COVID-19 UPDATE - Work at home options for SIP trunks explained

For Clients with SIP trunking, there is a lot of flexibility to how you transition to a work at home model. There are many factors to consider – the solutions presented here will indicate suggestions for methods and could be customized to work with your existing systems. This is not about being opportunistic. It’s about education, and enabling our Clients to continue to operate their businesses where possible from home or other remote locations. We understand that we are only relevant as long as we are helping our clients.

Note for Hosted Phone specific options please see the related article.

The above video contains this same message and may be easier to share with those who need the information

SIP Trunk users probably know who they are... They run their own phone system, and connect to companies like BitBlock for their PSTN (or "dialtone") - a simplified model is:

< PSTN – World Wide Telephones > --- < BitBlock > --- SIP trunks --- < Client Phone System > --- < Client Phones >

Working from home or remotely might be as simple as moving your phone. But, for many systems utilizing SIP trunking, it might entail some setup, or alteration of your existing configuration.


Soft Phones on Your System

In many cases, your own phone system is capable of connecting (through hardware, software, or a combination) to Soft Phones. One challenge with this approach is that it does depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your network, router, firewall, etc.
  • Your own Internet connectivity
  • Electrical power at your site
  • Continued operation of any on premise systems
  • Software licenses, cost, and setup

In some cases, this may be the easiest first step, and could be very cost effective depending on the costs of implementation. These solutions are completely out of our control however, and supporting you in this effort is largely limited to ensuring the reliability of your existing trunks. Effects like congestion (caused by general internet issues or remote access to your corporate network) could affect soft phone and general telephone operation. We will of course make every effort to detect these cases, adapt your configuration, and offer advice.

Soft phone licences MAY be a simpler approach. However, depending on vendor details, costs, and implementation work this solution could be more expensive than other alternatives presented below.

Please keep in mind, enabling these soft phones can dramatically increase the complexity of your network, and rushing changes could place your network and greater system stability at risk.  Consult with your IT / Telephone contractor to create a plan. Use backups to ensure you have a roll back point for changes.



Hybrid Solutions – Combining your System with Ours

One difficulty in considering a migration to external soft phones, is in situations where your office may continue to have staff in-house while staff may be working outside as well. While complicated, when analyzed, there are simple ways to implement the required functionality.

As we route calls to your system, our phone systems can become part of your call flow. For example, this could mean enabling a menu or voicemail box, or one or more soft phones. None of these changes are permanent (no contract), and can integrate with your own system in a variety of ways.

  • Calls FROM your system to the outside world can be unaffected (we can add new direct numbers for your outside staff to enable in-office users to call them – in-office extensions could be forwarded to those numbers to allow people dialing by extension internally to reach the intended party)
  • Calls inbound can be prompted to access your internal system OR continue to the internal system – this could facilitate external departments being reachable on your existing number. For example:
    • Thank you for calling XYZ co. As part of our strategy to facilitate social distancing, we have implemented a work at home strategy.
      • Press 1 for the new external phone system
        • More options like departmental menus, live answering from home, etc. can be enabled
      • Press 2 to reach someone still working on site

A system like this could run in parallel with your internal system, and be collapsed when you re-open your main office.


Soft Phones on Our System.

Some teams might not need to worry about receiving calls as much as returning them. If your existing system has voicemail and some sort of notification system (email, text, or just regularly checking) you could manage call backs from a soft phone on our platform while maintaining your brand, call display etc.

For many people the simple act of maintaining call display is the key feature as some people might only answer calls they recognize, and possibly more importantly, calling clients from a cell phone or home phone could “leak” your personal information. This could result in people calling you back on your cell phone or home phone. It could lead to more calls than you could handle or may want. Additionally, it could disrupt the call flow desired for the company.

In our case, we have strived to ensure callers reach us on our main number. This ensures minimal interruption dealing with an active call (due to other methods of contact like text or phone calls direct to cell etc.).



What if you don’t currently work with us?

We can still help. Soft phone can be used regardless. New numbers can be assigned (i.e. regardless if you HAVE a direct number now, we can assign a new one). In many cases, call forwarding from your existing system can be facilitated.

If you need help enabling your business continuity plan reach out to us? There’s a form below, or call us?

We look forward to helping you ensure business continuity.