Do you need a phone solution that offers the flexibility to make and receive all business calls, without disruption or downgraded performance? The COVID-19 pandemic has left many companies with no choice but to instruct staff to work remotely or from home. As we settle into this new norm, the challenge for some organizations is the ability to maintain productivity and meet client needs with the tools they already have. For many, the solution can be found in their Cisco Unified Communications phone system.
In this article, we outline some of the key features of Cisco phones that are helping remote employees to maintain productivity.
Single Number Reach
Single Number Reach (known as Cisco Mobile Connect) rings your cell phone simultaneously with your desk phone. It also directs the call back to a corporate voicemail if unanswered. This setup is helpful to ensure direct and hunt group (a group of people set up to take incoming calls) related calls are getting to a user’s mobile device. This feature supports time-of-day configuration, meaning you can set a schedule that only works during business hours, enabling more flexibility than just call forwarding. Note: the Single Number Reach solution requires configuration on the back end of your system for each user.
Most systems are already set up to allow call forwarding, which can be done on a user’s phone or via the admin portal. Call Forwarding has the advantage of convenience when compared to Single Number Reach (has more flexibility but does require some labor to initially configure). The disadvantage is that Call Forwarding sends voicemails to a mobile device voicemail box vs. a corporate one. If your business messages have the potential to contain sensitive information, this feature may not be an option for you. In addition, Call Forwarding only works for direct calls and not calls sent to a hunt group.
If you would like to use Call Forwarding, these general steps work to for most phones:
- Press the CFwdAll or Forward All softkey (this differs depending on model)
- Enter the number you want to forward to, including your normal access code for external calls
Tip: If you don’t see the softkey on your phone, you may need to click the “more” or “…” button to see additional softkeys: https://youtu.be/ZfPHufiRmWs
Cisco Jabber delivers instant messaging, voice and video calls, voice messaging, desktop sharing, conferencing, and presence. The Jabber client can be used as a software or cloud phone. Just as you would with your office phone, you can answer, place, transfer, and initiate conference calls from your extension using Jabber. Jabber is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Connecting remotely to your phone system may require a virtual private network (VPN) client, or your organization may use Cisco Expressway to make secure connections without a VPN.
Using Your Desk Phone at Home
Companies that have Cisco Expressway will be able to bring Cisco 7800 and 8800 series phones home. They can register phones securely back to the corporate phone system. To power the phone, you will need a power supply or power injector. The phone can also directly connect to a home router. If your phone is compatible, you can login with Mobile and Remote Access (MRA) through Cisco Expressway using the following procedure:
- Restart the phone and press Enter when asked to scan a QR code.
- Press the ABC softkey to switch to alpha entry.
- Enter the domain, which would be the same domain you use for email (ex. syseng.com) and click continue.
- Enter your Windows username and password and press Sign In.
- Your phone should now register as if it was in the office.
If you have a home office with a VPN back to the corporate network, connecting your phone to your VPN device (this may require a power pack) is all that should be necessary.
Call Flow Adjustments
Since many of us are working remotely, you may need to make some adjustments to Call Flow. Common adjustments can include:
- Adding additional users to hunt groups to improve capacity.
- Sending calls to automated attendants for self-service instead of live answer.
- Setting up a conference calls with large numbers of employees.
If you have issues or questions about your Cisco phone system configuration, please reach out to your Systems Engineering Account Manager. You can also connect with us at 888.624.6737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Pizzo is a Solutions Architect at Systems Engineering. Prior to his current role, Steve was on the Network Engineering team for 15 years. He works with both customers and sales to develop network, security, wireless, and collaboration solutions.
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