March 3 2017 Digital OfficeVirtual office communication tools let you run your business from the beach. Even when you love your work, it’s hard to get up and at ’em during the cold winter months. Shoveling snow, scraping ice off your windshield, shivering until your car heater finally kicks in — it’s enough to make you want to fly south for the winter like a bird or a retiree. With the right virtual office communication tools in place, you can. Cloud-based solutions such as a virtual phone system enable small-business owners and their employees to work from anywhere they can get an internet connection, which is almost anywhere these days. Here are some ideas: A Beachside Cabana Even if you don’t have time for a vacation, you could run your business from a tropical location using virtual office communication tools. Just picture it: Rather than looking at gray skies through your office window, you’re enjoying the beach view and the warmth of the sun on your skin while being waited on hand and foot. It’s a work day, and it’s time for your afternoon conference call with your team. So, you pull out your business phone and dial into the video conference bridge. You’re thousands of miles away (and the envy of everyone on the call), but you’re just as connected as if you were just down the hall. Of course, you’re not, so once the call is over, you can summon your waiter and order another plate of tacos — you deserve it. A Southern Vacation Maybe you can’t spend the winter somewhere tropical, but you probably could take an extended business trip to a warmer climate — or, better yet, take a vacation. You could go to Mardi Gras (the food will warm you right up), take the kids to Disney World, or cruise through the Florida Keys. Over half of Americans didn’t take all their vacation days in 2015, according to Project Time-Off. The top two reasons survey respondents failed to use their paid time off were fear of returning to a mountain of work (37 percent) and concerns that no one else could do their job (30 percent). For small-business owners and their leadership teams, those concerns are likely even stronger. If fear of being disconnected is keeping you from getting the change of scenery you need this winter, simply take your business phone with you and be as connected as you want to be. If you have a cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system, your employees and customers can reach you the same way they always do. Customers get the same prompts and company directories. Your team can forward calls to you just as easily as if you were in the next office, and your outgoing calls identify you with the business name, not your personal number. The customer’s experience is consistent down to your voicemail, which is okay to use. The point of vacation is to actually take a vacation, so don’t be afraid to turn your phone off sometimes, too. A Home Office Can’t travel this winter? No problem. Avoid the cold by staying home when the weather is particularly nasty. With virtual office communication tools, you can work from home as easily as you can in the office. All you need is an internet connection and some productivity tips for telecommuting, and you can spend cold winter days bundled up in your favorite blanket with a cup of hot cocoa in one hand and your business phone in the other. Whether you’re jetting off to somewhere with consistent double-digit temperatures or staying within the comfy confines of your home, virtual office communication tools can enable you to stay both productive and connected. Speak to a Vonage Business consultant to learn more about virtual office communication tools for your small business. Taylor Mallory Holland Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing. Linkedin | Twitter February 6 2017 CloudCloud solutions for business allow employees to work from anywhere. Hiring is a lot like dating after 30: It seems like most of the good ones are already taken, and competition is fierce for talent that’s still on the market. And it can be hard to meet new people, unless you expand your search beyond those in close proximity to you. Cloud solutions for business help to solve these challenges. By making the workspace increasingly mobile, cloud communications enable employers to widen their searches, find and hire the best people for the job, and retain those employees by offering something more and more people now want — the ability to work from anywhere. Downshifters, Dads, and Disabled Workers Fortune predicts that as more millennials mature into the next stage of their lives, they will soon be leaving cities in droves, opting for suburban or even country living. Add to that the tens of millions of people who already live in rural America, and you’ve got an enormous talent pool that may not be within commuting distance to your company offices. However, they are within telecommuting distance. Remote work also appeals to parents, many of whom leave the workforce because they want to spend more time with their families or because the cost of childcare now amounts to an extra mortgage payment. Providing these caregivers with the technology and flexibility to work around their lives opens up a huge, untapped market of job candidates who might otherwise opt out of full-time work outside of the home. Telecommuting has also created new job opportunities for disabled individuals, for whom traveling to an office might be difficult or even impossible. With the ability to work where they’re most comfortable, they can be just as productive and innovative as anyone else on your team. Of course, this is not the extent of those who’d appreciate the opportunity to work remotely. Most everyone is yearning for a greater work/life balance these days, and they’re increasingly looking for employers who will help them achieve it. Finding the Right People Smart leaders don’t want to hire just anyone. They want to hire people who are not only qualified for the job, but also bring enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to their work. Depending on a business’ location, this can be challenging. In smaller towns, the talent pool is often limited, particularly for highly specialized jobs. In larger cities, there are more professionals, but also more businesses seeking to hire them, many of which offer salaries and perks your company might not be able to match. Location doesn’t matter for companies that hire remote workers. Not only can they hire from anywhere, but they also have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting top talent. For example, Jenny Collister, founder of the Reef & Rainforest travel agency, said she believes that successful travel agents must be passionate about travel and adventure (translation: the kind of people who don’t like to stay in one place). To attract these wandering souls, she offers the balance and flexibility of being able to work from home or on the road. With a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system and mobile app, her agents can even help customers plan trips while on trips of their own. “I like offering flexibility to my staff,” Collister said. “Some employees embrace it, and others like more structure, so we try to maintain a balance that ensures that our customers are fully served during work hours and often beyond.” The Value Equation Having a remote workforce doesn’t just help companies find and hire the best talent, but studies confirm how productive these employees can be. For employees, working remotely can help meet their professional and personal priorities. There are some employees, particularly millennials, who may value work/life balance and flexibility more than a big paycheck. With the high cost of daycare, some parents may offer to work for less if they can work from home. Of course, remote workers should expect to be valued and compensated as any in-office employee would. But the remote work model sometimes offers negotiable flexibility that can appeal to both employer and employee. Mark Krassner, founder of Knee Walker Central, has built a successful business with a team of remote workers spread across the country—all of whom are tied together by a hosted VoIP phone system. This arrangement affords employees an attractive level of flexibility. In fact, several of them have relocated their home offices without missing a beat. With cloud solutions for business, all workers need is an internet connection in their new location, and they’re up and running. Krassner also points to how productive his remote team has been for the company. So yes, hiring these days can be a lot like dating. However, there’s one big difference: In the case of hiring, long-distance relationships actually do work. Speak to a Vonage Business consultant to learn more about cloud solutions for business. Taylor Mallory Holland Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing. Linkedin | Twitter Not all business VoIP phone service providers are alike – Vonage is used by over 375,000 people for business calling. If you’ve been comparing VoIP companies and are confused about who’s the best for your business, these four major differences should give you more of an idea why Vonage is the best provider for small and mid-sized businesses. Residential vs. Business First of all, Vonage Business only provides service for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). We decided early on that we wanted to focus our business model on helping SMBs grow, which is why we target our offerings to business-class services. This doesn’t mean that if you work from a home office that we won’t work with you – we will! We partner with offices and organizations to make sure that we’re focused on delivering the best commercial services for retail, restaurants, offices, NPOs, warehouses, distribution centers, call centers … you name it. Service Vonage Business started from a small office in midtown Atlanta and grew rapidly – so much that in 2014 we made the move to our new headquarters. This puts us in the unique position to understand the issues facing SMB’s from a personal level. We pride ourselves on providing an in-depth knowledge base site so customers can immediately find answers to questions about setup or adding features. Our customer care team is well versed not only in our products, but also in VoIP technology and is available if customers need support. Innovation Part of the reason that Vonage consistently rolls out new included features and add-ons is because of our in-house engineering team and also because of our proprietary technology. We built the system that we use to provide your VoIP service – providers in our space mostly rely on open-source or leased technology which either limits or slows down their ability to create customized plugins and features. No Annual Contracts We don’t require our customers to sign a restrictive contract. We want them to stay with us based on their satisfaction with our service. Thousands of customers have been with us for years because of our ability to allow them to telecommute, use analytics and reporting tools to measure call data, customize their system with Virtual Receptionists and Call Queues and much more. We believe in being a resource to help grow your business – not hold you back. Are you interested in getting a free quote or speaking to a Vonage Business rep about how we can help power your business? Fill out the form to the left, or explore our site to see how easy signing up can be. Small business PBX phone systems today are wildly more sophisticated compared to their humble roots back in the early 2000’s. And when you compare hosted VoIP services to a traditional service that you’ve probably grown used to, there’s really no comparison. Sure you’ll still get business-class features with both a VoIP and an analog, hard-wired system but you’ll also greatly reduce your ability to present a unified appearance, telework, customize your system and more. Here’s a quick comparison of a conventional PBX system and a unified communications system using a small business PBX with Hosted VoIP. Small Business PBX Traditionally, a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) was a physical telephone switching system that managed incoming and outgoing calls for a company’s internal users. The small business PBX was a physical piece of hardware stored at the business, and was connected to phone lines to automatically route incoming calls to specific extensions. It also shared and managed multiple lines. A typical in-house business PBX system included external and internal phone lines; a computer server or electronic console that managed call switching and routing; and a console for manual control. The PBX itself was not easily customizable, and any changes to extensions, additions, or feature upgrades required a maintenance person from the phone company to come to the business. Cloud Based Small Business PBX A hosted PBX can do everything a traditional small business PBX can do and more. It performs the switching and connecting of Voice over IP as well as landline calls. However there is no physical PBX equipment (except for the phones and perhaps a small router) to store at your location. All the features and functionality of your phone system are delivered over the Internet. Businesses can manage their own systems, without having to wait for a maintenance person to come to their location. Plus, you can use IP phones or softphones (which don’t require any phone hardware beyond a computer and a microphone headset). With a cloud PBX, you can connect employees all around the United States with the same phone system using the same extension setup and the same area code. You have an expanded ability to telework with work anywhere features and 24/7 online portals, and you also have the ability to fully customize your extension settings and add or remove features at any time. Moving Beyond the Basics Small businesses also require specialized features to support their particular workflows. With a traditional PBX, businesses had to pay for individual features, as well as for the minutes of phone usage, on top of buying the physical PBX itself. With a hosted PBX, you get unlimited calling for a flat monthly rate, all the features your business needs are included, and there’s no PBX equipment to buy. If your business does want to add an advanced feature like Call Monitoring, it’s as easy as simply calling Vonage Business Customer Support department. Instead of having to configure each employee’s phone like in the old days, advanced features automatically work (once configured) for each designated extension on a small business PBX account. Are you ready to learn about how Vonage for small business is a PBX option that can help your office expand or work from anywhere? Get a quote today! In the past, phone systems required the purchase of equipment, wires, and possibly even a room by itself to hold everything. Standard office phone systems were complicated and costly… until now. Vonage Business’ hosted PBX service, ideal for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), is the next best thing in business communications. Many Fortune 500 companies have intricate, complex phones systems that cost a fortune every month. Long distance charges are expensive and with extra features service can certainly add up. Conversely, Vonage’s hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) service is great for smaller businesses. Economical and flexible, Because our Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system is so economical and flexible, more and more SMBs are making the switch from traditional land lines every day. Hosted PBX Service Built for SMBs At Vonage, you don’t have to compete with larger corporations or homeowners for our attention. We strive to make your small to mid-sized business a success. Consider our knowledgeable team a division of your communications and IT departments. Offering live customer support 24/7, our consultants give you their undivided attention and lend their expertise to customers who have questions or need technical support. Vonage Business has made significant strides in the industry since being founded in 2006, and we’re proud to be the leader in hosted PBX service. Vonage is one of the only hosted PBX companies that owns its own technology. That means we’ve developed our award-winning system completely in-house, so our engineers and developers know the system backwards and forward. Many other hosted PBX systems are built on open source technology, meaning that the code was developed by third-party developers not affiliated with the company. Work Anywhere with Hosted Technology So what exactly does hosted PBX service include? At Vonage, we host all equipment off site in the cloud, so you don’t have to buy PBX hardware or find the space to accommodate it. Unlimited extension plans allow you to make unlimited calls nationwide for a low flat monthly rate. Included in every unlimited extension plan are all the features that a small business needs to communicate professionally. You also get the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere, allowing your employees to travel or to work from home. Vonage doesn’t charge installation fees, and doesn’t try to lock customers down with contracts, or proprietary phones that only work with our service. Our #1 goal is to help businesses grow, because when you succeed, so do we. Successful small businesses don’t stay small forever, and when expansion opportunities come to light, they’re difficult to ignore. Office space, technology and even phone systems need to be reevaluated to accommodate new employees and growing demand for products and services. Thinking “Outside the Office” From a rapidly expanding sales force to new satellite offices or even offering employees the much-valued perk of being able to work from home, using a cloud-hosted business phone system allows for full office functionality from any location. By utilizing the Work from Anywhere feature, employees can simply plug in their IP phone at their location, or easily go mobile with the Vonage Business Mobile Apps. Managers and business owners can use features to view individual call times or monitor sales and customer service calls for any user, no matter where the location. Keeping an Eye on the Bottom Line Maintaining revenue streams and overall budget is one of the biggest priorities for small business. Fortunately, Vonage Business are specialists in providing the best business phone options to small and mid-sized businesses, including: No annual contracts. Vonage Business customers choose to stay because of the excellent, reliable service and affordability. Low-cost price plans. A range of plans and options are on offer to fit small business parameters. Top-of-the-line support. The system is easily self-managed through the Admin Portal, and our live customer and technical support pros are there when you need them. Preparing for Easy Future Expansion One of the downsides of selecting a traditional, copper wire telephone service is that adding new lines, moving offices or accessing important calls from outside the office is often difficult, time consuming and expensive. Technicians need to be called in for wiring and maintenance, causing downtime and lost revenue. With the Vonage business phone system, handling events such as adding a new line are easily addressed directly through the Admin Portal. To find out more about how Vonage Business can support small business, fill out the form for a no-hassle quote or call 1-877-862-2562 to speak to a friendly representative. As all business owners know, making savings where you can is one of the most crucial things you can do. However, cutting costs at the expense of successfully managing your business can actually do more harm than good. Fortunately, saving on your office phone system these days isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. By taking a look at technology such as cloud-hosted or VoIP service for your business phone needs, you can grab onto significant savings for your company. So where do you start? Ditch That Copper-Wire Service. One of the most traditional types of phone service is through copper-wire, and chances are this is the type of system you are already most familiar with. While these systems are considered fairly reliable, they also come with a host of drawbacks such as expensive equipment to purchase, technician set-up and call out fees and even a contract that can tie you down for several years. Most small to mid-sized businesses who opt for a copper-wire office phone system will likely find themselves with an enormous financial outlay, and very little chance of getting the customization that they require to run and grow their businesses. Move to the Cloud. Though the name might make you think it’s in the sky somewhere, cloud-hosted and VoIP systems are actually run via your high-speed internet. Providers, such as Vonage Business, host your office phone’s nerve center. This provides your business unrivaled access to new customizable features and dramatically reduced pricing. Compare, Compare, Compare. There are many VoIP office phone providers in the marketplace, but the quality of their products, customer support systems and pricing structures can vary. When you’re looking at the competition, ask yourself the following: Q: What kind of contracts are required? A: Vonage Business has no annual contracts. Ever. Q: What features are included in the plan? A: There are over 40+ standard features to help manage your business and increase your productivity with Vonage Business. Q: What kind of international rates can be expected? A: Vonage’s international rates are up to 75% lower than traditional carriers. Take a look at our rate calculator to find out more. What about costs? Cost might seem like the most important thing when searching for an office phone plan. However, it’s also essential to think of value alongside price. If targeting the lowest price means having to sacrifice top-notch customer and technical service or a less reliable business phone system, it could actually end up being detrimental to your bottom line. If you’re ready to see how Vonage Business can help cut your business phone bills, simply fill out the form above and one of our friendly reps will call you. When our customers first hear about our “no annual contracts” policy for our top-of-the-line business VoIP systems, it’s usually met with surprise. This is particularly true among customers who have been dealing with traditional copper-wire business phone solutions, which often require contracts that last at least a year or more. Expensive, lengthy contracts are business as usual for wire-based legacy systems. However, the cloud revolution has made the shackles of long contracts, expensive equipment and service call-outs a thing of the past. In short, the cloud is a business phone revolution. Why No Annual Contracts? We believe in our service and products. When you sign up for your cloud-hosted service with Vonage Business, we know you’re going to love it. We want our customers to stick around because they’re delighted with what we provide, not because we’ve trapped them in a long-term contract. Our features are top of the line. We’ve built a second-to-none phone system that’s feature rich, making it easy for your company to grow and succeed. Even our most basic packages come with over 40+ mission-critical features. We’re always developing new and exciting features and plug-ins for our customers – all hosted in the Vonage Cloud. Reliability is our specialty. Keeping your business running and on target is a primary concern, particularly when it comes to your phone system. Vonage Business’ cloud-hosted business phone system is one of the most reliable in the industry. From bad weather to unexpected emergencies, not even an internet outage can keep you from fielding your customer’s calls quickly and efficiently. Our customers save 30% or more on their bills.* Many business phone service providers, at first glance, appear to offer great savings. However, oftentimes this is because they lock you into a lengthy, multi-year service contract. Wondering why Vonage Business offers business VoIP services with no contracts? If you’re not happy with us, we don’t want to trap you into a huge commitment. It’s true – we offer no annual contract business VoIP that our 36,000+ customers use and love every single day. These thousands of business owners are working hard to build a business and we want to be their partner in success. If you’re in the process of starting up a small business, telephone systems might be the last thing you’re thinking about as an office necessity. However, traditional business phone systems are not only costly, but incredibly complicated. At Vonage Business, we understand the challenges of starting – and maintaining – a small business. That’s why we’ve built an easy and affordable small business telephone system that you can consider without developing a migraine. No Annual Contracts Required We offer month to month phone service with unlimited calling¹, and business grade features included standard. Not only are our small business telephone systems affordable, but they are easy to manage and highly customizable. There is no required equipment to buy other than the phones themselves – you merely subscribe to get all the features of a full-fledged business telephone system. What’s more is that any changes to your account can be made quickly and easily from a user friendly web-portal. No maintenance person will ever have to come to your office. Vonage supports the growth of small businesses. We are more than a service – we are your communications division. With small business telephone systems from Vonage, you get more than just calling service. We provide features that will become indispensable to your business like Voicemail to Email, “Work from Anywhere”, Virtual Receptionist, Call Forwarding and more that all come standard with unlimited flat rate calling. Unparalleled Mobility Looking for small business telephone systems that go wherever you go? Vonage Business is a leading Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that travels when you travel. As long as there is a broadband connection, there is a telephone connection. And these days, there is a broadband connection on virtually every corner, hotel room, conference center, vacation home and business center. More important than portability is the fact that Vonage is affordable. For a low monthly fee, you can enjoy our most popular business features and long distance calling, all without an annual contract¹. We offer month-to-month service to ensure that our customers stay with us because they want to, not because they have to. Are you ready to get a free quote for business telephone service? Get in touch and one our helpful VoIP reps will tell you everything you need to know about setting up a practical system for your office. ¹Reasonable Use Policy applies. Additional charges may apply for international usage and for certain features/services not expressly included in your monthly plan. Customer Quick Clips Decentralized Teams “Work from Anywhere” With the “Work from Anywhere” feature, our hosted PBX technology keeps employees connected to full phone system functionality when they’re on the go– wherever they have an internet/ broadband connection. Vonage Business phone service is delivered over the Internet, and IP phone connections are registered by an IP (Internet Protocol) address, rather than a physical phone jack in the wall. This means that the IP phone will register correctly regardless of which Internet connection it’s plugged into. Employees can take their IP phones home or on the road with them, and make and receive calls as if they were in the office. With hosted PBX, our business VoIP system allows employees to take their phone home, transfer calls to their cell phone, or even set up their extension to ring multiple phones at the same time. Many employees prefer to access phone system features on their mobile phone via the Vonage® MobileConnect app for Android™ and iPhone® (now updated for iOS 10!). How Can Hosted PBX Keep Me Connected? For employees who don’t want to take their desk phone with them, our Call Forwarding and Never Miss a Call features enhance the “Work from Anywhere” flexibility. From Vonage’s Online Portal, it’s easy to forward an extension to a mobile number. Business calls to a company extension can be forwarded to a cellphone seamlessly, and still retain the phone system functionality. This means that our hosted PBX service transfers calls that can go to company voicemail, or another extension within the company. Who Uses “Work from Anywhere”? Many businesses can benefit from the “Work from Anywhere” feature. Real estate agencies, insurance agencies, and construction firms have expressed that this feature is particularly valuable to the way they do business. Employees can easily work from home or on the road, with no interruption in their communication with clients and colleagues. Did we answer your question of “what is hosted PBX?” or “how can it help me work anywhere?” If not, or if you’re ready for a quote, fill out the form on the right, or just give us a call at 1-844-324-0340.