Jul 23 2020

Microsoft’s Phone System Gives SMBs A New Way to Collaborate

Communication will remain critical as businesses continue to support at-home workforces.

The rise of remote work has turned nearly every organization into a multioffice operation. Even small businesses now comprise dozens of home offices as employees continue to do their jobs remotely. While some are preparing partial returns to a traditional office, it has become clear that remote work will continue to be something that organizations utilize moving forward.

Remote work only runs smoothly if workers are able to communicate seamlessly. Teams must be able to collaborate on projects, update coworkers in a timely manner and contact each other quickly if need be. And while employees do have many devices with which they can reach each other, one aspect of the traditional office often gets overlooked in the at-home setup: the office phone.

Having a dedicated line for business not only ensures that coworkers, clients or customers can reach you easily, but also — crucially, in the work-from-home era — helps maintain boundaries between work and family life. There was a time when outfitting an entire workforce with phones at home would have seemed daunting, but technology has reimagined the way we think about the traditional office phone with cloud-based public branch exchange systems.

There are many of these systems to choose from, but for small businesses looking to reduce costs and keep IT simple, Microsoft Phone System can be a great tool. While it may not be ideal for supporting call centers, it is a low-cost solution that integrates with existing Microsoft products, making it easy to deploy and easy for employees to implement.

Microsoft Phone System Is Built for Simple Collaboration

Streamlined communication has become critical for organizations. With so many tools and solutions available, some small businesses jumped at the opportunity to use them all, which only complicates things for workers. 

One of the greatest benefits of Microsoft Phone System is that it lives within a tool that many already are using: Microsoft Teams. Workers can chat via text or video, share files and make phone calls, all from the same interface — and it’s one they’re already familiar with. This can help employees, who may be fatigued by changing tools, adapt better.

The all-in-one ease of the system is also why it can be a particularly attractive option for small businesses. Simplifying technology also means simplifying vendor contracts, reducing costs and clutter. Microsoft Phone System is also priced competitively, and is even free for some businesses within their Teams subscription.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: The conferencing tech small businesses need to ensure business continuity.

What to Consider with Microsoft Phone System

As is the case with any new IT tool, there are a number of things to take into account before selecting the right options. First, there’s licensing: Some organizations already have access to Microsoft Phone System through their Teams subscription, via Microsoft 365 Business Voice. Businesses with fewer than 300 employees can have this access, delivering a crucial need for organizations that may be feeling the economic pinch right now.

Those that don’t have that access can get a subscription. One option is to use Microsoft as the carrier, so the entire communication experience is managed through Microsoft. However, if businesses prefer to keep the carrier they’re already using, Microsoft can support those outside carriers. This would be optimal for a company that is using Teams and wants to keep things simple for their workers, but perhaps is getting a special deal with their current carrier.

There are also hardware considerations. While Microsoft Phone System can run through the computer, there are many who still prefer to hold a physical phone receiver in their hands. The system does work with desk phones as well, but they must be supported by the service. Most of those models are quite new and would likely need to be purchased, but many organizations are merely using Bluetooth headsets along with the soft client option.

To make the process simpler, businesses can also get help implementing the system. This managed service can take care of piloting, number porting and configuration, all from experts who are well versed in the technology. Having a third party take charge of purchasing the hardware, acquiring the licensing and deploying the system can free up internal IT resources to focus on other tasks.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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