For millions of Americans, a broadband Internet connection had made a reality out of what was always a far-off dream: Working from home full time. No traffic. No commute. Casual Friday every day. For most, that dream of leaving the office behind was killed by the "tele" portion of telecommuting. Practical, real time, communications were not reliable enough to integrate into a dependable single network. As private-branch exchange — or PBX — technology matured into its modern form, however, it has pushed web-based calling forward enough to unchain millions of Americans from their offices.
The digital age has been kind to telecommuters. Comprehensive research shows that between 2005 and 2012, the number of Americans who consider their home their primary workplace grew by nearly 80 percent. A full 2.6 percent, or 3.3 million Americans, are now telecommuters — and that's not counting the self employed or those who work for charities. As the number of telecommuters — in both the private and government sectors — grew by 79.7 percent, their peers in the traditional workplace saw job growth of just 7.9 percent.
Even more dramatic numbers indicate that between 80 and 90 percent (varying between the public and private sectors) of those in the traditional workplace said they would like to telecommute if given the opportunity. Telecommuting isn't just attractive to employees — business owners are realizing that home-based workers can be a money-saving engine for enterprises as well.
Private-branch exchange technology has evolved dramatically from its original intended purpose — letting businesses internalize their own communications at at time when human operators still ran switchboards manually. Smart industry experts recognized early on the potential that PBX had in providing telecommuters with unified VoIP networks — ones that combined video, audio, messaging and storage into a single platform. Back in 2006 — just two years after Skype launched VoIP technology into mainstream consciousness — a respected technology publication wrote that "the time is ripe for VoIP telecommuting... if you have an IP PBX, you can support telecommuters."
The traditional public switched telephone network — or PSTN — can put a phone line in any home. But in the modern era, a telephone line alone can't connect a home office to the world. PBX, on the the other hand, can provide even average people with an integrated, backed up communications platform. A routing system can collect any incoming communications and push them to your mobile device when you're away. Whether the PBX is built on site or hosted by a third party, an outside carrier — and their fees — don't enter into the equation.
Hosted PBX allows any home with a broadband Internet connection to become a true, working office. Telecommuting is attractive to employees because it affords them more control over their schedules and eliminates their commute. Businesses like it because it reduces the need for physical infrastructure and staffing. No one has ever doubted the benefits of telecommuting for both the employee and the boss, but it was often out of reach as far as communications went. But a VoIP network built on PBX can not only unify communications, it can unify the home and the office.