Hosted and Distributed Phone Systems

Every vendor paying a public relations person (and that's all of them) want to spin bad news for you into good news for them. Since we have plenty of bad news lately, at least economically, their PR machines are working overtime.

Amazingly, the answer to bad times for your pocketbook lies in new vendor products. That's the advertising biz, folks. And vendors that focus on cost savings in good times can't be chastised for saying “I told you so” at least a little in some of their recent ads. If you had bought their products earlier, you'd be in better shape, but there's still time to save yourself (I'm paraphrasing, but not by much).

While real estate costs are dropping down down down, many small businesses long ago realized that a distributed worker placement model saves money and pleases the employees. In other words, rather than force everyone to come into the office, employees work from their home office. Or kitchen table, depending.

RingCentral just released survey results saying small businesses are feeling the economic squeeze and cutting back on overhead costs (duh). The self-selecting survey, by their customers online on their Web site, won't tell us anything new. But their hosted phone model makes distributed workforces easier to deploy while still looking like everyone is still in one office. Even if a co-worker is six states away, you can transfer calls easily by dialing their extension.

Hosted phone services aren't new, and there are many of them out there. But they are a hot topic now that cost containment ranks as high on the importance scale as breathing and eating. And the easier it is to stay in contact with distributed employees, the more work you get done.

Linking cell phones as extensions works much better now, making it even easier to keep in touch. Add in instant e-mail devices like smart phones, and collaborative Web sites, instant messaging, and texting, and you honestly can't get away from co-workers even when you want to hide.

As more managers learn how to manage employee results rather than employee actions (like surfing Facebook three hours per day), more employees will be distributed. It's usually better for the employee, especially when avoiding a long commute, and management eventually figures out how to manage employees they can't sneak up on. And distributed telephone systems, like RingCentral, are a key ingredient to a successful and productive distributed workforce.

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