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Phone service of some sort is likely to be a consideration for just about any telework situation, and there are many approaches to consider:

Home phone number and service
2nd (business) line into the home
Personal cell phone
Company-issued cell phone
IP telephony
Unified communication services

Home phone number and service: It may be okay for a teleworker to be contacted on their home phone directly if they rarely work from home and/or if the only people contacting them are internal to the organization. If this option is chosen, it may not be appropriate to apply call forwarding from the office phone to the home phone since other members of the household will likely also be using the phone.

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2nd (business) line into the home: For more regular teleworkers and/or instances when communication with external clients and partners is involved, the addition of a 2nd phone line for business purposes might make sense. A decision will need to be made as to who pays for the 2nd phone and phone service. Will the employee pay for it and be reimbursed? Will the phone be provided by the company and the phone service set up through the company's phone service provider (traditional or VoIP)? Will call forwarding to the 2nd line be set up so the same office number is always used regardless of whether or not the employee is working from home or the office. This last option is ideal when the teleworker receives regular calls from clients.

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Personal cell phone: Since the cell phone owner is the one that typically answers their own cell phone (versus the primary home line which may be answered by anyone in the home), it may suffice to allow a teleworker to use their personal cell phone to send and receive phone calls while teleworking. A decision needs to be made concerning whether or not the organization will pay for all or part of the teleworkers personal cell phone service each month. It is very common for companies to offer a flat rate reimbursement each month for cell phone service to all of their employees, regardless of whether or not they are teleworking. An organization may or may not want to increase this rate for those employees that are teleworking as there will be an additional drain on their minutes if they increase usage for work-related matters.

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Company-issued cell phone: It is also very common for employees to be issued a company-owned cell phone, enabling better tracking of expenses and usage. This approach may be particularly attractive for teleworkers with very heavy phone usage, billable calls or "on-call" requirements, as well as for departments that would prefer a shared pool of phones for employees with minimal teleworking needs or staggered schedules.

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IP Telephony: IP telephony, or Internet Protocol telephony, describes a range of technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, data, fax, and other forms of information traditionally carried over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), an effort to standardize IP telephony, enables consumers and businesses to leverage their broadband Internet connections to send and receive calls. In addition to having broadband access, VoIP requires the user to have an IP phone, an analog phone adapter for VoIP, or that the user and the call recipient both have computers with the necessary software, speakers, a sound card and a microphone. Skype, another type of IP telephony, uses proprietary technology to enable phones calls to be made via your computer or Skype phone over a broadband connection.

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Unified communication services: Unified communication (UC) systems leverage software and networking technologies to bring together the voice, video, data and mobile applications common in most businesses. UC systems allow the user to redirect in real-time voice, text or email messages to the device closest to them at any given time using a web-based portal to update their preferences. For example, voice calls to a teleworker's office phone could be routed to their home business line on days when they telework from home, or emails could be routed to a PDA or turned into speech for a phone message. UC systems may allow a teleworker to pick up all of their voice messages through a web-based portal.

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This page was last updated on May 6, 2009