The district’s phone system is aging, and I can’t envision replacing it with the same type of system. Many of us are mobile, and I hear from many staff members that they barely use their desk phones.
We are looking into systems such as ringcentral.com, that are cloud-based providers, that would allow us to have desk phones where we need them, connect existing phone numbers to smart phones or laptops, and would be a lot less labor intensive to maintain overall.
One of the nicest features would be the ability to assign one phone number for staff that would follow them wherever they are, and is extremely simple to use. I know we had tried hotdesking in the past with our current system, but it was just too clunky to use so it wasn’t utilized.
I’d appreciate any input as we begin to think about this future project.
I think I’ve used my desk phone twice in 8 years. I have my number forwarded to my Google Voice number which forwards to my cell.
I know that there are needs for phone numbers to do this and that’s a hassle, but making calls from my computer makes it easier. I use my laptop for calls even when I’m sitting next to a phone. I’m for whatever solution is the cheapest and removes traditional phone companies from the equation.
Working in IT, we are very mobile and having a solution for that would be very nice. However, looking at the bigger picture, I think we would still have to have a phone in each classroom for 911 purposes and emergencies. So maybe a hybrid solution, where the classrooms only need a phone and we look at a more mobile solution for staff that wish to go with it.
I agree Joe, and part of our vendor evaluations will require them to address this area of concern.
Thank you for the conversation. RingCentral also has a solution for 911 purposes that would still remove the physical phone from the equation. We also met with AllStream (formerly Integra), our current provider, to discuss their new offerings. The entire industry is on the move and, hopefully, we can find a solution that checks all our boxes.
I personally do not want to use my personal mobile for work-related business. I utilize my office phone daily for communication with parents, service providers, and district representatives. If I am not at my desk, I am at a meeting or working directly with students and wouldn’t be available by phone anyways. I do see the benefit for district staff who are at their desks less, and for texting capability, as parents increasingly request text as communication. Overall, however, I don’t think it’s fair to expect staff to use their personal cell phones for work.
This type of solution gives us the flexibility to go either way, depending upon staff preference, which is nice. Many staff have district-issues laptops or ipads that could also be used so they wouldn’t need to use their personal devices.
Just to clarify, there is no push here for staff to use their personal devices.
I have also used Google Voice which can forward both calls and texts to my phone. I didn’t want to use my personal phone either if I was giving out my number. The nice thing about using Google Voice is that the number that people saw while interacting via Google voice was different than my personal cell phone number. Also, it’s free, so there’s that.
I also have set up a google voice number for work. This has allowed me to communicate with both staff and guardians via a number that is tied to our school district, rather than my own phone number. It provides a lot of flexibility such as
- transcribed (not always very well) voicemails,
- unlimited storage of old messages and voicemails,
- free texting,
- works on laptops & mobile devices,
- is web-based so I get service no matter where I am in the building
I think it is important, as @Chad_Maxa has already foreseen, to have a model that allows staff to utilize whatever method works best for them mobile or physical classroom phone.