When people think of office phone systems, they often imagine one that has a rack of switches in an equipment room and a hierarchy of desk phones; typically, the desk phones range from the cheap and simple to the ones with extra buttons and a screen for the switchboard. These phone systems are known as Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) and to route and transfer calls, you have to learn arcane combinations of numbers and symbols. Furthermore, if you have to move someone's number to a new desk, you need a specially trained technician. If you’re still using one of these older analog systems, you should be aware that the world has moved on.
Modern phone systems use a computer protocol called SIP and are much more flexible. For example, you can take your office phone wherever there’s an Internet connection—simply plug it in at home or in a new office and it’ll work. Additionally, you can use your mobile phone as an extension on the office phone system. Another benefit of SIP is that you can click on a person's name to transfer calls, learn who’s calling, and see who is available to receive the call. It’s also possible to ring all of your phones at once—including your mobile.
The old-style systems typically cost a lot up-front and tied users into a hefty maintenance contract—at least their basic phones were cheap. The new systems can be rented by the month from a cloud system provider. Another alternative is to buy a relatively inexpensive SIP box. This gives you the option to make calls from your laptop and smartphone. Or you can simply buy a modern digital phone with a nice big screen.
If your company has outgrown its PBX, don't be tempted to buy a bigger one—you can always mix and match with an SIP system for a while. And when considering a new phone system, watch out for the supplier who tries to sell obsolete technology that comes with an expensive maintenance contract.