Creating a virtual office using VoIP

Man in a blue suit using his laptop to create a virtual office

If you want to impress existing or potential customers, sometimes it can help to look like a larger operation. There are many things you can do to create this illusion. One is to create a dynamic virtual office environment using VoIP

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) has given many companies new ways to promote themselves and manage their operations. It lets your business make and receive phone calls over the internet and divert calls at will, freeing you from the restraints of fixed phone lines in a bricks and mortar office.

As a result, VoIP enables even the smallest, home-based businesses to create a virtual office environment, helping them compete with larger organisations.

Set up a virtual office

Many successful businesses and sole traders base their operations out of a virtual office. Callers are greeted by a professional telephone menu. There's hold music plus recorded messages, a call back option and flexible voicemail for when calls can't be answered.

With a system like this, your company's customers need never know that you work from your dining room table. And even though it sounds expensive, actually most VoIP packages include these features as standard. Your IT supplier may be able to help you get started.

A new way of staying in touch

A good VoIP system will offer an online control panel, so you can log in and change your call settings from anywhere. You should be able to create, edit and arrange your voicemail prompts or change your answer phone message no matter where you are in the world. You can also have all calls conveniently routed to one number.

Of course, one of the main advantages of using VoIP to create a virtual office is cost. Instead of having to meet the capital cost of moving into a real office, covering rent and overheads, a virtual office provides many of the same services with greater flexibility and freedom at a significantly lower price.

Ten ways a virtual office can make you more productive

Research suggests technology can help businesses radically improve their productivity. Here are ten ways VoIP could help your company be more productive:

  1. Total control over your business phone system - You can see a complete list of staff members who use VoIP on your computer and call them with a single click, check missed calls and numbers dialled or call lengths. Some systems will even let you listen in to calls allowing you to maintain complete control.

  2. Speed dial functionality - Set up unlimited speed dial numbers, so you can quickly make calls without searching for and dialling numbers.

  3. Do not disturb - Avoid unwelcome interruptions by sending calls straight to your voicemail without the phone ringing.

  4. Priority calls - If you don't want disturbed, but are waiting for an important call, set up priority alerts  so the phone only rings if it's the person you're waiting for helping you maintain productivity without missing important calls.

  5. Conference calling - VoIP allows you to have a conference call with several people at once and since VoIP uses the internet, you shouldn't have to pay extra for this function either.

  6. Voicemail messaging - If you receive lots of calls, important messages can get buried and some systems delete messages after a certain time. With VoIP, you can receive voicemail messages as audio files in your email. Then you can listen to them, store or share them with others.

  7. Out of office messages - If you're out of office, VoIP can send a message to your mobile letting you know you've received a voicemail. Then log in on your laptop and check your messages so you never miss a sales opportunity.

  8. Call divert - VoIP makes it easy to divert calls to wherever you happen to be. You can either divert all calls to a selected number, or you can have calls forwarded to different numbers in turn, until you pick up. Callers don't even know it's happening.

  9. Remote office - Many VoIP systems have a remote office function, allowing you to route all your calls to an alternate phone. Plus, when you make a call, your work number will appear in the recipient's caller ID.

  10. Selective call forwarding - You can set rules so only important calls are forwarded to your alternate number. This means you can avoid unnecessary calls, yet still connect with the important ones.

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