In a word, yes. Thinking on my own habits, I have used my office’s desk phone precisely two times in the past four months, and both occasions were for parallel testing with my smartphone rather than for a normal call. The rest of my calls, both inbound and outbound, both personal and business, relied on other technology to skip the desk phone altogether. Do I have a direct office number? Yes. Do I need a desk phone to use that number? No.
We live in a world where software has matured, where we may count on a fairly hardware agnostic solution, even for voice communication. In some cases, this means a system like Cisco’s Communications Manager is simultaneously ringing your internal extension and your smartphone, and the caller does not experience that difference. In other cases, this means you have Cisco’s Jabber application on your laptop and/or smartphone, directly linked to your extension, and your smartphone’s cellular function is not part of the equation. The first scenario has been extremely useful to me for almost 15 years. If I miss the call, it drops to my office voicemail, and I get the email with that message to respond at my convenience. What I do not get is the option to call back from my office line, as I would only have the smartphone’s cellular capabilities. The second scenario is where the flexibility kicks in. I can answer that call with the Cisco Jabber program on my laptop or with the Cisco Jabber app on my smartphone, even if I am not in the office. The improvements in security, speed, and quality of service have combined to eliminate the need to be in the office, regardless of whether you own your phone system or host it elsewhere.
This functionality is especially useful for employees who work in many different areas of the office or whose work functions take them out of the physical office regularly. Within the office, the ability to use the Cisco Jabber app on a smartphone can eliminate the need to purchase wireless IP phones, which also means the user does not have to carry a second device. Outside the office, this option ties remote workers more closely to the office, allowing their colleagues to see their Presence status and their customers, vendors, and other contacts to continue the use of a single number to reach them. Additionally, this allows employees to use the same Bluetooth™ headset for their office calls as their personal calls since they’re handled by the same device, the smartphone, thereby further reducing the costs of the overall collaboration system.
This does represent a cultural shift, but while the desk phone isn’t gone, it certainly has competition!