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In our data-intensive, smartphone-laden world, personal communications revolve around texting, emojis, memes and social networking. Using a phone is, well, decidedly passé for some. There are even memes about it. But any business owner knows that voice – actual, real conversation! – remains the lifeline of any going concern.

To keep collaboration on track between employees, partners and customers alike, businesses still need to make voice calls, still need those PBX bells and whistles, still depend on voice conferencing, and still make call-center functionality an essential element of every business day.  But these core experiences need not be static and staid. Today, traditional voice services are being delivered in new ways to help businesses better respond to the needs and behaviors of increasingly mobile and socially-connected workforces and customer bases, which are themselves becoming more and more distributed over time.

Here are three ways a future-thinking phone system puts voice front-and-center while supporting converged, digital ways of working:

1. Looping in the Distributed Workforce

It’s anticipated that over the next few years, 50% of all employees will be working remotely, be it from the road or in a static telecommuting configuration, according to Global Workplace Analytics. As for the latter, last year alone, about 3.9 million U.S. employees worked from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005. For those of you feeling calculator-challenged, that’s a 115% increase.

Or consider this: The same study shows that, in more than half of the top U.S. metro areas, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice; and, it’s grown far faster than any other commuting method.

Rather than having employees use their own home or mobile phones to do their jobs, a virtual PBX phone system gives remote workers access to the same office calling features – call forwarding, four-digit dialing, conference bridges, etc. – no matter where they are. This cloud PBX approach delivers the ability to place and receive calls on a VoIP phone, mobile phone or computer (and seamlessly move calls between devices), all using a single business line identity. For managers, this allows for call tracking and other employee management activities, in the same way they manage workers at a corporate location.

In other words, the office can be anywhere – and today, it’s everywhere.

2. Enriched Voice Collaboration

Voice remains a central communication avenue for business, but it also becomes more powerful when it can be used side-by-side with additional modes of collaboration. A virtual PBX can be part of a flexible, feature-rich unified communications (UC) solution which marries voice with a host of powerful features. For instance, presence and instant messaging can be used to know someone’s status, thus improving the chances of reaching someone by phone. Video calls and desktop sharing can be added for enriched conversations. And users can make use of innovative personal collaboration rooms, where you can invite anyone (external or internal) to the conversation.

3. A Better Call Center

When you combine the twin benefits of a better-supported remote workforce and enhanced, converged UC, a virtual phone system can really shine when it comes to call centers.

A cloud-based approach to voice means that customer service agents don’t have to be tied to the main office — they can answer calls in the queue from branch locations or even at home. And agents can leverage the same UC features, like instant messaging and presence, to augment their voice-based customer service activities for increased customer satisfaction. Imagine taking care of an escalation in the background, messaging with a manager, while still keeping the customer engaged on the phone. These kinds of converged activities reduce call times and improve time to resolution, while allowing agents to deliver a more personalized, differentiating touch.

Clearly, upgrading a business phone system from an aging, premises-based PBX is not just an exercise in replacing one phone system with another – it’s an opportunity to do much more, unleashing productivity within an organization.

If you’re ready to supercharge your voice communications, your TPx representative can help you do just that. Our industry-leading, award-winning UC suite provides a business phone system that supports voice in a way that is decidedly future-thinking, cloud-ready and mobile-native. Reach out today to find out how we can help.