So many of us seem to communicate exclusively through social media, digital apps, and live chat.

But does this really work for business communications ?

64% of SMEs said that their business could not carry on without fixed-line phones, and 52% said the same for mobile, according to research by Ofcom.

Maybe the right question wasn’t asked because what most SMEs cannot trade without is some form of internet access ( fixed line or mobile ) and with that the associated internet or mobile based voice communications….. the ability to talk.

There will always be a proportion of people who want to speak on the phone to another human being when contacting a business and many of these don’t even leave voicemails if they don’t get to talk to a person straight away.

But the ways in which those kinds of conversations happen inevitably shifts over time. Increasingly, business people communicate through conference call facilities  or video conferencing services , and there is even the growing popularity of features like FaceTime ( massive in with consumers ) that inevitably is more and more used in the world of business.

SMEs will need to ensure that their telephony and internet access infrastructure can support all these forms of “ talking “.

Because small business life can be unpredictable, SMEs have become more and more reliant on flexible working scenarios – including the so called “gig economy”.  ( the gig economy is defined as – a labour market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.)  Over the past year, two in five small enterprises in London have employed gig economy workers, as well around one in five outside of the capital. Of those who did, a quarter described as the gig economy as the “future of how businesses work.”

Whilst this allows SMEs the flexibility to better manage their workforces;  it also means a larger number of remote employees will make up those workforces.

To remain efficient in this environment, voice infrastructure will have to become leaner and more flexible. SMEs will need to be able to quickly bring new short-term contractors onto their telephony infrastructure and just as easily remove them once contracts end. Similarly, if contractors are in different locations or time zones, it is likely that VoIP and video conferencing will become the norm.

SMEs must adapt to the way employees need to use voice.