature that lets you add an additional person to the call. If you need to hold conference calls for up to 30 participants, the Conference Bridge feature is also very useful. And don't forget about Video Conferencing for another conferencing option, too.
Whether you’re managing your business right from your apartment or are splitting time between your home and your office, a VoIP phone system will help you get work done quickly and efficiently. But make sure the phone system you choose for your home office brings an array of features (like the ones we mentioned above) to ensure success and productivity.