From the May 2000 issue of Startups

Are you in the market for a new home office telephone? Make the time you spend on the phone more productive by looking for the following essential features:

  • Using a hold button or a mute button is far more effective and more professional than covering the receiver and hoping the person on the other end can't hear you.
  • Automatic redial saves you time dialing busy numbers. You can keep working while you're waiting for a call to go through.
  • Number storage keeps frequently called phone numbers literally at your fingertips.
  • A speaker phone allows you to dial without holding the receiver. While you're waiting for an answer, you can keep working.
  • A cordless phone gives you the freedom to walk around your office or even outside.

Once you've got your new phone, check out the following services from the phone company to increase your phone productivity even more. (Services offered depend on your local phone company.)

  • Three-way calling. This feature allows you to talk with more than one person at a time. It's especially helpful in setting up conference calls so that your home location is not a liability.
  • Tele-branching, or remote call forwarding. If you move and get a new phone number, this feature allows you to "keep" your phone number, too. Callers who dial your old number will reach you at your new number.
  • Call waiting. If you're on the phone and you receive an incoming call, a beep will alert you to another caller.
  • Caller ID. With Caller ID, you can screen your calls while working on important projects, know who called while you were out and avoid annoying sales calls.
  • Call forwarding. This feature allows you to forward all the calls that come to your phone number to another number, including your personal line or wireless phone.
  • Distinctive or priority ring. This feature assigns various numbers (all on one line) special ringing patterns. For example, you could assign your fax number a special ring and only answer the phone after a standard ring.
  • Call notes. If you're on the phone and receive an incoming call, the line automatically switches to your voice mail.

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com and the author of Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).