No More Desk Phones!

January 9th, 2020

By Craig Chiffers, Microsoft MVP and Senior Architect, IComm

Alright, hear me out. You no longer need a desk phone. Karen in Accounts doesn’t need one. Joe in Sales definitely doesn’t need one, and your CEO doesn’t need one. So why are you buying everyone a new desk phone?

About two weeks ago I was in a meeting with a customer discussing their move to Microsoft Teams. The key takeaway from that meeting for the customer was their drive to push their workforce towards mobility – rolling out Windows 10 surface devices for everyone, refitting the office to enable hot desking, allowing people to work from home one day a week, using Microsoft Intune to manage endpoints, and moving their telephony from a legacy PABX to Microsoft Teams. If there was a scorecard for “enabling mobility”, The points would be totting up.

All except one – desk phones. “We’ll just replace our existing CISCO handsets with Teams compatible handsets, and give some of our users headsets” the customer said.

Can anyone guess why this may be a bad idea?


business person holding a coffee mug and working remote from outdoor table from laptop and mobile phone

Today’s workforce wants to be mobile. We check and respond to IM’s, group chats, and email on the train into work. We attend meetings from coffee shops (or the beach!), and we access our documents from our laptops on the bus home. Office 365, and the cloud as a whole drives this method of working. If we’re promoting mobility to our workforce, why do we want to lock them at their desk when they want to make calls?

Bums on seats

Desk phones signify to your mobile workforce that in order to make a work call, they’ll need to do one of two things:

–> Sit at their desk to make or take a phone call


–> Use their mobile phone to make or take a call

In any organisation that i’ve walked in to where people are given company provided mobile phones, or are able to use their own personal phone the desk phone sits there, unused, gathering dust.

Go and ask someone on your floor now when was the last time they used their desk phone. Bonus points to someone who can show you how to perform a consult transfer to an external number without dropping the call.

stressed out business woman with hands on head, looking at a laptop screen, and 5 hands holding phone handsets to her

Getting rid of that desk phone

Alright, so if you’re not rolling out desk phones what will your people use to make and receive calls? Well, that depends on how the user works, and the current culture.

A word on culture

Just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean we should. Before you go ripping handsets off desks, have a think about the current culture within your workplace.

Are your users ready for this change? Are your customers ready to walk in to your company reception and see your reception staff potentially using mobiles, rather than desk phones?

Ensuring you have a good understanding of your company culture, as well as a c-suite blessing will go a long way to ensuring the success of this change.

Alright! How do we handle our users?

The work-from-anywhere user

This is arguably the easiest to deal with. You’ve got someone that works from anywhere – from home, a customers site, a coffee shop, the train and anywhere in between.

You’ve given them a surface laptop, or surface pro, and they’ve got a smart phone. Both of their devices are running the Microsoft Teams app.

All they need now is a headset! There’s many to choose from but you’ll want to focus on light, portable devices that have Bluetooth functionality to allow the user to pair the device to their mobile and PC at the same time giving them choice of where to make/take the call.

photo of Jabra Evolve 65e headset sitting on round table with phone, coffee and magazine

Jabra Evolve 65e headset

The office user

Alright, you’ve taken Steve-from-Sales’s desk phone away. He’s going to need a replacement.

In comes the Elara from Poly. The hybrid desk phone/mobile base station/headset/mobile charger all-in-one solution!

Poly Elara 60 Microsoft Teams Desk Unit with Voyager Focus headset in dock

Poly Elara 60 Microsoft Teams Desk Unit with Voyager Focus headset in dock

Not a fan of the Elara? There’s always the option of giving the user a wireless or wired headset that they connect directly to their PC/Laptop for calls and meetings.

What about Meeting Rooms, or Common Area Phones?

Well, meeting rooms would benefit greatly from having more than a simple desk phone within them. Microsoft have many in-room Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) solutions available. These upgrade the meeting room experience to allow your users to share and present content, and join voice and video calls.

Common area phones – These will more than likely require a physical phone still, or a wall-mounted device such as an iPad, Surface pro or Android device running the Teams app.

What about Reception?

One of the most important parts of your business is ensuring the reception workflow is as smooth as possible. If you want a project to succeed, ensure you pay close attention to reception!

Whilst your staff may be used to using a desk phone with sidecar today, you definitely should consider taking a look at a PC based reception console such as Landis Attendant Pro. These consoles allow receptionists to handle calls using simple keystrokes, or via drag and drop, rather than having to remember everyone’s 4 digit extension number.

screenshot of Microsoft Teams and Landis Attendant Pro

Teams Screenshot from Landis Attendant Pro

Alright, I’m ready to take everyone’s desk phone away! What now?

Easy, tiger. Remember: user adoption is absolutely critical to the success of your Teams roll-out, something that we do here at IComm, part of Cloud Collective very well. Check out our Full Halcyon Change Management Suite.

Ensure that your users know WHAT is happening, WHEN it’s happening, and WHY it’s happening. Get them on board with the changes, let them select their headset from a list of options, and ensure they feel confident in how to use Microsoft Teams first, before you rip that legacy handset from their hands.

For more information on devices, check out Microsoft’s Official Teams device catalogue: