Posted on February 11, 2021 by Casey Houser
Chapter 1 discussed the nature of remote work and how, in general, it can benefit your business and help employees achieve a greater work-life balance. Now in Chapter 2, we discuss the tips and tricks to hiring remote employees. Even if you’ve hired for remote positions before, this could be a great opportunity to hone your skills when it comes time to add to your team.
What to Look for in a New Hire?
Our vice president of sales, Kevin Peyton, has years of experience leading our sales representatives in both on-site and remote locations. He has been instrumental in helping VirtualPBX find success during the difficult times of the COVID pandemic.
He lends much advice throughout Chapter 2 of Remote Team Management by sharing what qualities he looks for in a remote hire candidate. He notes that a combination of both hard skills and soft skills can reveal what an individual will bring to the company.
Interviews can help reveal an individual’s soft skills, while a resume highlights their history of dealing with workplace tasks like cold calling sales leads.
It’s stressed in our e-book that, in this stage of hiring remote employees, being candid is of the utmost importance. Remote work situations can be unique – especially for people who are new to working off-site. The demands of the position should be on the interview agenda.
Onboarding Can Be Intensive
Peyton stresses that onboarding a remote employee can require heavy use of tools like video conferences.
Typically, onboarding takes place through shadowing, where a new hire will stick by an experienced employee so they can ask questions and learn quickly how daily tasks take shape. Without the ability to physically shadow someone, however, multiple video sessions have to take that role.
Peyton notes that working through typical sales scenarios works well for him during onboarding. Other tactics and strategies are outlined throughout this chapter about hiring remote employees.
Hiring Remote Employees Requires Rethinking
Our Managing Remote Teams E-Book primarily focuses on the role of managers at remote companies. We want to show you what it takes to run a company and its departments without (potentially) ever being face-to-face with your employees.
This might sound like a far-fetched idea, but it can be done, and it can be done well. Many VirtualPBX employees work remotely at all times; several new team members were even onboarded during the pandemic.
We’ve done it right. Now we can show you what we know. Pick up a copy of our e-book today.
Posted on February 9, 2021 by Casey Houser
The VirtualPBX brand name comes, unsurprisingly, from the phrase that explains what type of company we are: a provider of internet-driven business phone service. This means that that you can use our virtual pbx for cell phones and many other types of devices.
Today we’ll recap the differences between a traditional and virtual private branch exchange (a PBX) and show you how your devices, including your personal smartphone, can take advantage of our easy-to-use service.
What is a Virtual PBX?
The primary difference between the style of phone service we provide (a virtual system) and the style of a traditional PBX system is this:
- A virtual PBX is hosted in the internet, so any compatible device such as a desk phone or mobile phone can complete calls through that system by using an internet connection from any location
- A traditional PBX exists as a computer server at a business’s location, so phones that want to use that server to complete calls must be at that location
What this means, of course, for your daily working life is that a virtual system is capable of connecting to your smartphone. For many of our clients, this makes life easier and has allowed them to take their operations remote without any fuss.
A VirtualPBX for Cell Phones
We even have customers that use our phone service for the sole use of making their smartphones capable of sending and receiving calls. How can you use your virtual PBX for cell phones in your own office? There are a few ways we make that possible.
The VirtualPBX Mobile Softphone
Our Softphone App comes in both a mobile and desktop variety. The mobile app that you can download for Android and iOS devices, including your phone and tablet, includes many important features that extend beyond voice calling.
In the past six months alone, we have updated our softphone to use Video Conferencing and Business SMS, which has made it the go-to device for many businesses that are choosing remote work to keep their employees safe but help them stay connected throughout the work day.
Our softphone is able to work on your smartphone because it connects through Wi-Fi or mobile data to your virtual PBX. It takes advantage of that core feature of our system: every phone that can access the internet can reach our phone system.
Our Web Phone works on your smartphone in a different way. It runs in your web browser.
As a virtual PBX for cell phones, our system accepts calls from our Web Phone through a method known as WebRTC. You can read this linked article for a detailed look at the WebRTC protocol and how it handles audio and video.
A summary of WebRTC will tell you that your web browser, probably Chrome or Firefox, understands how to send/receive audio and video. Our Web Phone just tells WebRTC how to act.
You can complete calls using your smartphone with this device because your phone can use Chrome and Firefox. This makes it easy on us because we only have to build a single website that works as a phone. No matter the device you use, you gain the ability to make calls when you connect to our Web Phone through your browser.
It’s also worth mentioning our Call Forwarding feature in this discussion of virtual PBXs for cell phones.
Call Forwarding works through a simple setting inside your phone system dashboard. Admins can make changes for groups of users, and individual users can set their forwarding preferences in their own user portals.
The settings dialogue box looks like the image shown here. You select the Call Forwarding option and enter the phone number where you want to receive calls.
The best thing about forwarding calls is that you can use any device you prefer. Your personal smartphone, for example, doesn’t have to be registered as a device in your VirtualPBX phone plan. The phone number you enter will accept all calls intended for your user in the phone system.
You can even use Call Forwarding in a special failover mode where your calls are only forwarded if none of your other devices are active. If your softphone is the only registered device you use, but today you are logged out, you can rest assured that calls will make their way to your smartphone like you would receive any normal inbound call.
Not An All-or-Nothing Proposition
Part of why our customers enjoy using our virtual phone system is because it’s flexible. You can, if you choose, have your account user register a Softphone and Web Phone, and set up Call Forwarding, so you know you’ll be covered no matter which device you want to use today.
Don’t be discouraged at the sight of all these options. It’s easy to set up with help from our Support staff. In five minutes, you can be set with all your calling needs and have the freedom to use multiple devices that fit your various work locations.
Posted on February 2, 2021 by Casey Houser
All team members at VirtualPBX work remotely at least part-time, and many of us have amassed several decades of work-from-home experience. Our new e-book about remote team management compresses those years of knowledge into a handful of helpful chapters that can be useful to your whole team.
Today we have launched Chapter 1 of Managing Remote Teams – the first in a series that will be offered on our website in the coming weeks. The first chapter discusses the history of remote work and the benefits for businesses that choose full- or part-time remote work environments.
Why Go Remote?
In large part, companies will want to pursue remote work because it can save them money and because it’s accessible. Both those attributes work hand-in-hand to give businesses incentive to let their employees work from home.
There’s a historical precedent to remote work. Did you know that IBM had a large percentage of its workforce working remotely in 2009 and that, during that time, it saved hundreds of millions of dollars annually?
Your own remote team management doesn’t have to mirror IBM’s style. Yet you can take heart that other companies have paved the way and done so with lesser conditions than modern tech now provides everyone.
Benefits of Modern Tech
Since that time, broadband internet access has become more commonplace, and new gadgets like smartphones have taken over the consumer and business landscape. Think about the last time you went without your phone. It has become a part of your life, and your mobility as a worker has improved because of it.
Increased access to digital technologies support what IBM was pioneering in the previous decade. Now any business, large and small, has the ability to go remote because the tools necessary to do so are widespread.
Better Work-Life Balance
Remote work also helps your employees live more fulfilling lives.
Studies show that employees who have the freedom to work remotely are substantially happier with their jobs and their lives overall.
On-the-job performance may also increase when you allow individuals to work from home. Employees often are able to concentrate better and find atmospheres to work that are less distracting and more conducive to completing daily tasks. In this way, remote team management is improved automatically by simply allowing for the change in workspaces.
Bolster Your Remote Team Management
The first key to managing a remote team well is knowing how the history of remote work has taken shape. It pays to be knowledgeable about the ways in which your own company can benefit from remote work’s past.
Our e-book expands on these topics to give you a deeper sense of how work-from-home situations have evolved over the past decade. Within only a few pages, we hope to show you that remote team management can be simpler than you expect and that, no matter your industry or company size, your business, and your employees can benefit from remote work.
Download our e-book today for a quick, convincing read that can get you started in thinking about the switch to a work-from-home culture.
Posted on January 28, 2021 by Casey Houser
Think about your current business phone plan and the restrictions it places on where you can make calls. Do your calls to Mexico and Canada incur an extra charge? If so, your “unlimited” minutes might have a hidden drawback that’s not necessarily uncommon in the VoIP industry.
We’re stepping outside that trend. All “local” calls on VirtualPBX Plans now include Mexico, Canada, and both Hawaii and Alaska. There’s no longer a division in our Business Phone Plans that categorizes those locations as international other than the need to dial “+1” when you make a call to a place outside the U.S.
VoIP and International Rates
One of the long-standing struggles with VoIP plans is that, often, “local” calls are restricted to the lower 48 states in the U.S. This excludes Hawaii and Alaska, and it categorizes Mexico and Canada as international locations, so you’re stuck paying higher fees if you want to reach a business or individual who resides there.
For many businesses, their reaction is to make as few calls as possible outside the contiguous U.S. Yet while this may actually be simple in practice – for instance by limiting your outbound sales calls to 48 states – it can potentially remove important business opportunities from your view.
We live in an international society, but practices in the telecommunications industry haven’t always kept pace with the increasingly global reach of both small and enterprise businesses.
Calls to Mexico and Canada
Think about the expanded reach that the possibility of free calls to Mexico and Canada presents.
You could, as was previously noted, expand your base of contacts for outreach in your sales department. You might also decide to increase your marketing budget to address a different region of North America.
Furthermore, you may also wish to expand your compliment of employees who work outside the confines of the contiguous U.S.
These goals, once limited by your phone plan, are now given support by your phone plan. The addition of local calling areas lets your business expand as if it has no borders.
Growth of Your Team Members
Not only do you now have the opportunity to complete free calls to Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska, the size of your team could grow to meet that ability.
Perhaps you considered hiring a new sales rep who could meet with Hawaii residents in person, but you always backed off that idea because calling anyone in Hawaii always incurred an extra fee. Now that those calls are included in your “local” allotment, your 2021 plans could include a new hire as you always wished it had.
This same logic applies to companies that want to make their presence known to the north or south of U.S. borders. Companies like Persistent Systems work on a global scale that rivals some of the largest companies active today. Persistent’s sites in Canada, Israel, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. show what an enterprise can do with a distributed workforce with a single VirtualPBX Phone Plan that links multiple sites.
Your own business, no matter the size, can now reach further than ever before by taking advantage of free calling across borders. You can keep your headquarters in the U.S. but have satellite sites in Canada and/or Mexico, expanding the reach of sales efforts and the locations of your team.
Of course, you can also work entirely virtually, like a software-as-a-service company might, and still find benefits for reaching out to new customers in locations you had not previously tried.
Reach Out For Assistance
Expansion of a team for making calls to Mexico and Canada, or just reaching our 49th and 50th states, might require that you purchase additional phone numbers to create a presence in those areas. Remember also that all VirtualPBX Plans come with at least two included phone numbers and as many as 15 with our Enterprise Plan.
For any assistance in expanding your plan or updating the phone numbers on your plan, we’re here 24/7 by phone and web chat to help.
Posted on January 26, 2021 by Casey Houser
In response to the growing need for telecommuting tools, we have created the new VirtualPBX Flex Plan. It’s the perfect plan for today’s remote workers.
VirtualPBX COO Lon Baker provides a rundown of Flex’s features and benefits in this short video:
Including Video Conferencing, Business SMS
We created Flex to provide a more accessible way for businesses of all sizes to access our Video Conferencing and Business SMS features – both of which are key in establishing and maintaining an effective remote workplace.
Those enterprise features are normally offered in our Advanced and Enterprise Plans that were created to fit larger businesses. Those plans also come with features for large teams that aren’t always essential for smaller companies that, when considering remote work, primarily want to remain connected with each other rather than, say, operate a call center.
With Flex, we have prioritized Video and SMS while removing other features like ACD Queues and AWS Integration. This has helped us lower the price to one of the most affordable in the industry but still allows us to keep our focus on remote work.
Staying Connected With Unlimited Minutes
Whether you run a small office with a handful of employees or a larger outfit with a team of several hundred, the use of Video Conferencing and Business SMS in Flex will help you stay connected through our remote office phone system.
Flex comes with unlimited local minutes for your voice calls throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. That unlimited allowance extends to video calls and text messages too.
You can complete as many video calls with your team members as you need. Hold your daily meetings using the VirtualPBX Softphone on your desktop or smartphone — which you can download for free — and feel free to bring as many participants as necessary. Video conferences support two to 200 users in a single call.
SMS text messages are also unlimited. These are great for sending quick messages to team members about your status – such as saying “I’m out to lunch!” or “Meeting ran long…” – and can help you connect with customers as you confirm appointments or alert them to a sale on your newest products.
Rely on VirtualPBX Remote Office Phone System
Of course, Video Conferencing and Business SMS are just the highlights of the new Flex Plan. Our remote office phone system also grants you important features like Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, and Zapier Integration for automation of your company data. You can explore all these features in our main Features page.
Let us introduce you to Flex with a Free Demo so you can see everything we have to offer. Register for a Free Demo today; we’ll reach out quickly to set up an appointment time that works for you.