There is a plethora of business phone options for remote employees and finding the right one is anything but easy. There are many options available, making it hard to know which one matches your specific business needs and fully supports your remote workers. Choosing the best phone system is an important decision which can have a significant impact on your business and customers.
Businesses across all sectors have experienced a significant rise in remote working since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Office for National Statistics, 38% of working adults in Great Britain were home based at some point during the pandemic. Employees are just as likely to spend part of their working week at home or on the road as they are in the office, so it’s vital that they have the right tools to continue working productively.
Therefore, there has never been a greater demand for simple and inexpensive telephone solutions that fully support the everyday needs of your remote workforce.
Let’s examine the options available…
Cloud-Based VoIP Solutions
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, which is technology that allows you to make and receive voice calls using an internet connection rather than an analogue phone line.
Traditional telephone systems use telephone lines and on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) to handle all incoming and outgoing calls. Your PBX is a physical piece of hardware that sits in your office building. With a VoIP system, your PBX is hosted in the cloud, making it suitable for remote or hybrid working.
Benefits of VoIP Solutions
There are several advantages to using a cloud-based VoIP telephone solution.
VoIP solutions offer significant cost savings when compared to analogue phone systems as there is no need for a complicated installation or setup. Supporting employees with home and remote working can also help to reduce the running costs of a business in areas such as heating, lighting, desk space and parking.
Your remote workforce can connect to your VoIP cloud telephone system from anywhere with an internet signal and from any device, simply by downloading a VoIP mobile app. VoIP solutions support all types of working, whether your employees work remotely, on site, or a combination of the two.
VoIP makes it simple to add or remove users so that your phone system grows in step with your business without having to purchase additional lines or hardware. This facility is particularly useful when a business is preparing for a spike in demand or opening a new branch, for example.
Advancements in technology around encryption and identity management allow hosted VoIP providers to continually protect their networks. This provides an added level of cybersecurity against the threat of cyberattacks.
As well as making audio calls to landlines, mobile phones and computer-to-computer, VoIP also allows for video calls, instant messaging and file and image sharing. These systems are being constantly developed and updated in the cloud, allowing increased flexibility for your business whilst saving you both the time and expense of performing your own physical upgrades.
Disadvantages of VoIP Solutions
• Connection challenges
The strength and speed of your internet connection are key to a successful VoIP solution. If your bandwidth is low, you may experience connection issues. The bandwidth you require depends on the number of simultaneous calls your employees will be making. You can determine this by conducting a bandwidth test of your current network and overcome this with your new VoIP provider.
• Latency and jitter
To communicate online, messages are broken into data packets then reassembled at their intended destination. Latency and jitter occur when these data packets experience delays in transmission or problems with reassembly in Wi-Fi dead spots which affect the quality of a voice or video call. The issue may not lie with your network but elsewhere on the internet system. However, an experienced phone solution provider is likely to have systems built on disaster-proof infrastructure so your service will continue as normal even in the worst-case scenario.
• Limited location tracking
As VoIP calls come from an IP, or Internet Protocol address, there is no GPS data to track. This makes it difficult for third parties, including emergency services, to locate where the call originates from, but this is unlikely to impact the everyday workings of a business.
SIP Trunking Systems
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking is essentially a cloud-based version of a traditional analogue phone line. It is a direct replacement for a physical ISDN line and allows a SIP provider to connect any number of audio or video calls to your PBX via the internet.
If your office has an on-site PBX, a SIP trunking provider will enable you to make and receive calls on your existing system with zero restrictions on the number of simultaneous calls. VoIP transfers audio and video data over the internet, while SIP trunking manages those call sessions.
There is no physical hardware associated with SIP Trunking. Instead, it is a set of protocols delivered via a SIP provider that enable your business to unlock and utilise a multitude of benefits and features of cloud-based phone systems.
As BT will stop selling ISDN services in 2025, more and more businesses are switching to SIP trunking for its flexibility, performance and cost efficiency.
Benefits of SIP Trunking
Here are the main advantages SIP trunking can bring to any business...
• Low-cost calls
SIP trunking eliminates the cost of long-distance calling as SIP calls are made over the internet or a third party’s IP network instead of expensive physical phone lines. This is highly beneficial if your workforce makes long-distance calls regularly.
• Central network
SIP is IP-based over one centralised network. This allows for multiple digital usages that require no physical infrastructure or hardware and therefore no associated maintenance cost.
An additional benefit of SIP trunking is that you do not require a PBX in a specific location to create a local phone number for that location. As a result, businesses can have ‘local’ phone numbers for customers to call instead of random, impersonal numbers that may put customers off.
SIP trunking is extremely flexible and easily scalable with unlimited channels per trunk. No physical installation is required, and user channels can be added or removed quickly without fuss.
• Disaster recovery
SIP trunking is more resilient than legacy phone systems. Your employees will be able to make calls even during times of natural disaster, network failure or hardware issues as calls are likely to be routed to different locations or data centres.
Disadvantages of SIP Trunking
Your current phone system needs to be compatible. If it isn’t, there may be problems with moving over to SIP trunking and you may have to replace your current system.
If you only have one data connection, it needs to be capable of supporting your phone system in addition to anything else that uses your data. However, leading SIP providers are designing systems that automatically provide greater bandwidth when required so that the quality of SIP calls is unaffected.
VoIP And SIP Trunking Working Together
VoIP transfers audio and data over the internet, while SIP is the protocol used to start, manage and end those calls. VoIP and SIP work together to provide different ways of communicating over the internet so your remote workforce can stay connected while reducing hardware and running costs for your business.
Both VoIP and SIP allow for the transformation of audio information to and from a computer or mobile device via the internet. This makes both services perfectly suitable for remote workers when supported by an experienced and established provider of business phone solutions.
However, VoIP and SIP are not the same. SIP is essentially the core technology which makes VoIP calls possible.
VoIP is a viable option for remote working when all you require from your phone system is voice communication. But in order to support VoIP with multimedia communication functions such as video conferencing or image and file sharing, you will need to use SIP trunking technology. An experienced and trustworthy provider like Excalibur will deliver all the advice and support your business needs to move to a cloud-based phone system for your remote workforce.