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The Last Days of the Desk Phone

Advancements in wireless technology are making it easier than ever for businesses to go mobile. 

Man typing on his laptop sitting in a chair

The days of bulky desk phones and cat5 ethernet ports in every cubicle are numbered. As wireless connectivity improves inside many office buildings, and the corporate adoption rates for laptops, tablets and smartphones soar, organizations increasingly embrace a mobile-first mode of work.

For growing numbers of companies, the next logical step to modernize their IT and telephony environments is to implement a comprehensive, enterprise-grade mobility solution that seamlessly connects all employees anywhere inside their work environments, as well as away from the office.

While the benefits of mobility for road warriors has long been clear, and the market penetration of Wi-Fi for data in medium and large enterprises now approaches complete saturation, according to IDC Canada, some employees remain tethered to their desks. At a time when more than three-quarters of Canadians over the age of 18 own a smartphone[1], desktop handsets are increasingly antiquated and redundant.

“If organizations have only invested in Wi-Fi for data and have not considered a mobile option for voice communication, they’ve only given employees half the solution,” says Tess Van Thielen, Vice President of Wireless Voice and Wireless Data Product Management at Rogers.

“Affordable wireless technology readily exists to empower employees and maximize their potential.”

Enable Work Anywhere

Employees used to work mostly in one physical location, only getting up to attend a meeting, notepad in hand. But for the vast majority of large organizations, that model is disappearing quickly.

Today, forward-thinking organizations enable employees to work where it best suits them, so they can find quiet space to focus or, alternatively, interact with the colleagues and partners when they need to. “This is very appealing to certain demographics,” says Van Thielen. “We see companies that are trying to attract Millennials, and that cohort is looking at different options for working the way they want to work.”

The signs of increased mobility inside offices are clear:

  • Next year, laptops will likely experience the most growth among end user devices in the workplace—43 percent of organizations plan to increase their investments in laptops, according to a recent survey by Spiceworks of nearly 1,000 IT pros in the United States, Canada, and the U.K.
  • Fixed workspaces are now used less than 50 percent of the time, and 70 percent of workers are mobile at some point, whether working off-site, from home or in the field[1].

The phone, however, remains a predominant form of communication at work. When powered by an enterprise mobility solution, the smartphone offers a single point of contact for both voice and data communications that stays with employees, enabling them to work where they’re most productive while ensuring they’re reachable.

Improve Collaboration

As work becomes increasingly intellectual and creative, employees highly value flexibility. When they need to, they’ll productively accomplish tasks in solitude, and, should their projects require it, they will collaborate effectively with others. A mobile-first strategy encourages these dynamic interactions.

Similarly, new technology solutions and applications are leading to increased communication and collaboration. “One of the main drivers for investment in wireless is collaboration applications,” says Kevin Lonergan, an IDC Senior Analyst for Infrastructure Solutions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the time spent in meetings, on the phone and responding to emails has ballooned by 50 percent or more over the past two decades.

Connect Ubiquitously

Fortunately, connecting is rarely a challenge anymore, no matter where you are. In addition to advancements in Wi-Fi technology that have increased bandwidth, powerful wireless networks like 700 MHz LTE extend across all major Canadian urban centers. “A great wireless network is now inherent in most of our lives,” says Van Thielen. “Unless you have a large manufacturing plant or operate out of an extraordinarily large cement building, you’re going to experience a good wireless signal in most workplaces in Canada.”

A comprehensive mobile-first strategy consolidates communication on largely existing hardware and networks, while eliminating the cost and complexity of managing legacy equipment like a PBX. And the vast majority of enterprise wireless solutions—like Rogers UnisonTM, Skype for Business, or Microsoft Office 365—work on almost any type of existing corporate IT and employee hardware.

As Van Thielen notes, “The leap from basic wireless technology to an encompassing mobile-first approach is an easy transition, because organizations simply add new software to devices and infrastructure they have already invested in.”

So appreciate the charm of bulky desktop phones while you can. They may soon be only found in museums.