How To Choose A Phone System For Your Office

Technology What does it cost?

There is no cookie-cutter method to phone systems, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the most bang for your buck.

An office phone system is often taken for granted. Just like many office technologies, a phone system is something that is often overlooked when outfitting an office.  However, if the wrong phone system is used or the right features are not enabled on a phone it can quickly begin to cause headaches. 

Hopefully, this article will give you a better understanding of what phone systems are capable of, what you should budget for when buying and the factors that go into those costs. Once you are ready to take the next step towards purchasing your next office phone system, you’ll be more prepared to make the best decision for your business. 

What Features To Look For In A Phone System?

An integrated phone system can be a rather significant purchase once both the actual cost of the system and the time required to implement it is accounted for.  After speaking with hundreds of customers, here are the key features that they felt anyone phone shopping should look for:

  • One button transfer 
  • Flexible keys for lines and extensions
  • Hold button
  • Paging
  • Mailbox access

If the list above doesn’t seem like a revelation that’s because it isn’t.  All of those features have been available for some time and most high-quality phone systems will either come with them or can be upgraded to have them.  That’s why we don’t think you should select a phone system based purely on this list.  Those five key features should be the baseline just to consider a provider or their solution.  

Phone systems are flexible and we stand by the belief that every system should be customized to meet your business’ unique communication requirements. 

Seek Out A Phone That Will Go The Distance

Since so many phone systems can appear quite similar on the surface it can be easy to dismiss them all as essentially the same product but you can be missing out on substantial added value opportunities.  In our experience, the best way to maximize the value of your phone system is to make sure it was tailored to specifically meet your exact business processes and workflows. 

Does your team need to move around the office while on the phone or be able to answer their desk line from another part of the office?  Perhaps an enhanced wireless phone that contains all the same features as a more traditional desktop phone is a better option.  

Do you have team members who are frequently at customer sites or on the road?  A unified communications compatible application may provide the most value. 

Perhaps you need more mobility and since SIP Phone lines use the internet to connect, you don’t have to have traditional phone lines set up wherever you plan on making calls. In fact, some services offer a mobile app that allows you to take advantage of the SIP phone features wherever you may be.

Could A SIP Phone Line Benefit Your Business?

One of the new technologies changing the typical office phone system is called Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). You may also have heard of SIP phones referred to as VoIP, but while the two are closely related, they aren’t quite the same thing.  SIP systems do enable voice calling over your IP, but they can also offer a host of other features such as video calling, instant messaging, media distribution and other applications.

SIP lines are, at their most simple level, phones that use the internet instead of traditional phone lines to communicate with other people.  The real technology isn’t in the handset itself but within the SIP lines running behind the scenes. SIP phones use a typical Ethernet cable to connect to the internet and, with the high-speed internet being widely available, offer a quality that is on par with traditional phone lines.

How Much Should You Budget?

One of the primary factors impacting how much a new phone system will cost is just how many phones you are going to need.  A business with four employees is going to require far fewer phones than a company with 100 employees.

For example, we are going to base our numbers off a “typical” small business with ten employees working out of one office.  This example office is going to purchase ten desk phones, have half a dozen phone lines and host their system within their space with a PBX (Private Branch Exchange).  They should plan to budget between $5000 and $6000 for this phone system.

What Goes Into the Cost of a Phone System?

There are a variety of factors that will determine your final price. Here are the three elements you must consider before selecting the budget for your next office phone system.


The factor to most drastically impact the cost of your phone system will be the phones themselves.  How many do you need?  Are they standard desktop phones, cordless, hybrid or wireless phones? For a standard desktop phone, you could expect to pay approximately $300 per phone.  But as your hardware becomes more advanced, so too will your price. 

In addition to the phones, many office phone systems rely on a PBX to host their VOIP network.  These PBXs can cost $2000 to $3000 depending on how it is configured and the complexities of installation.


Unlike most other technology where you start with a base piece of equipment and add on whatever features you want or need, office phones typically come loaded with a suite of excellent features.  It is then your option to scale back features that you don’t see yourself using or select a phone model with reduced features.

Number of Lines

A traditional phone system requires one phone line per phone number.  So, our example office with ten employees would have needed to subscribe to ten phone lines if they wanted each employee to have a unique phone number. 

These phone lines are purchased from a local telecommunications provider (ex. Bell or Rogers) and can be purchased independently of your hardware. Or you have the option to move to a more advanced system that runs on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) lines rather than traditional phone lines. 

One of the vital cost-saving features of SIP lines is that they are a shared resource, meaning that each user can have their own unique phone number without requiring a unique phone line.  Many businesses will reduce their monthly phone bill by as much as 30 percent after making this switch.


Consider All Of Your Options

Not sure where to start?  We can help.  At Office Interiors, we aim to answer all the questions and concerns our customers might have. One of our phone system experts would love to talk you through the process.  

We have decades of experience analyzing workflows and digging into the details of whether your system is designed to maximize productivity or simply to have been as easy as possible for the installers.  Reach out today to schedule your free consultation.

Our mission is to help our customers create more productive work environments. 

Cody Turner
Digital Content Specialist
Office Interiors