Updated February 22, 2020
Customer service positions make up the bulk of work at home job postings found online. Customer service can encompass phone support, email support, chat support as well as Social customer support by way of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Phone support is by far the most common of all customer service jobs though.
Companies that hire remote phone support workers are now mostly moving toward VOIP (voice over internet protocol) applications as the phone service used by their workers and away from landline phone service. But there are still quite a few companies that utilize landlines and require their employees to do so as well.
For people who work remotely for an employer whose platform runs on landline service, a specific item is necessary: a work at home phone.
When I say “Work at Home Phone,” I am referring to the type of phones that are designed explicitly to be used by those answering phone calls in a customer service phone support position. These types of phones are paired with headsets to allow the worker to freely type on their keyboard. Of course, this type of phone can be utilized by others who work at home if they need a hands-free setup.
I need a WHAT?
Very often, work at companies that are looking for phone support agents list the equipment requirements for the job along with the job experience requirements.
When I first began searching for a work at home position, I came across such a listing. These types of jobs fall into 2 categories. Either an applicant will need a landline to perform the job or incoming calls for the job will all be delivered by VOIP (voice over internet protocol).
The job listing that I happened upon required a landline and listed one of the required pieces of equipment as a “keypad.” I thought the listing was referring to a calculator or the numbers keypad that is found on the right side of most keyboards. I cannot tell you how long it took me or even HOW I figured out that a keypad was just a corded landline phone with just the number buttons but no hand-held receiver.
I eventually got past my “duh” moment and went on an online search for the phone keypad. Sure enough, a search for a “work at home phone” will include results like the phone keypad that I eventually purchased – as seen below:
What is a keypad (or dial pad)?
Also called dial pads or headset telephones, the simple designs of work at home phones do not take up much space on your desk. Most keypads are barely an inch or two bigger than the average mobile phone. Therefore, you are left with more room on your desk for your notepad or some other essential accessory.
Work at home phones have just about all of the same aspects and specifications of regular or traditional landline phones. Here is a list of important as well as optional features that you want your phone to have:
- Number buttons – Of course, even though your job may not involve outbound calling, or you may have to dial a number to transfer a call.
- Call volume control – So that you are able to hear your customers clearly.
- Mute button – For those times you researching something on your computer for your customer and don’t want your typing and other movements to be audible.
- Jack or port for your headset cord
- Jack or port for the landline phone cord that plugs into the wall or phone modem.
- Hold Button – For placing customers on hold and giving yourself time to you look up something on your computer without being interrupted.
- Flash button – For placing customers on hold to transfer a call.
- Ringer volume control and the ability to turn off the ringer – You may want to turn your ringer off or lower the volume if you receive call notifications from your employer’s software on your computer screen.
- Caller ID function – Depending on your job, this feature may not be necessary.
- Easily stored – Because the phone is not used with a hand-held receiver, it isn’t required to be as big as the average landline phone. That means the phone can be stored away easily when you aren’t working.
- Phone and Headset combo – Work at home phones are often sold together with a compatible headset cutting out the need to shop for two pieces of equipment.
- Headset holder – Dial pad phones that are sold with a matching headset usually come with a headset holder attached for convenient storage.
Can I use a regular landline phone?
So you’re wondering why aren’t you able to just buy a phone headset and hook it up to the phone you already have at home.
First, let me explain what types of work at home phone setups are not generally allowed for phone support jobs:
–Cordless and wireless phones are not allowed. Work at home companies that hire for phone support jobs require that you have a reliable phone connection at all times while on your shift. Because cordless and wireless phones work on battery power that can run out at any time and rely on “air” signals that are easily disrupted, they are not considered reliable. Additionally, any headset used with cordless and wireless phones must have a 3.5mm or 2.5mm connector which are not recommended for use for a phone support position.
–Traditional corded phones with hand-held receivers are not generally recommended because both hands are required to be free to type on your keyboard. Also, balancing the receiver between your ear and shoulder for an entire shift with back-to-back calls would be unreasonable.
Using a corded phone headset to connect to a regular corded phone sounds like a good idea. However, that particular setup would permanently leave the phone “off the hook” the entire span of your work shift. You would have to hold down the phone hook after each call until the next call came through. Doing so would be unreasonable and hurt your ability to enter important call notes and information on your computer once your customer calls end and before another call came through. All keypads and dial pads are designed with a button that allows you to disconnect or answer a call with one push and doesn’t need to be held down, making them the more convenient option. Also, the connector on a telephone headset may not fit in the jack of a traditional corded phone.
Analog or Digital
Dial pad phones can be used with traditional analog landline phone service or digital phone service available from your local cable company. Both types of phone service providers are preferred by employers who hire for work at home phone support jobs.
However, VOIP or internet phone service providers like Vonage are rarely allowed for these types of jobs even though dial pad phone works with their equipment.
No Extra Features
Please note that most remote phone support jobs will not allow any extra features to be added to your landline phone service. Features like voicemail and call waiting interfere in the way calls are can be sent to your phone line. You wouldn’t want to have another call coming in while you are helping a customer. Nor would you want customer calls being sent to your voicemail.
You should be able to turn off your features through your online account settings. However, you may have to contact your phone or cable company directly to have some settings changed.
Traditionally, a landline phone is plugged into a wall jack in order to receive a signal. However, with digital phone service that is provided by cable companies, a phone modem is installed in your home to receive the signal.
The modem is connected to a coaxial cable like that used to connect your cable TV receiver or internet modem. It can be installed so that the signal is sent to the wall jack(s) in your home, but it can also be installed so that you are able to plug your phone(s) directly into the modem using a common phone cord. Connecting directly to your phone modem is actually recommended because feeding the signal to the wall jacks in your home splits and weakens it and possibly affects your call quality.
Your work at home phone is a very important piece of equipment for your home office if you provide customer service phone support. Consider it an investment for your work at home career. Make sure that the phone you choose has all of the features you need and want and carefully consider the best product for you.
You may also be interested in reading How to Choose a Work at Home Phone Headset.
Check out my review of my own personal work at home phone!
–Did I miss any other aspects about work at home phones? What type of phone do you use to work at home? Share in the comments below!