Gone are the days when your desktop telephone was your only means of reaching customers and colleagues. Not only have cell phones taken on increased importance in the workplace, computers also have voice and video telephone capabilities. Today’s communication technologies include standard phones, conference room speaker phones, cell phones, and collaboration applications such as softphones, all of which allow you to have conversations with people anywhere in the world, as long as they have the same or compatible technologies available.
Companies can now install something called a softphone application onto your computer. This application enables you to use the computer as a telephone. All you need are speakers and a microphone or a headset to call colleagues over the company network on a secure connection. If computers have cameras, the call can become a video conference. As long as your company’s network can be accessed remotely and you have the softphone application on your laptop, you can make computer calls whether you’re in the office, at home or on the road.
Even if you have a softphone application, your need for a desktop phone will probably not go away; however, the desktop phone can also interact with your computer through unified messaging. Unified messaging consolidates multiple communication channels into a single repository: Your email system. Faxes and voice mails can be delivered straight to your email in-box. Voice mails can be played back over computer speakers and the message might even be converted to text, allowing you to read what the caller had to say without playing the message. Voice-to-text converters are not always accurate, but you get an idea what the message is about before you take the time to play it back.
Smartphones have become a standard technology tool in the workplace for many professions. Smartphone technology integrates a telephone with a small computer. Adding applications to a smartphone brings standard cell phone use to a new level, with tools such as maps and navigation systems that can guide business travelers and in-home health care workers to wherever they need to go, whenever they need to get there. Sales professionals also use their smartphones to access customer relationship management systems. The flexibly to gain access to customer information on a phone enhances a sales professional’s opportunities in the field.
Social engineering is not a subcategory of social networking but is a term used to describe people who try to trick others into providing sensitive information. A caller might pose as a member of an information technology department and ask you for a computer password. In another scenario, someone could eavesdrop during a telephone conversation to obtain confidential information. Every company should have a security policy specific to voice communications, and a training program to educate employees on what to do regarding workplace communications.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.