Remote work has been steadily gaining in popularity for the past decade.
As much as 4.7 million people in the US work from home at least half of the week.
Remote work also saves them an average of $5,000 every year because they don’t need to pay for on-site and work travel expenses.
While remote work has plenty of benefits, it also has a significant disadvantage: lack of communication.
Employees that work from home have trouble communicating with their coworkers effectively, which can result in delays and misunderstandings.
This is where VoIP can help.
In this post, we’re going to talk about how VoIP makes working from home easier, and why all businesses should consider adopting it.
To be able to understand all the benefits of VoIP for the remote worker, we first need to talk about the challenges of remote work.
The challenges of working from home
While working from home has a number of benefits (such as having a flexible work schedule), it also comes with its set of challenges.
The most common ones include overworking, reduced productivity, lack of communication, and isolation.
When they first start working remotely, employees are often worried that their boss will think they’re slacking off, so they overcompensate by working all the time.
In fact, as much as 23% of remote employees state that they work longer hours when working from home while 18% have trouble unplugging after work.
When you live and work under the same roof, it can also be genuinely hard to separate your personal life from your work life. This is especially true if you’re self-employed.
You’ll often forget to take breaks from work, as well as think about work even when you’re not working, which is exhausting in itself.
Getting back on your computer after work hours to check your inbox or finish up a small task will also become a common occurrence.
Doing this can quickly spiral into you working for a couple more hours, even though you decided to stop working for the day. You might also keep working late into the night, which can affect your sleep schedule and might even result in sleep deprivation.
This type of behavior is problematic because it doesn’t allow you to ever really relax or do other things besides work.
By not allowing yourself to rest and unwind properly, you risk exhausting yourself and being less productive than you would be if you worked fewer hours.
Overworking also minimizes your personal time, which, apart from decreasing your overall quality of life, also affects your mental health.
While remote work comes with a degree of flexibility, it can be easy to fall into the trap of productive procrastination – doing everything except work (e.g., cleaning up your apartment for the n-th time this week) just to avoid working.
By doing this, you fall victim to Parkinson’s law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, the more time you have to complete a task, the more time you spend working on it.
Image source: Vitaly Tennant
Then there are the usual distractions, such as checking your social media feeds or messaging friends.
Additionally, your family might expect you to be available to do chores or discuss things unrelated to work when you’re working from home. This can be especially difficult if you have young children who don’t understand that you need to work.
If you live alone, you’ll have to wash the dishes or do your laundry at some point throughout the day too.
You’ll also be faced with other types of distractions, such as in-laws visiting unannounced or the UPS delivery guy ringing your doorbell to ask you to sign for a package.
Staying focused surrounded by all these distractions is no easy feat, especially if you have problems with self-discipline.
If you don’t make the proper adjustments and preparations, you’ll most likely experience a severe reduction in your overall productivity when first starting to work from home.
Lack of communication
When working remotely, team members tend to communicate less than if they were working together in an office.
This is further complicated when a company has employees in different time zones.
You might have employees that are finishing up with work at a time when others are just waking up. This makes collaboration more difficult and often results in delays in completing work.
While a quick question could get answered instantly in an office setting, the same question could take a day (or even more) to get answered when you’re working remotely.
Communicating with a remote team can get messy, with a lot of misunderstandings and unanswered questions.
This can stop you from doing work or result in you doing the wrong thing because of a misunderstanding.
A lack of communication can slow down a business’ workflow and significantly reduce the overall productivity and effectiveness of its employees.
Working from home naturally reduces the amount of social interaction you have on a daily basis.
Your coworkers are a part of your social circle, and when you don’t see them every day, you can start feeling lonely very soon.
If you live alone, the feeling of loneliness can be amplified even further.
You’ll spend all your time at home, sometimes not leaving your apartment or house for days at a time.
Image source: Buffer
As you might imagine, this isn’t healthy at all.
Social isolation has been shown to impact both physical and mental health. It’s been associated with cognitive decline, depression, and a weakened immune system.
Humans are social animals, and we need to interact with other people to stay sane.
If you want to stay healthy while working from home, you’ll need to find a way to increase the amount of social interaction you have on a daily basis.
Thankfully, VoIP can help you do precisely that.
How VoIP makes working from home easier
Plenty of businesses have recognized the advantages of VoIP.
VoIP is especially useful for remote workers and self-employed professionals who work from home. It allows you to:
Work on the go
Working remotely doesn’t mean that you have to work from home all the time. You could be answering emails at a coffee shop, doing some deep work at a coworking space, or even working from the beach.
VoIP promotes working on the go and allows you to communicate with team members, customers, and clients no matter where you are.
All you need is an Internet connection, and you’ll able to stay in touch with everyone who’s important for allowing you to do your job.
By having the option of working on the go, you’ll feel less isolated and be healthier overall because you won’t spend all your time at home alone.
VoIP improves team communication and allows you to have a clear idea of what you should be doing during the workday.
It also enables you to stay in touch with your coworkers to chat about non-work related things, which can help you go through the workday more easily.
All of this significantly reduces stress and allows you to do your job well.
VoIP enables you to communicate with your team members instantly. It also allows you to get feedback quickly and make decisions more easily.
With VoIP, you won’t have to wait a day or more for a coworker to answer your email. You’ll also be able to exchange ideas more easily and spend more time working instead of waiting for your boss or coworker to clarify something.
This speeds up your company’s workflow significantly and allows you to get more work done in less time. By completing your work duties more quickly, you’ll also have more time for yourself and avoid overworking.
VoIP helps to improve productivity on both the individual and the company level.
The most important benefit of using VoIP is that it significantly enhances communication.
It helps to ensure that everyone on your team can be updated on the latest company news, projects, and deadlines as quickly as possible.
The most useful VoIP features for remote work include:
VoIP enables you to hold conference calls or virtual meetings with your team.
These can be audio or video calls.
With video calls, team members will have the option of joining with video, audio, or both. This gives participants more options and allows them to choose the one that makes them the most comfortable.
Video calls also provide participants with the option of giving presentations or sharing their screen, which allows for a more productive meeting.
These types of conference calls are very easy to set up and join using VoIP technology.
Participants can simply dial into the conference call using their phone or computer.
The manager (or whoever is organizing the virtual meeting) can start multiple conference calls, with each call supporting dozens of participants.
Meetings can be secured using PIN codes to prevent access to people outside your company. This helps to ensure that you’ll be able to share sensitive information without being afraid that it will leave the company.
Advanced voicemail features
Traditional voicemail is severely lacking in features compared to modern VoIP voicemail.
If you’re working from home, these features can be very useful for you.
They include sending voicemail messages to your email address as audio files that you can play on your computer and smartphone, as well as transcribing voicemail so that you can save time reading your messages instead of listening to them.
Most VoIP solutions also support sending email notifications for new voicemail messages, which ensures that you’ll get notified of any messages as soon as possible.
Protect your privacy
Another important benefit of using VoIP when working from home is that it protects your privacy.
While you can install and use VoIP software on a multitude of devices, including your smartphone, computer, laptop, and tablet, it functions separately from your personal phone number and messaging apps.
This means that you’ll able to keep your personal and business communication separate at all times. With VoIP, there’s no need to give your personal number to anyone, no matter if they’re a coworker or a customer.
How to set up a VoIP phone system for working from home
Now that you understand how much easier it is to work from home when you’re using VoIP, you’re probably looking to learn how to implement it.
We’ve got you covered.
Keep on reading to learn how to set up a VoIP phone system for your remote working setup.
Choose a VoIP provider
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on a VoIP provider.
This can seem tricky at first because there are a lot of different providers out there.
You’ll want to consider your needs before settling on a particular vendor.
Start by thinking about what kind of number you need, as well as what kind of calls you plan on making. In most cases, you’ll have the following types of phone numbers at your disposal:
- Local numbers – Phone numbers in your local area. These are best suited for small businesses that target a local market.
- Toll-free numbers – These types of numbers are set up to charge for incoming calls instead of charging the original caller. They usually start with the 800 prefix.
- Vanity numbers – Usually spell out a specific word. The idea behind using a vanity number is that it’s more memorable compared to a regular number.
Next, think about how many inbound and outbound calls you plan on making, as well as how many VoIP user accounts you’re going to need. You’ll also want to put some thought into the different features you need your new VoIP solution to have.
Put all of this down on paper and then start comparing different providers to find out how their offering aligns with your needs. You can use websites such as G2 and Capterra to have an easier time comparing different solutions.
Finally, you might also want to consider consulting with other people in your industry to find out what VoIP solutions they’ve been using.
Get a device that supports VoIP
If you own a modern smartphone, you already have all the hardware you need to start using VoIP.
You can also use VoIP if you have a laptop or a desktop computer with a built-in microphone.
Set up the features you need
Once you decide on a provider and get a VoIP device, you’ll want to set up all the features you need.
The most popular features include auto-attendant, call queueing, mobile twinning, conference bridge, call recording, voicemail-to-email, and music on hold.
Depending on your needs, you might also want to set up a number of additional features.
If this proves to be too difficult, you can always ask your provider for help.
Test your VoIP system
It’s important to fully test out your VoIP system before you start using it.
Try out all the features yourself first and then ask a friend to call you to check if everything is working properly on both sides.
Use different devices to call your number and receive calls to make sure your system works properly across desktop and mobile devices.
Remember to check the audio quality and background noise to ensure that callers will be able to hear you properly.
If you’re looking to use VoIP alongside other apps, you’ll also want to check if app integrations are functioning correctly.
Start using VoIP today
Remote working keeps growing in popularity with every year that goes by. While most people prefer working from home, this type of work arrangement isn’t without its drawbacks.
Remote workers often suffer from overworking, reduced productivity, lack of communication, and isolation.
However, VoIP can alleviate these issues, as well as significantly simplify and improve remote work.
VoIP allows people to enhance communication, work on the go, reduce stress, improve productivity, and protect their privacy.
It’s also very easy to set up. All you need to do is choose a VoIP provider, get a device that supports VoIP, set up the features you need, and then test the system to make sure it’s working correctly.
If you got this far, you already have all the information you need to start using VoIP in your home office, so go ahead and do it!
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