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May 14, 2014
Using Virtual PBX for a Remote Workforce
By Frank Griffin, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Current information and communications technology (ICT) has removed the barriers of time and distance, allowing individuals and organizations to collaborate with anyone around the world. This has introduced many new opportunities for freelance workers and organizations looking to save money by contracting a remote workforce, or providing their employees with options to work from home. A technology that makes this possible is hosted, or virtual, PBX (News - Alert).

Companies that provide virtual PBX manage the hardware and software involved, handling the call routing and switching. With a virtual PBX, the service can be delivered to any location with a broadband connection allowing remote workers to gain access to the same professional communications solutions as in the office. Customers that call these employees get direct access without any noticeable difference.

Since the technology to provide a remote workforce is currently available, the only question left to answer is, why are not more businesses putting policies in place to take advantage of virtual PBX and other solutions?

Any hesitation employers might have for allowing employees to telecommute has been answered by Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University and graduate student James Liang. Their study involved using half the staff of Ctrip's call center, a Chinese travel website cofounded by Liang.

Mr. Bloom was interviewed on Harvard Business Review (HBR) and he said, "The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away." The company expected to save money on space and furniture, which it did with $1,900 per employee for the nine month study, but what they didn't expect was an increase in virtually all other metrics.

Compared to the employees that remained at the call center those working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls, which according to Bloom translates to almost an extra workday a week. The attrition rate was also half of the people working from the office, meaning the at-home workers were presumably happier with their working condition.

Using virtual PBX for remote work is not a panacea that will cure all that ails the work place, but it is an option employers can give to their employees, and according to Bloom, businesses who offer their employees this option attract workers with more talent.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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