Skype in the Office: Ditching the landline and going global
We've looked at people using Skype to make a living, people using it to keep in touch with friends and family, and even a handful of people using Skype to keep in touch with others from the top of mountain, but what about using Skype for work? Can it help boost your productivity, save you from getting on a plane every couple of weeks, or even going into the office?
Skype as your office phone
Rik Henderson, Pocket-lint's editor of news, uses Skype to replace his office line. Pocket-lint doesn't have a centralised office, with the team dotted around London, Surrey, Berkshire in the UK, and further afield in the US, the Far East, and New Zealand.
To help keep abreast of what's going on we use Skype as our main communications hub, with dedicated rooms for specific subjects, as well as one where we can talk about rubbish or gossip.
"It's really handy, as Ian or Chris are only a couple of pings away," Henderson told us when we phoned him - on Skype, of course - for a quick chat.
But where Henderson differs from some of the members of the team is that he uses Skype to replace his office landline phone as well, allowing people to call him wherever he is - be it in his own office or on assignment.
"Because its not a fixed land line in my home office, it means I can literally take my office with me wherever I go. This was really handy when I was in Las Vegas for CES at the beginning of the year."
Of course would-be phone callers are none the wiser. Henderson gives out a standard looking number, which he chose, and pays £4.54 a month to keep it maintained. That package - the Unlimited Europe - gives him free calls to any other landline in most major European countries and means that in his own words, he is "more happy to give it out to most people because it isn't my mobile".
A useful side affect, "You can turn it off," he says. "I only use Skype for work, so it's nice to be able to shut it down when I want a break, and know that the answer machine messaging service will take the stack."
There are complaints of course, like the occasional bad call quality, but Henderson believes this is fixable to an extent by getting a decent microphone (he uses the Blue Yeti Pro).
"I'd recommend it for most people, certainly if you don't want to give out your mobile number."
Steve Dye is the business development manager for Kittiwake developments limited, which specialises in online and on-site solutions for condition monitoring of production-critical plant and machinery with offices in the UK, Germany, India, the US, and the Far East.
"It's really useful to see people when you talk to them," Dye tells us over Skype from the company's UK headquarters in Littlehampton, West Sussex. "We use Skype a lot within the company and being able to see people can really be helpful, especially when you are trying to explain something or show something complicated."
The company use Skype for video calling one-to-one, group video calling for development meetings, as well as chat messaging even just to save time walking around the office.
"It's so much quicker for inter-office chat than getting up and having to walk over to their desk," explains Dye.
That might sound really lazy, but Dye doesn't think so. "Every time I have to get up I'm actually wasting a lot of time. This way I ping a question to one of my team, and the answer comes straight back."
Dye and his team also use Skype for talking to customers and clients around the world, but warn that you have to be careful about call quality from time to time.
"If you get a bad line it doesn't look very professional, but it doesn't happen that often, and you have to always remember it’s a cheap way to call China."
On the go, like Rik Henderson, it also means Dye can dial in to a conference call from his phone, or via his iPad when he is working from home or a hotel room. It is something that Dye, who says he travels a lot, finds very handy indeed.