For many companies today, a traditional ‘in-the-office’ workforce is a quickly fading memory.  More than 60% of workers today report working away from the office at least part of the time.  One of the drivers of this change is Hosted VoIP – and within the realm of that technology you’ll find the increasing use of softphones.

With adoption rates of softphones increasing due to lower costs, better mobility and increased personal worker privacy – I am getting an increasing number of questions about what they are and how they work.

What is a Softphone?

Well, it’s no mystery how the softphone got its compound name, soft + phone.  The ‘soft’ part comes from ‘software’ and the phone from ‘telephone.’  This means, putting two and two together so to speak, that a softphone is a piece of software that mimics a more traditional telephone.  You can place and receive calls as well as carry out other typical telephone functions (transfer, hold, etc.) on a screen (PDA, computer) using a mouse, keypad or keyboard.  Talking and listening require a microphone and speakers, e.g., a headset.  The softphone software (sometimes known as a softphone ‘client’) is available for computers (Macs, Windows, etc.) as well as smartphones (Androids, iPhones.)

Why Use a Softphone?

Depending upon your business and your workforce, there can be many advantages to softphone deployment.

  • Increased Mobility – This is probably the most compelling reason for a worker to use a softphone. Loading a softphone app on your mobile device means that you can go almost anywhere with your desk phone virtually in your pocket.
  • Transparency – While you’re using your softphone you’re sharing your office phone number and not your personal cell number. This is both more professional to customers and allows more privacy for workers.
  • Features – The features that come with your office extension will be available from your softphone. You can even manage settings and switch seamlessly between your office and softphone when you need to.
  • Lower costs – Softphones are less expensive than IP phones. With good quality IP phones starting at around $150, a softphone is an alternative for those looking to avoid a few extra dollars.  Many Hosted VoIP providers include a softphone with each user account.

With ever-advancing VOIP technology, make sure that you know about all the options that can make your workforce more productive and your business more competitive every day.