How to Lose Your Land Line and Still Run the Office
Still using a cordless phone at the office? Why? Maintaining a land line in this day and age is an entirely unnecessary business expense. Web-based services and apps work with your cell phone to make sure you never miss a call or appear unprofessional — even when you're on the go. Here are a few of your options.
VoIP services allow users to talk via the internet, providing an inexpensive (and often free) way to communicate using your computer, a cell phone, or a traditional handset. Here are some of the biggies:
- Google Voice — This free service integrates your phone functions with your Google services, such as Gmail, and allows you to block and screen calls, receive voice mail transcriptions, hold conference calls, and route calls to your cell phone. Find tutorials on the Google Voice YouTube channel.
- Skype — Skype allows you to call from computer to computer for free and call from computer to phone at extremely low rates. Connect internationally for pennies per minute, and use the easy video calling and group screen-sharing functions to expand your communication repertoire. Skype also has a YouTube channel that offers tutorials.
- Phone Power — Have your cake and eat it, too, with this service, which lets you plug a standard land line phone into an adapter that routes phone calls over the internet. Get a free adapter and add a second line for a very reasonable monthly service fee. Plan prices depend on whether you pre-pay, commit for a certain length of time, or prioritize domestic or international rates. A month-to-month domestic calling plan will run you $19.95.
Land Line-Like Features and Accessories
Don’t worry that you’ll lose some of the convenience and functionality of a land line when you pull the plug. Various solutions exist to make your VoIP setup more user-friendly.
- Second lines — The free Line2 app allows you to add a second number to your cell phone so you can use one device for both personal and business calling. The app also helps on your cell phone bills by avoiding use of your plan minutes by connecting your phone calls over WiFi when a network is available. When you're not connected to WiFi, the calls go over your 3G/4G data network and only when that doesn't work uses your minutes on your cell network. The free version allows unlimited calling and texting within the US and Canada, call waiting, and call forwarding. Get international calling and texting at low rates, or upgrade to the Pro version for even more business-friendly features.
- Phone finders — A range of apps and websites will help you locate your misplaced cell phone, a problem you rarely face with a land line. You can make your phone ring using free sites like Wheresmycellphone.com. Various apps, including Find My iPhone and Where's My Droid, will also do the job.
- Accessories — A range of products make talking on your mobile or through your computer more comfortable and convenient, including speakers, wireless headsets, and retro handsets.
This is only a small sampling of the services and products available to help you unplug your land line for good. Make the switch to cut your land line costs while you remain just as professional and productive as ever.
Katherine Gustafson is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington, who loves writing about small business and entrepreneurship. Her first book, Change Comes to Dinner, explores the way entrepreneurs and other visionaries—from greenhouse innovators to no-till wheat farmers—are changing the business of food.