List everything you've done in the past 12 minutes or so. Assuming you aren't using it to read this article already, checking your phone probably occurs on the list once or twice, just like it did the 12 minutes before that and so on.
According to the New York Post, that's the interval at which we've all been wired to check our smart devices, and almost everyone with a device is consistent in meeting or exceeding the rate. It's a compelling argument for an office phone upgrade that allows employees to use their own devices — they're likely already using their personal devices in some capacity whether policy allows it or not.
Instead of fighting the change, here are just a few reasons businesses should consider welcoming it.
1. Control Over the Change
Let's say two offices, A and B, both struggle with rising incidences of employee smartphone use. Office A outright bans it, threatening — and sometimes even enforcing — harsh consequences for those engaged in shadow IT practices. With the help of IT and legal, meanwhile, office B creates an updated policy defining the whens and hows of employee usage. Just as important, it specifies moments in which the phones should never be used.
That's just one approach to the continued use of smartphones as office phones. Depending on the situation, companies could sandbox certain apps on employee devices or implement a virtual desktop infrastructure, both of which require greater upfront technical investment but allow the organization more control. Every bit of power a company gains in a process like this comes with some level of technical cost, but the result is a BYOD system that keeps everyone happy.
2. A Single Business Identity
Now let's say company B, in tune to the things customers want, decides to implement a business phone cloud system. Suddenly, customers can call or send SMS messages to the same number — and employees can respond — no matter where the employee happens to be. That's quite an office phone upgrade, and it's increasingly easy for businesses to implement it.
Consider the value for distributed businesses and those with employees who spend a lot of time out of the office. In an enterprise environment, for example, an employee responsible for certain IT tasks throughout a subregion becomes easier to reach with an app, with no guessing games as to where they are. Sales reps, trainers, and countless other roles can similarly benefit — whether the app comes installed on a company-owned device or a personal one.
3. Accessibility Regardless of Location
Employees have lives outside the office, and thus have many reasons for wanting to get out while still staying productive. Consider the sales rep who enjoys working from home in the afternoons because she needs a quiet atmosphere to finish a task, or the employee who works a few hours in the evening so he can pick up his kids from school. These sorts of arrangements are common in the working world, and offices are increasingly expected to accommodate.
With smartphones, your employees don't need to be in the office to get their jobs done. The single-number point of contact described above is just one example of the idea — as we all know, collaboration and productivity are rarely contained to business walls, assuming the employer puts the work in to enable it. When the options are that or risk employees doing the same thing anyway, the best path is again quite clear.
Whatever device they choose, employees may ultimately deliver more efficiency when they swap their office phone with a smartphone, with less upfront cost and happier employees on the other end.
4. Video Everywhere
Another office phone upgrade that doesn't get enough love is the ability for on-the-spot, as-needed video conferencing. Today, one employee can be on a mobile network and the other can be on a home internet connection, both using wildly different devices. Yet either can still easily open up a video call to the other, an impressive sign of the times that all too often gets overlooked.
That's a shame, considering the things video makes available. Sure, we all know about virtual meetings, but what about customer service situations? It's easier to explain how to restart the product when you have a visual guide, right? Same goes for employees in the field calling back and asking for help with something — a frozen pipe or complicated wiring concern, maybe. It's all a lot easier with a smartphone in tow, which is a bigger deal than some people might give it credit for.
5. Expanded Revenue Streams
A health clinic wants to offer flu shots but can't find a way to reliably process card swipes the day of the event. An event promoter must turn people away at the door when a customer shows up ticketless. Mobile devices have effectively made situations like these — along with countless others — obsolete in recent years, opening the door to extra revenue for organizations across the spectrum of private sector business.
Of course, what this means for the individual business is largely up to their model and future plans. But whatever device they choose, employees may ultimately deliver more efficiency when they swap their office phone with a smartphone, with less upfront cost and happier employees on the other end. It's hard to imagine another office phone upgrade working the same magic — and that makes the smartphone a viable upgrade for any business looking to redo the office phone.