Headsets sweep telephones away at County Hall

  |  Published: Jun 25th 2015
John Chilver: headsets replace telephones
John Chilver: headsets replace telephones
Headsets linked to laptops are sweeping away telephone handsets as County Council chiefs aim to save money and make their staff more flexible. Around 600 staff at Buckinghamshire County Council were given the headphones in a pilot scheme last November.

The devices plug into laptops and allow the user to make and receive County Council calls remotely - meaning they can work from home and elsewhere without incurring personal telephone expenses.

Now, the initiative will be rolled out to 2,500 more employees by September in what represents a major culture change at County Hall.

John Chilver, County Council Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “The idea is to give our staff far more flexibility by allowing them to receive and make calls via the Council system when they are working remotely or at home. We save money on the telephone hardware and on landline and mobile charges as we are phoning over the internet.

“However, the biggest saving will come eventually in terms of office space because this enables us to hot desk very easily and work from remote locations.”

The Council is working towards having only one desk for every two workers and the headsets are seen as key to achieving this.

Mr Chilver added: “It’s good news all round for taxpayers because we also save money by not having to travel to so many face-to-face meetings. Instead, we can video conference or send instant messages to colleagues and also share files so we see what they see and can collaborate on content.”

The headsets tie in to Microsoft Lync, an online programme which allows phone calls – as well as instant messages and videos – to be made with a few clicks on a laptop.

“This has given staff the ability to be absolutely agile in the way they work,” said Sarah Barnes, the County Council’s Technology Group Manager. “It means you can take your office with you wherever you go.”

There have been a few glitches in the pilot scheme with some staff experiencing difficulties in making internal calls. But this is believed to have been caused by the fact not everyone is on the same system, and officials are confident the problems will be ironed out when the headsets become more widely used.

Henry Massey, who works in communications, was one of the staff on the pilot scheme. He said: “Being able to take notes using both hands while on the phone is a big advantage, but the biggest help thanks to Microsoft Lync  is the ability to share your desktop with whoever you are speaking to - enabling them to see a presentation, picture or webpage and talking them through it.”
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