Posted on June 9, 2021 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was provided by Lucas Campbell, a digital marketing manager with experience in that position from traditional and remote office locations.
The world has witnessed a historic shift in the past year because of the nature and scope of the job market thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic. The future of remote work has revealed itself in a short span of time, in a difficult situation for many.
Before the novel coronavirus took center stage many companies used to offer work from home (WFH) as a sort of perk for their employees. However, what was considered a fringe benefit is now the norm for many, if not most business organizations. It is widely considered that within the next few years almost 70 percent of the global workforce will end up working from home or other remote locations.
Many people consider 2020 as a tipping point for remote work where it has become seen as a normal and expected part of the workforce. That year was most certainly not the last we’ve seen of remote work, as the trend has picked up the pace.
Remote Work is Rapidly Becoming Permanent
The percentage of employees working from home has leveled off at about 33% from a high near 70% during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many industry pundits believed that once the pandemic recedes into memory, people will go back to work in their respective offices. However, if current trends are anything to go by, that opinion may not turn out to be true; reality may even prove the opposite, with some predicting continued increases in remote work due to its assocation with increased productivity.
While a few people have gone back to their onsite jobs, either due to necessity or preference, many people are working from home because they enjoy that style of work. It has proven effective for both management and employees across industries.
Productivity levels have not decreased as many analysts had predicted. On the contrary, there is no need to rent out office space, nor is there any need to commute to and from work. As a matter of fact, as per a Gartner CFO survey, almost 75 percent of companies plan on working with the remote work model, even if the pandemic eases anytime in the foreseeable future. Many big companies are leading this change. Both Twitter and Facebook have allowed their staff to continue to work from home indefinitely.
No Need for Extra Office Space
As we see the future of remote work come into focus, the need for massive office complexes may become a thing of the past. One by one, large and small companies will go fully remote, so office space will shift from centralized complexes to many smaller offices in homes or in temporary spaces such as coffee shops and co-working spaces. This decreased demand for office space may allow businesses to cut back on material costs — such as renting floor space and supplying computers and office supplies for workers — which could increase their revenue. We may see that revenue then be used for marketing, industry research, and product development.
This type of priority shift is already happening as, one after another, businesses have started selling their massive office blocks. Companies are also concentrating on the hybrid model where some staff members will report for duty, while others will continue to work from home. Vital machinery will remain operational while retail work will be conducted from remote locations via Zoom meetings, Google Docs, and other work-sharing applications.
It is likely that most in-person meetings will end up being reserved for brainstorming sessions and other work. These might include team-building exercises or even the introduction of new projects. In the long run, the whole of the office might be redesigned to create a more inclusive work atmosphere that would be ideal for collaborative work. It will mean an end to stuffy cubicles, tiny workstations, and the like.
Digital Tools for Remote Working
From Trello to Google Teams, more and more tools have been developed for remote working applications. In fact, the wired internet generation and the arrival of very fast online connectivity have meant that just about anyone equipped with the relevant device can get the job done, easily enough.
These tools make it easy to work from anywhere. Without them, it is likely that the Coronavirus pandemic would have played out much differently with respect to its effect on the global workforce. Working remotely 10 to 15 years ago would have been more difficult for many workers, so we may have seen a more sudden shift from lockdown procedures into a more “normal” state of work where everyone had to return to their offices.
High-speed internet and the availability of collaboration tools lets employees connect with one another through voice calls, video chat, and texting while expecting that they can send large files quickly and edit collaborative documents which are saved on redundant servers, so no information is ever lost. These modern miracles were considered the stuff of science fiction barely a few decades back. Now they all contribute to a remote working experience.
The Future of Remote Work
Remote working is not a one-off experience due to the pandemic. The future of remote work is a reflection of the present. It is here to stay and will continue to persist through the coming years.
If we are lucky, remote work tools will also continue to grow to offer management and employees more freedoms in their jobs. What we have seen during the Coronavirus pandemic is a merging of demand for remote work and the tools that make it possible. Hopefully the future will hold more methods of collaboration so workplace can remain efficient and enjoyable even during the most difficult of challenges.
Posted on June 8, 2021 by Casey Houser
Our VoIP Softphone App for your mobile and desktop devices has undergone a lot of changes in its most recent update.
We already talked extensively about video conferencing in our mobile softphone in a blog earlier this month. Now you can learn more about changes to our collaboration capabilities and screensharing on desktop, among other notable updates.
VoIP Softphone Updates on Android
The largest update to our mobile softphone for Android is what you’ve already previewed in the lead text above: It now supports our Video Conferencing feature.
As a brief recap, you should know that our VoIP softphone app for mobile now lets users start their own video conferences and join other active conferences. You can easily invite other participants through instant messaging within the mobile app, through text messages, or through calendar invites. Playing host to a conference also means you can invite users to participate through a web browser, so customers can also join you even though they don’t use our softphone.
Other notable updates for our latest softphone release include:
Hosts of video conferences have the ability to change the resolution of their call while active with participants. This means they can adjust the quality to assist users with slower connections who will work better with lower-resolution video.
Our VoIP softphone app will now also automatically detect the user’s language settings and set their audio greetings to match that setting.
You will now see the account name on head’s-up notifications related to the softphone app. This will help users identify which account will receive incoming calls.
Power users and developers will also notice improved client tracing. When a user submits a log from their softphone app, they can choose to enter a description of the log which will later be attached to other essential information about the state of the device.
VoIP Softphone Updates for Desktop
The desktop version of our VoIP softphone app runs on Windows and iOS. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that its latest additions include video conferencing, screensharing, and business SMS. A quick look at that linked blog will get you up to speed.
As for its latest updates from June 2021, there are a number of additional features to note.
As with the mobile softphone, the desktop softphone also allows video conference hosts to change the output resolution of the video call. It will also detect the user’s app language setting and adjust its greeting to match that preference.
In addition, the call quality indicator is now present on the host’s screen to show the resolution of video that’s being transmitted. Call encryption (On or Off) is also displayed.
Users will now also see their own listing as part of the Participants list.
On both Windows and Mac, users can now share a single window or their entire desktop.
Users are also given a static screensharing link to share with participants. This URL lets participants view the host’s screen from a web browser, which can be helpful when speaking to customers.
A new preference for desktop softphone users lets them enable echo cancellation. This setting affects headsets and speakers, and it replaces the previous Reduce Echoes From Speakers (AEC) setting.
Add Phone Number to Contact
Users are now also able to use their History panel to add a new contact and add a new phone number to an existing contact. Right-clicking an existing contact opens an Update Existing dialogue that shows this setting.
Try VirtualPBX Softphone on Mobile or Desktop Today
If you haven’t yet started with VirtualPBX, we’re happy to show you a Free Demo that includes use of the VirtualPBX Softphone in action. You can see how these features operate and help improve the manner in which you collaborate with colleagues and assist customers.
Give our Free Demo a try today or download the softphone app for use in your current plan. With access to Video Conferencing, Business SMS, and all the above feature improvements, they’re the best versions of our softphones yet.
Posted on June 3, 2021 by Casey Houser
We’ve been waiting for this a long time, and it’s finally here: Our VirtualPBX Mobile Softphone can connect to video conferences on our platform.
This means you can now take our Video Conferencing feature with you anywhere. It lets you start your own conferences and join those that your colleagues have created – all from your mobile device.
For commuting and remote workers, this development is especially exciting and deserves a few screenshots to showcase the newest parts of our app.
Start Your Own Video Conference
Using the VirtualPBX Mobile Softphone as a video conferencing app is easy. You can begin by creating your own conference from the home screen of the app after you log in.
The dialpad you’re used to seeing now comes with an extra icon that looks like a small calendar. You can find it at the bottom-left of your screen, beside the green phone icon.
Clicking this new calendar icon brings up a list of options. You can start a conference immediately, schedule a conference call, copy your personal conference link to the clipboard, and access your voicemail.
This is the place you will want to go when starting your own video conference. Selecting the Start a Conference option will send you to a new screen where you can further adjust your video call.
So far, you have only entered a conference by yourself. A video conference app doesn’t live up to its potential without other participants, though.
Within the screen of your video conference, you can look to the top of the right-hand side of your screen for a few icons that let you manage your call.
The speech bubble icon lets you type a message to meeting participants. Next to it, the icon of multiple people lets you see your meeting’s participants in a list and will let you invite new members. Clicking that second icon will open a screen that looks similar to this:
The meeting shown here only has one member, the host, but clicking the plus sign in that section will open a list of the contacts saved in your softphone.
When you select a contact from your list, it will send them a direct message with the link they can click to immediately join your call.
You will also see in the next section of this article that you have the option of copying the meeting URL to your clipboard. Once copied, you can paste it into a calendar link for your entire team or or an individual non-softphone user. The link allows participants to join your meeting from within a web browser — opening your conference to colleagues and customers alike.
Adjust Call Features
Now that you have a few colleagues in your call, you might want to adjust how your video conference app controls the meeting.
You can access the list of options shown here by clicking the ellipses icon shown at the top-right of your conference screen. Most of the selections here are self-explanatory, so we won’t discuss all of them outright.
However, we do want to point out a few select features.
- You can record the audio of your meeting from your softphone to capture important information you want to refer to later
- You can also lock the meeting to keep it limited to the members who are currently active in your call.
- The Video Layout option lets you choose between a variety of ways you can view your video and the video of the other participants.
- Selecting the Stop Video option will turn off video capability for the entire call. Otherwise, you can always choose to toggle the sending of your own video stream within an active call.
New Call Settings
The Settings menu in your softphone, which is available by clicking the gear icon in your main menu, now includes a Conference sub-menu so you can adjust your conference preferences.
You can require a PIN for your meetings, which will help secure your calls from any uninvited visitors.
You also have the option to adjust when your conference room becomes active. Video conferences can remain closed until the host – yourself – joins the call, or they can stay open for anyone to join at any time.
Start Using Your Video Conferencing App
We have built the VirtualPBX Mobile Softphone with video conferencing to join voice, video, and texting in one application for all your business communications.
As a video conferencing app, it can be used from the office and from your home. You can take it with you during a commute or while running an errand. Now no matter where you’re at, you can join important video meetings during your workday, so download the Softphone App today and give it a try.
As of the printing of today’s blog, our Android app is able to use video, and our iOS app will be updated soon.
Posted on May 28, 2021 by Charlie Galaviz
Business phone system integrations unite the tools you use everyday to help your team work smarter, not harder. They help you automate recurring tasks, streamline processes, and improve the performance of your business.
Today’s VirtualPBX 5 blog will show you five integrations we offer that will improve your team’s productivity and enhance your workflow.
Our Zapier Integration is one of most powerful integrations for business use. Find your productivity super powers by integrating your phone system to over 3k business apps. Simply select an app like Slack, Hubspot, Shopify, or Mailchimp; then choose a pre-built workflow template or create your own. There’s no code required, so anyone can easily start automating.
Keep track of your business activity by sending call analytics to Google’s apps. Select from a suite of apps such as Sheets, Calendar, and Gmail. For example, you can send your call info to a Google Sheet to track sales team call frequency, discover call trends, and improve KPI tracking. Integrating your call data with Google is something every business should consider.
Access, store, share, and playback audio recordings all within Dropbox. Not only can you save important calls for regulatory or training purposes, but you can record video conferences with your VirtualPBX Phone Plan and save your recordings directly to Dropbox.
The VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone + Salesforce CRM Integration is a combination that every sales team should have in their tool bag. It helps you track and nurture leads from the convenience of your phone system. Click-to-call leads, input call outcomes, schedule follow ups, and more. Plus, you can view customizable reports to track lead call activity and other KPIs.
Need long-term storage for call recordings, faxes, and voicemails? Our Amazon Web Services integration offers security and dependability for your call data. When files are uploaded to AWS, they will no longer exist in your VirtualPBX account. Plus, if you need to store large volumes of data you can purchase additional storage through AWS.
Find your Automation Superpowers
As the evolution of the office happens, it’s more important than ever to have tools that maximize operational efficiency. VirtualPBX makes business automation easy. Save time, improve your workflows, and get results quicker all from the convenience of your business telephone system.
Posted on May 26, 2021 by Casey Houser
It’s always great to announce that our company has been honored by the communications industry. Today we’re happy to say that we have won the 2021 Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award from TMC for the development of our VoIP Phone Plans.
As an addition to the other accolades we have received for our phone plans, this award reinforces the idea that we’re finding success with businesses of all sizes. We’re catering to their communications needs as companies, and in particular as noted for the 2021 Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award, we have met the needs of remote workers as the demands of the global market change.
Evolution of the Workplace
We have all seen the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in our personal and professional lives, and in large part our reaction for our business clients has been to make it even easier to complete work from any location, as our COO, Lon Baker, explains in his reaction to this award win.
“As a company, what we take away from this award is a sense of accomplishment as it relates to the way businesses have evolved over the past year,” Baker said.
“The pandemic has affected us all. For our business customers, we know many of them were urged into remote work situations, so we responded with new features like Business SMS and Video Conferencing ahead of schedule. We wanted to make it possible for our existing customers to make the transition to remote work and for future customers to find our VoIP plans accessible for that reason.”
“It’s great to see, from the 2021 Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award, that we have responded well and can continue to offer these features as more companies adopt work-from-home policies.”
Commentary From TMC
TMC noted in its award announcement that companies are selected for the 2021 Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award based on their development of products and services that are innovative in a remote work context.
Our own Business Phone Plans were selected, said TMC CEO Rich Tehrani, because we offer a product that lets remote workers grow their businesses and be productive outside the traditional office atmosphere.
“Congratulations to the 2021 TMCnet Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award winners,” Tehrani said. “The recipients of this award are recognized providers and developers of software, applications, devices, and other solutions that empower remote team members to flourish.”
More than just a plaque on our virtual wall, we know that this award win honors our past and guides our future. Remote work will not dissipate as the global pandemic becomes controlled; nor will our new and existing phone plan features cease to be useful as the environment changes.
We see a lot of attention for texting, video, and voice in our phone plans, and we plan to continue refining those options as businesses adapt to the needs of their markets and their own customers.