A man using a laptop and a tablet.

Can a cloud solution help the environment? You bet.

Sustainability has moved beyond its buzzword status to become an important part of many companies’ cultures, and many businesses are using a cloud solution to help them achieve their goals. Environmental impact now plays a large part in business decisions and business processes, and the Harvard Business Review found that sustainability gives businesses advantages when it comes to attracting both customers and employees.

Technology, such as cloud business phone systems, can help businesses operate in ways that can lessen their environmental footprints—particularly since cloud systems don’t require cumbersome on-site PBX equipment. In honor of Earth Day, here are three ways cloud phone technology can help your company become more environmentally friendly:

1. Reduce Paper Usage with Paperless Faxes

Every paper fax that is sent affects the environment, since you need an endless supply of paper, seemingly constantly low toner, and a physical fax machine to get the fax from one person to another. With paperless faxes, you can reduce your paper usage and environmental impact by letting your employees send and receive faxes from any device. Your employees can even use paperless faxing to send documents while on the go. You can further decrease your impact by using electronic signatures for contracts and invoices instead of requiring employees and clients to print out forms.

2. Encourage Telecommuting

Every person in your office who switches to telecommuting is keeping a car off the road and reducing emissions. According to a WebEx survey reported on by FlexJobs, if all the workers whose jobs could be completed remotely worked from home even half the time, that would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons annually, save 640 million barrels of oil, and save $20 million a year on gas. The study also found that teleworking improved air quality, saved energy, reduced carbon footprints, and had less of an impact on transportation infrastructure.

A cloud solution makes it possible for remote workers to be just as productive as if they were in the office. Whether they plug their IP office phones into high-speed internet at home, or make calls via handy mobile apps, they can stay integrated within the office phone system wherever they’re working.

3. Use Video Conferencing

In-person meetings requiring air and car travel often happen so that everyone can meet face-to-face, yet driving and flying both have environmental costs. By using video conferencing and collaboration tools instead of in-person customer and employee meetings, companies can save money on travel and help the environment. Video conferencing can also be used to create a virtual classroom so that your employees don’t have to travel to trainings.

While making these changes with a cloud solution may not seem like it will make a huge impact, every little bit counts. And when your customers, vendors, and competitors see the steps you’re taking toward sustainability, they may be encouraged to become more environmentally conscious as well.

Visit Vonage Business to learn more about the environmental difference you can make with cloud technology.

About Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

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A woman sitting at a desk, talking on an office phone.

While they’ve been around for a while, desk phones still meet many business needs.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, this saying really hits home — despite evolution in form, many offices leverage fundamental technology to perform key functions and meet business needs. In other words, old tools and tech are prevalent in offices around the world, for better or for worse.

Here’s a look at six still in use today:

1. Faithful Fax Machines

You read that right. The “beeeee-owwwwww-chkchkchkchkc” sound that haunts your nightmares isn’t gone from corporate culture, it just took on a new form to meet emerging demands. While original versions of the classic fax machine came with a limited capacity to connect and no one could ever quite remember whether the paper was supposed to go in upside-down, print-first, or with a cover page to satisfy the wrathful gods of document dissemination, new iterations elevate the execution but keep the core idea.

Electronic fax solutions let you easily scan or select a document from your computer, then send it to a fax-specific phone number or email address. Either way, the document shows up in email inboxes rather than producing reams of poorly toned paper. Better still? No busy signal. Ever.

2. Dutiful Desk Phones

Ah, the desk phone. Where would Hollywood films about corporate greed be without these unwieldy telecom tethers for protagonists and villains alike to shout at and violently slam down? Here’s the thing: While the form factor has changed slightly to reflect new aesthetic expectations, most companies still outfit the bulk of their workforces with standard desktop telephones. It makes sense: They’re cheap, convenient, and easy to manage. Better yet? New Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions make it easy for companies to shift from traditional copper telephone lines to digital alternatives, allowing them to easily add new lines, forward calls, and opt in mobile devices. Long live the desk phone!

3. Predictable Printers

Of course printers are still a thing. Despite pushes to eliminate paper in many offices, there’s always a need to have hard copies on hand. And honestly, some companies just love having rooms and rooms stacked with full-to-bursting file cabinets.

Basic office printing actually got its start in 1938 thanks to dry ink, static electricity, and flashes of light. Xerography (and eventually print juggernaut Xerox) was the result, and thus began the mad rush toward inkjet and laser printers used around the world. Today, high-speed, low-waste printers are the norm in most offices, but there’s also a real uptick in 3-D printing as this technology goes down in cost and has more viable uses than printing tiny boxes or random pieces of “art.” On the “that’s crazy” side of things, CNet noted that Dubai recently 3-D-printed an entire office building. Okay, guys, maybe settle down a bit?

4. Perennial “Post-Its”

In 1968, a chemist at 3M accidentally created a low-strength adhesive sticky enough to hold but weak enough to be repositioned multiple times. No one cared. However, a church choir member frustrated by too-slippery bookmarks changed everything. Today, Post-It® Brand Notes remain a huge part of office culture — beyond the classic canary-yellow squares, there are bigger versions, tiny tabs, and a host of Post-It paraphernalia. Do they really improve productivity and help meet business needs? Maybe! Are they everywhere? You bet!

5. Cameras and Calculators

No matter the office, no matter the business, you need a camera and a calculator. Pocket calculators are classic desk decorations, while cameras were typically kept by management for special occasions, such as the office holiday card or a bit piece in the local paper. And while film cameras (sorry, Kodak®) along with classic calculators have largely vanished from common culture, they’re not really gone. They’ve just taken on a new form: mobile devices. Every staff member now carries around a powerful computing device-and-camera in one, making it easier than ever to snap a photo or do the math while simultaneously sparking debate about the intersection of social discourse and business use. Speaking of which…

6. Mercurial Mobiles

According to Office Xpress®, the first business-related mobile phone call was made in 1973 from a Motorola® in New York City to Bell Labs in New Jersey. And for 30 years, mobile tech advanced largely outside the workplace — although thanks to the ’80s for those hilariously bad super-brick phones that C-suite executives in suspenders liked to shout into at fancy restaurants — until touch-screen smartphones went from science fiction to reality.

Now, companies are deep in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) deal, trying to figure out where personal and business mobile use collide and where they should stay separate. No matter the ultimate answer, mobile is here to stay, and for many companies, that means rolling smartphones into a solid VoIP plan rather than trying to manhandle mobile into something resembling corporate compliance.

If you have an office, you’re likely using old tech and tools to meet current business needs. Fortunately, there are ways to upgrade these tried-and-true pieces of tech to improve your efficiency — and up your coolness factor.

Ready to learn more about implementing new versions of time-tested tech? Touch base with a Vonage Business consultant.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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A woman replaces ink in fax machine

Replacing outdated technology with more powerful and efficient tools will help your business in a number of ways.

A lot of value is placed on having the latest technology these days — it’s just a fact. All you have to do is look at the lines for the latest phones and gadgets snaking around stores on launch day. As a small-business owner, it’s easy to make do with what you have and keep using dated technology in an effort to save money. However, the reality is that using dated technology is likely costing you money in the following ways:

  • Negative impression to customers: Your customers need to trust you and know that you are delivering the highest-quality products and services. If they see you’re using equipment that may soon find its way onto an episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” it makes them wonder whether you are really an expert and if they should take their business down the street.
  • Lack of productivity: Using dated technology takes extra time, and as you know, time is one of your most precious commodities. By increasing efficiency by upgrading your technology, employees have more time to focus on customers – and the bottom line.
  • Lower employee satisfaction: It’s frustrating — and not a lot of fun — to use old stuff. Every time they’re forced to use – and fix – dated technology, your employees are likely to secretly complain behind your back or feel less engaged with their work.

Here are three dated technologies to consider dragging out to the dumpster or recycling bin:

1. Fax Machine

Step away from the fax machine! Even though purchasing one of these machines was once a rite of passage for becoming a small-business owner, it’s now just a huge smoke signal that you are behind the times. There is absolutely no reason this machine should take up space in your office. Today, the fax machine has gone digital by combining with email and has become more mobile and less reliant on paper. By using a paperless fax service, you can send and receive faxes right from your laptop or mobile device. No paper, no toner (whatever that is), and best of all, no annoying beeps. Each time you get a new fax, it goes straight to your email.

2. Rolodex

It used to be a sign you were successful in business if you had a fat ream of paper cards perched on your desktop. Today, it’s a huge liability to keep your contacts on paper. Customers expect you to respond to their needs very quickly these days, and you need to be able to track down numbers when you need them. By storing your contacts electronically or using secure cloud-based applications, you have access to the phone numbers you need, whether you’re on a smartphone, desk phone, or using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) from an international destination.

3. Answering Machine

Yes, there are still businesses that use answering machines. Every time customers call, they can tell when you have an answering machine — and it screams that you are behind the times. By using a cloud-based business communication system, your customers are greeted with an auto-attendant, calls are routed correctly, and voicemail is stored in a private mailbox or transcribed and emailed to you so that you can read – or listen – to it anytime, virtually anywhere.

Dinosaurs belong in museums or “Jurassic Park” movies. Don’t let them take up space in your office.

Want to learn more about paperless fax and other state-of-the-art technologies? Visit Vonage Business.

About Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

Linkedin  |  Twitter

When you’re in business, keeping costs to a minimum is key. That’s where features like Vonage’s Paperless Fax (also known as Digital Fax) comes in, making it easy to send and receive faxes without the added expense and ongoing maintenance of a traditional fax machine. Also, you’ll never have to stand in line to fax something again, as both you and your employees can have individual fax numbers.

Paperless Fax allows you to receive your faxes on either your desktop or smartphone, eliminating the need to wait around for a promised fax’s arrival. It’s all managed with your voicemail and emails, unified in one inbox. Additionally, Paperless Fax lets you send faxes to your contacts while on the go. It’s a true mobile solution for a traditional element of business.

How It Works

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RecieveFax2

Why You’ll Like It

  • Send faxes from both your mobile or desktop.
  • Give your employees their own fax numbers.
  • Manage your faxes, email and voicemail with a single inbox.
  • Save money on supplies like paper, toner and unreliable fax machines.

Get Started

Setting up Paperless Fax is easy, and can be managed through either the User Portal or Admin Portal. Just log in and follow the steps. This handy feature can be added by going through your Admin Portal or by speaking to a Customer Service representative.

The northeastern United States is preparing for yet another major storm, and we wanted to remind customers about some quick and easy things they can do to prepare their small business telephone service for maximum uptime.

As you may recall from our post during Hurricane Sandy, there are a number of features and options you can modify to keep your phone system up and running – even if your Internet goes down.

We used these settings to keep our entire office operational during the Atlanta snow and ice storm of 2011, and our customers have used these included features to keep their offices running during storms, illness or travel. Whatever’s keeping you away from the office, we have a way to keep you connected.

Top 6 Features to Stay Connected When Out of the Office for an Emergency

Plug and Play Phones: It’s easy to take your phones home with you. Just unplug your phone from your desk and plug it back in to an Internet jack and power source at home.

Call Continuity: What if your Internet is down? In this case, VoIP calls won’t work but you can configure your system to forward all business calls to your cell phone. Just remember, you must set up Call Continuity from your Admin Portal for it to work – be sure to do this while you still have power and access to the Internet.

Vocalocity Mobile: Current customers can download the free Vocalocity Mobile app from iTunes or the App Store for iPhone and Android. It acts as a softphone, enabling you to make outbound calls that look like they’re coming from your deskphone so you can maintain an office appearance. You can also access Never Miss a Call Settings, view your entire employee directory, access voicemails and record custom Out of Office messages.

Virtual Receptionist Greetings: You can change your Virtual Receptionist greetings from the Admin Portal to notify callers of office closures, delays or any other important news. Just log in to the Admin Portal and follow the directions on how to record or upload a greeting from our Support page.

Never Miss a Call: If you’re at the hardware store buying salt to keep your office stairs and walkway safe, but don’t want to miss an important sales call, consider enabling the Never Miss a Call settings. You can configure your desk phone to forward calls to your cell phone, designate a simultaneous ring, and customize a Find Me / Follow me setting to ring several phones.

E911: Link your physical phone to an address so that emergency responders can better find you in the event of an emergency. Learn how to set up E911 with our Support article.

Other Reminders:

  • Our Support Portal is your 24/7 resource for help articles about system settings or configurations
  • If you have a question, our Support team is ready to help you at 1-866-901-0242
  • Follow us on Twitter for service updates, and remember that status.vonagebusiness.com is updated with major system news
  • It’s always a good idea to have a phone list of employees’ personal cell phone numbers and emails so you can communicate office closures or late openings
  • Make your Admin Portal changes while you still have Internet access, in case you lose power
  • While you CAN access the Admin Portal and User Portal from your smartphone or tablet, conserve battery power in case you need to use your cell phone for emergencies

About Dave Morris

Dave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan.

Isn’t it time to get rid of that huge fax machine that’s taking up space? It is 2013, after all. With Vocalocity’s Paperless Fax solution, sending faxes is as easy as sending an email and faxes are received in your inbox as an attachment in either PDF or TIFF format.

Configuring Your Paperless Fax is Simple…

  1. After logging into my.vonagebusiness.com, click the “Faxes” option in the left-hand toolbar after clicking the “Phone System” icon at the main navigation at the top of the page.
  2. Select the fax that you wish to configure.
    • Please Note: If you do not have a fax in your account, contact Customer Care at 1-866-901-0242 to add one.
  3. Select the fax number to assign to this fax.
    • Click the “Add/Remove” button and select a number from the available pool and move over to the “In Use” pool by using the blue arrows.
    • Click the “Update” button.
  4. Enter a fax name; this is usually an employee’s name or a department name.
  5. Enter the desired email address for faxes to be delivered to.Managing Vocalocity's Paperless Fax
  6. Select the delivery format for the incoming faxes. You can choose from either a PDF or TIFF attachment.
  7. Click the “Save” button in either the upper or lower right-hand corner and you’re done!

And Sending a Fax is Just as Easy…

  • To send a fax, log in to the email account you assigned to the fax.
  • Compose a new email. If you send a fax using @efaxsend.com, please click here for more information. If you send a fax using @fax.vonagebusiness.com, please click here for more information.
  • Attach the document you would like to fax to the email. Attachments can be in the form of Microsoft Office 97-2003 files (Word and Excel), image files (GIF, JPG), and PDFs. Faxes without at least one attachment will not be sent.
  • Remember: Faxes must be sent from the same email address that you receive faxes from. Anything in the subject line or body of the email will be sent as a cover page.

You can now say goodbye to expensive toner and paper because you have successfully gone paperless!

About Aaron Charlesworth

Aaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development.

Manage your voice, fax, and email messages from a single inbox in your email client. Unified Inbox comes free with the system as a built-in feature.

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