Post-pandemic, many businesses opted to keep flexible working in place. Prior to this, nationwide lockdowns meant that any business where phone systems were central to operations, needed to adapt to the changing times.
Remote and hybrid working offered stability. It meant employees could continue to be productive at home, while containing the spread of the virus. This approach also offered benefits including reduced running costs and a healthier work-life balance for staff.
VoIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol) played a substantial role in this move, giving businesses and their employees a freedom most hadn’t experienced.
It allowed companies to review practices that may have been restricting their performance, and adapt them to a flexible way of working.
Before the pandemic hit, only 5% of the UK workforce worked remotely full time. Office-based businesses expected employees to spend the majority of time on-site, with exceptions made for cases like part time workers or those with childcare issues.
For decades prior, this was the norm. All employees, technology and phone systems functioned on-site, with no reason to consider why this may or may not be beneficial.
By accepting this status quo, businesses couldn’t see the benefits of updating their systems. But with communication tools like Zoom and Skype’s increasing popularity, it was clear that to future proof their business, they needed to start with their phone systems.
Tech-savvy businesses were early adopters of hybrid working, utilising an internet based communication called VoIP. The majority though, remained tethered to their locations, with their telephony operation connected by soon to be retired PSTN landlines.
VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a form of communication that allows calls to be made using a broadband connection.
Where traditional PSTN and ISDN use copper wiring, VoIP turns sound and video into raw data packets. These packets can then be transmitted to and from anywhere, as long as users have broadband access.
In 2025, all PSTN and ISDN lines will be terminated, and anyone with a traditional phone service will need to find a digital solution.
Luckily, services are already in place for both businesses and consumers. BT’s Digital Voice offers consumers everything a traditional landline does, but connects via broadband rather than a PSTN connection.
A wire-free approach means companies can offer remote or hybrid working to staff, alongside having greater autonomy and customisation over their phone systems.
VoIP offers powerful features that older systems simply don’t have the capacity to deliver.
It’s not just bells and whistles though. Communication via a broadband connection allows companies freedom, vitality, confidence and a better reputation. In a world where hybrid working has become the norm, these attributes are more important than ever.
With a broadband connection, businesses can offer easier access to information and expertise for their audience.
ISDN connections often left customers frustrated with their limited functionality, including long call waiting times and confusing options. VoIP services iron out these creases in the customer journey, looking to provide a direct route to the information, advice or service required.
VoIP systems also help businesses offer flexible working routines for staff too. Previously, employers may not have trusted staff to work in a hybrid environment - fearing reduced productivity and miscommunications.
VoIP systems like 3CX, offer what is known as Unified Communication. They encompass everything a telephony based business requires, including the ability to monitor staff productivity and ensure their time is used effectively.
This level of trust and understanding can reinforce employee faith in their employer. It reassures staff that they are trusted to work remotely, in turn boosting workforce morale.
Alongside increasing trust, both within and outside of a company, VoIP has removed many of the barriers that traditional telephony systems created.
Studies show that companies switching from analogue to VoIP services have cut their bills in half. Where fees for installing and maintaining a landline would have impacted a company's budget, VoIP’s reliance on the internet eliminates those costs.
With a landline connection, companies with multiple locations often needed different providers for their location. Each provider would be paid separately, therefore leaving businesses with several payments to make.
VoIP’s broadband connectivity means businesses only require a single provider and plan - replacing a handful of separate payments, with one affordable fee.
There’s also less to pay for additional devices too, with most VoIP systems operating from a choice of VoIP apps for mobiles and computers, SIP desk phones or with an adapter for your existing phones.
Another disadvantage of analogue phone systems was an inability to grow alongside a business. The knock on effect was neither budget or employee friendly.
It was the norm for businesses to incur cost for additional lines, devices or sometimes entirely new systems. VoIP gives users a low cost option that can be scaled to their needs.
Capacity wise, businesses often fluctuate in headcount. VoIP’s software allows easy addition or removal of users, eliminating wasted IT resources or calling in engineers.
They also accommodate a range of existing systems like CRMs, ERPs and more, which can be integrated with your VoIP service to create a cohesive, accessible system. This is a marked improvement over legacy systems that saw staff clicking back and forth between a tangle of separate programs.
With ISDN-based phone systems as the accepted norm, employees were locked into working onsite. VoIP has revolutionised this approach, eliminating the need for phone lines.
Employees can now work anywhere that has the internet. They aren’t restricted to their home broadband connection either, as VoIP allows them to make and receive calls while in transit too.
It also lifts the barrier of geographical location with instant messaging and video conferencing features. Businesses can now employ skilled workers from anywhere in the world, without the restrictions of long distance calling or overlong commutes.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all businesses are implementing homeworking. But VoIP’s benefits allow them to be more accommodating to childcare, wellbeing and the bigger picture of their employees' lives.
ISDN-based and VoIP phone systems are robust and secure in different ways.
Landline connections are dedicated networks that don’t require broadband to run. This lowers security risk, as information is only travelling back and forth down a copper wire between users.
Though VoIP connections are internet based networks, they are reinforced with encryption protocols, firewall protection and network security.
VoIP functions as a stronger model not necessarily because it’s more secure. What makes it more robust is the features that work alongside its security, eliminating the need for archaic ways of delivering information.
For example, VoIP allows businesses with multiple locations to send data back and forth between sites securely. The data is secured by a Sessions Border Controller within each network, ensuring it reaches its destination safely.
This direct data transfer eliminates the need for paper communication, saves money on postal services and as you’ll read about shortly, reduces a company's environmental impact.
In the wake of the climate crisis, it’s important for companies to be seen reducing their carbon footprint. The flexibility of VoIP technology has simplified this objective, helping businesses cut back on fossil fuel usage and other damaging practices.
Hybrid and remote working has reduced commute time significantly. This is great for both employee wellbeing and lowering carbon emissions produced by buses and cars.
VoIP systems are also heavily software based, meaning the days of power-sucking servers in a comms cupboard are all but gone. This switch from bulky hardware, to lightweight software has allowed businesses to cut back on resources and lower on-site energy wastage.
The rise of voice communication has given companies a more flexible way of working. They have the option to reduce cost, focus on the environment and at the same time, ensure their workforce is happy, healthy and able to contribute.
Its impact on the business world was always going to be significant, and whether the pandemic accelerated its rise is up for debate.
What isn’t in question though, are the opportunities it has granted for businesses to not only streamline operations, but change the way they operate to benefit everyone involved.