Home Office Tech: Virtual Phone Services

The telephone. We’ve already discussed the different phone line options in a previous article, but there’s an entire other set of options for phone service that you may want to consider. Virtual office phone systems, local ring-to numbers, toll free receptionist systems, and more are all part of what we consider “Virtual Phone Services.”

Here’s three of what we consider to be at the top of these services:

Google Voice

One of the newest entrants in the virtual phone service industry is Google. At the time of this writing, their new Google Voice service was only available “by invitation only.” However, our experience was pretty good… we received a new Google Voice account only a couple days after requesting our invitation.

Like all Google services, this is a free service, which is its first big advantage. Basically, you get a local telephone number that can ring you on any of your current phones. If you’re not available, the system takes a voicemail message and emails you a transcription of the caller’s message. Other features include low cost international calls, custom greetings, SMS messaging, and blocking unwanted callers. Check out Google Voice.


RingCentral is a feature-rich, professional level phone system that works for home-business professionals and larger organizations alike. You receive a toll-free number with an online back office that allows you to setup extensions, ring-to numbers, recordings and other functions.

You can control incoming calls from your computer as well, choosing to send the caller to voicemail or to one of your phones. You can also choose to have a message played for your caller, letting them know you’ll return their call, or asking them to hold for you. If you need a flexible system that gives you a big-business image, check out RingCentral.


Everyone is pretty aware of Skype, the free video conferencing software.  At the core, Skype is probably an application you’ll end up using if you do much virtual work from home. Its a popular platform, and with smartphones you can be connected to your Skype account even when away from your home office.

However, the functionality of Skype goes beyond their basic video conferencing. You can also pay a monthly subscription of just $2.99 and you can make unlimited outgoing calls anywhere in the USA, and with low international rates.

Success Tip: Combine Google Voice and Skype to have an outgoing caller id on all your calls.

Check out Skype.