Cloud phone systems let businesses benefit from a distributed workforce. New businesses are going all virtual. More companies will expand telecommuting.
Cloud phone systems supported the growth of virtual call centers in the travel and hospitality industry, online gaming, insurance and financial industries, software support, and other major consumer-facing industries. The typical virtual call centers includes staff in one or more physical contact centers, and remote agents working from home or small offices anywhere in the world.
After many years of experience, the remote agent model has been refined in all aspects. This includes recruiting and hiring the right agents, managing workload across agents, communicating as a team, efficient handling of customer requests, quality tracking and management, and organizing the customer experience in general.
With this refinement, cloud phone systems are now part of a suite of tools that are enabling new businesses to start as 100% distributed organizations, and existing businesses to migrate toward a model where a minimum of 20% of all hours are worked outside the office, and a large number of team members wore remotely nearly 100% of the time. Companies get the benefit of access to qualified staff members that would otherwise be unavailable. Companies also gain the ability to handle peak workloads without full-time staffing or renting facilities to house a peak workload workforce.
All Virtual Startup Companies
A few recent companies startups arose as “all virtual” from the beginning. The most familiar of these might by Automattic.com, a company that publishes software for WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system for web site publishing.
In a recent article, Automattic as a Distributed WorkForce, the author reviews a presentation given by Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic. In the presentation, Schneider explained in detail who the company was organized as a network of team members spread out across the world. Team members connect by VoIP phone and other tools, and use their cloud phone system tools and the Internet to work together.
Schneider reported that Automattic had 180 team members working in 138 cities in 28 countries. He went on to cover a number of points, including these three:
- Being distributed gives you a global pool of people to tap into. Less of a chance of running into scarcity of qualified workers.
- Flexibility is one of the best reasons to have a distributed work force. Working when you want, how you want, makes work fun.
- Not having a central office where everyone works in cuts down on office drama. Lack of office politics.
Cloud Phone System Enabling Remote Workers
The cloud phone system is the most important tool in uniting office and remote workers within teams and across the business. Emails, FAX, wikis, and other collaborative tools are always included in collaborative solutions. However, a cloud phone system that provides simple 4 or 5 digit toll free calling between all team members is the essential ingredient.
The most important cloud phone system features that a distributed workforce possible include these:
- Office to office with no long distance charges
- 4 or 5 digit toll-free dialing between locations
- Call routing across locations
- Call transfer
- Five free extensions
- Hunt groups
- Voicemail to email
- Conference room
- No equipment on site
- Other features including call recording, time of day routing
- Integration with international toll free numbers
The very essence of the cloud phone system is this: the distributed workforce and remote agents anywhere all enjoy the same telephone experience that team members in the central office enjoy. All the features are available everywhere, so that remote workers connect with customers and team members anywhere. That’s what makes it work.
Distributed Workforce Positioned for Growth: A Prediction
There are two parts to the expansion in use of distributed workforces.
1) We predict an expansion in the number and size of new all-virtual businesses, and hybrid organizations that are primarily distributed workforce organizations. This is most easily accomplished today because it is easy to “remote” nearly all organizations, or parts of organizations, that are not involved in physical manufacturing, construction, automotive, front of house retail or food service, or other work that requires on-site presence. Organizations and departments that do only intellectual work that can be done at a laptop can easily be “remoted”.
2) We look for the increased virtualization of established businesses. In particular, office workers who handle customer service, finance, inside sales, reservations, planning, creative, web development, digital marketing, and content creation, as examples, will see an increasing amount of “remoting”. In order to improve profitability and scalability, business will be moving more team members to part or full-time remote offices. We expect the average team member to work remotely a minimum of 20% of all hours worked.
It is also reasonable to expect growth in the proportion of business workers who work remotely 100% of the time. This will likely include more full-time team members in the new distributed workforce, not just part-time remote agents who join in to handle peak sales hours.
Cloud Phone System and Distributed Workforce References
- Cloud Phone System
- Hosted IP PBX
- AVOXI Core – Cloud PBX
- Telecommuting: Does it Work for Your Business?
- Top Cloud Services Help Startup Companies
- Automattic Corporation Begins Life as a Distributed Work Force
- Times of India Reports Survey Results – Increase in Distributed Workforce
- Wikipedia on Distributed Workforce
- Survey: Americans Say Telecommuting Works
- Mashable Infographic: Working Remotely from 20% Common, Some at 100%
- How and Why Your Startup Should Go Virtual