Ask Ash: How phone calling is still important in the era of hybrid work

Originally published in the National Post

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies scrambled to fill the communications gaps caused by employees working from home. Three years later, many of them are still getting by with a patchwork of collaboration tools that, as a whole, are tough to use and even harder to manage. Although the adoption of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms, like Microsoft Teams and Webex has skyrocketed since early 2020, over 90 per cent of companies still haven’t fully integrated the office PBX into their UCaaS.

We asked Ash Brar, director of product and solution engineering at Beanfield about the future of office phone systems, and how to make it work for everyone in 2023.


Is the office phone on its way to becoming obsolete?

People have been asking this question since email and instant messaging came around.

Now that we have platforms like Microsoft Teams and Webex, where you can message or videocall, it’s easy to imagine the trusty desk phone gathering dust. But that doesn’t mean access to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is on its way out.

Having a phone number is still vital to the way many businesses are run. If we do transition away from PSTN calling, that transition will be a slow one.  A company you can’t call is… suspicious. And, it’s important that there’s someone answering when you call (or at least checking the voicemail!). We can also ask ourselves about whether employees using personal cell phones to conduct business is optimal – not only in terms of optics (think Caller ID), but also for safety and security of the information being exchanged, and the employee’s safety as well.


Why do you think so few companies have made the leap to a fully-integrated UCaaS solution?

The short answer is, integrating the PSTN with a UCaaS platform can be tricky, and there’s a lot at stake.

In 2023, communications should just work. By and large, UCaaS providers have done a great job as far as ensuring their platforms can integrate with PSTN seamlessly. For most IT teams, things fall apart, or at least get a bit sticky, when it comes to implementation. Unfortunately, typical IT teams no longer have the skills to manage both PBXs and connectivity, which makes handling the transition very daunting.

Integrating traditional voice into your UCaaS solution can also create a cybersecurity gap. There’s potential risk of security breaches like un-encrypted call intercepts. Organizations must have adequate controls in place and comply with all relevant standards and regulations to ensure their integrated communication platforms are properly secure.


Why should companies integrate their phone system with their UCaaS?

Well, from a user-experience standpoint, it’s a no-brainer. With a truly unified platform, employees can access all their communication tools – phone, messaging, video calling, collaboration – from a single interface, without having to switch between different systems. They can make and receive calls seamlessly across multiple devices, including desktops, laptops, mobile phones, and even desk phones. This flexibility lets them to work from anywhere using their device of choice, while still being reachable on their office number.

Organizations should, and do, accommodate the preferences of their employees. There are more and more Millennials and Zoomers in the workplace, and they prefer to use the same type of video, messaging, and social technology they use at home. But many Gen-Xers (and most Boomers) are still attached to the idea of picking up a desk phone to make a business call. There’s a huge opportunity now, with a fully-integrated UCaaS solution, to facilitate effective communication that works for everyone.

In terms of cost, communications systems have been gradually moving to a subscription-based model. This seems to be the preferred route going forward as businesses prefer the flexibility and scalability on offer.


I’m convinced! How do I get started?

The best advice I can give, is to work with a trusted provider to integrate your communication systems. The right provider should provide simple, cost-effective calling plans, complete end-to-end planning and migration services, advice on bandwidth demand, as well as security and compliance concerns. And most importantly, the right provider will hand off a ready-to-use, easy-to-administer system that meets your needs.



Ash Brar is the Director of Product & Solution Engineering at Beanfield. With over 23 years of experience, he has worked in the service provider space covering a range of infrastructure and customer focused roles.
Do you have a question for Ash? Email us at

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