Employees now more than ever are choosing to work from home offices, from the road using smartphones, or in some cases, from abroad. Whether your business is looking to attract talent by offering work flexibility, seamlessly integrate remote staff, or to simply become more responsive to clients, the best path to follow is the one that leads to the cloud.

Below are four simple tips on how employers can use a cloud-based phone service (Hosted PBX) to keep employees connected:

  1. Multiple locations per extension.  Cloud PBX service allows a user to register their phone at more than one location. Your employee can have more than one desk phone and set them all up to ring and make calls from an identical number.  This is ideal for those who occasionally work from a secondary office or from home.
  2. Smartphone apps.  Most major smartphone platforms – Android, Apple and Blackberry – have app options available for users looking to integrate directly with their company’s Hosted PBX service.  These apps register with the PBX provider and then behave in a manner identical to the user’s desk phone, becoming essentially a mobile “clone.”  When the user makes outgoing calls, the receiving party will see the company’s caller ID, not the caller ID of the smartphone.  When running the app, the smartphone will also obey all rules set for that user’s extension, such as memberships in hunt groups and call queues.
  3. Call forwarding and find me/follow me.  If an employee doesn’t answer his/her desk phone for a specified period of time, you can use the “find/follow me” feature on cloud-based phone services to locate alternative numbers.  Those numbers can be outside your company – for example, an external cell phone or landline.  Think of these alternative numbers as “locations.”  You can specify how long calls should ring at each location, and chain up to three locations together using either concurrent or sequential dialing.
  4. Soft phones.  The desktop or laptop computer version of a smartphone app is called a soft phone.  These programs emulate phone functionality, again behaving as a “clone” of a user’s physical desk unit.  Users working remotely via computers can simply install the software and quickly begin to make and receive calls.  The only requirements include a USB headset and a suitable Internet connection.  A variety of soft phones are available for PC, Mac and Unix operating systems.