Hybrid working – interview with Katie Richards

Is hybrid working here to stay? The long lasting effects of Covid

As businesses battle to get back to a pre-pandemic normal, it seems that long-Covid symptoms aren’t the only lasting physical effects.

Before Covid, unless you worked in sales, you’d probably had very limited experience of homeworking. The odd day working from home when you were waiting for a heating engineer. Or a few hours after an offsite meeting that was closer to home than the office. Or maybe a rare day working from the sofa with a sick child in tow.

Some of us longed for the flexibility of homeworking (especially if we owned a laptop and company mobile) and some of us hated the idea of working from home without the office buzz and bustle. But whichever side you were on, when Covid hit, there was no choice.


And although opinion still varies on the pros and cons of remote vs office life, there’s no denying the time saved on commutes and meeting travel. Not to mention the benefits of teams still being able to work without coughing over colleagues (Covid or not).

The time savings and flexibility that we’ve all experienced with remote working have also been a catalyst for conversations around four-day working weeks and alternative working hours which means that hybrid working is probably here to stay.

But if Covid was the catalyst for hybrid working, technology is the enabler. So we chatted to Katie Richards, to find out how a simple thing like changing to a cloud-based phone system is enabling hybrid working and transforming businesses across the UK.

What is a cloud-based phone system and why can’t we just use our mobiles?

“A cloud-based phone system just means that you don’t need physical hardware. Calls are made over the internet so you can use any internet enabled device as a soft phone. It means anyone that’s logged in can make and take calls all from the same system. So it’s perfect for remote or home working.

Of course, you can use a mobile device as a softphone too. Accessing a phone system in the cloud just means you don’t have to make calls from your mobile number (particularly important for teachers and schools) or have calls ‘transferred’ to you. It’s as if you are all in the same office and anyone can jump on an incoming call.”

Which platforms do you recommend?

“We love the Xelion system.  It’s got so much functionality and so many features. So many of our customers have told us that having a new cloud-based phone system has transformed everything about the way they work. What’s even better is that every time Xelion release new features, customers automatically get upgraded. So it’s a brilliant way to future-proof your comms.”

So how does Xelion help with hybrid working?

“During the pandemic, the need for a phone system that could handle remote working was huge. So many organisations just weren’t set up to work in this way, especially schools and medical practices. You can access Xelion on any device that’s connected to the internet so it means you don’t have to be in an office to take calls. It also removes the need for additional mobile phones or office hardware. We were able to get organisations set up with Xelion really quickly and they were so grateful because it was bringing teams back together and helping businesses to continue trading.”

What can we expect from Xelion?

“We’re rolling out the latest version of Xelion (Xelion 8) to our customers at the moment. The app is super easy to use; it’s a really intuitive tool so we’re finding that people get the hang of it really quickly. Which takes the pressure off. You can use it for video calls too, even if people outside your organisation don’t have Xelion.

“The new version is also fully integrated with Microsoft 365 and Teams so you can sync contacts and make calls through Teams. It’s all the little time-saving features like this that can help businesses run more efficiently.

It’s great for team working too; anyone who’s on the system can see live availability based on your calendar, which makes resourcing much easier and call handling much slicker. Being able to view call data and manage call volume is helping companies work out what resource they need and when. Which comes back to that all-important flexibility which is so important for employee engagement and positive mental health.”

Sounds expensive...

“It does sound too good to be true but most of our customers actually save money. All the calls are free and you just pay a fixed fee so we make it really easy to manage costs. For example, doctor’s surgeries can reduce the cost of remote triaging because calls to patients are free.”

Whilst we’re all hoping that we’ve seen the last of lockdowns, hybrid working is probably here to stay. And whether you’re an office owl or a home bird, flexibility is probably the one thing we can all agree on.

Sound interesting?

If you'd like to see how much money and time you can save home working with Xelion, call us on 0800 652 7861 or email enquiries@connaughtltd.co.uk for your FREE no-obligation quote

What’s new with Xelion 8

What’s new with Xelion 8

Xelion is one of the market leaders in hosted telephony and Connaught are proud to be their fastest growing partner.  With an intuitive interface and flexible features, this cloud-based software can transform your business and futureproof your communications.

One of the best things about Xelion is that all features are included as standard. When new functionality is added, you get upgraded free of charge.

Xelion have recently rolled out version 8 of their telephony software, with a host of added extras to improve on their already extensive service.  Here’s what’s new and coming to a phone near you:

Softphone improvements


Mobile app advancements


Video & desktop sharing


Microsoft 365 integration


Microsoft Teams integration


Here at Connaught, we have now rolled out Xelion 8 to all of our existing customers, so they can enjoy the added, cost-free benefits of this VOIP system.  This rollout happened overnight to minimise any disruption, meaning our customers could wake up to the improvements without lifting a finger.

If you’d like to join them, call us and say yes to cloud communication.

We have been connecting customers as VOIP telephony providers since 1985 and we’re here to talk to you.

Security Solutions at Balaam Wood Academy

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Security Solutions at Balaam Wood Academy

Meet King Edward’s Balaam Wood Academy. A co-educational secondary school in Birmingham, with over 1000 students and 60 staff.

Their old CCTV system was out of contract support and the failing cameras and poor image resolution was causing regular security concerns. With out-of-date software, video coverage was limited and staff were unable to access footage remotely.

To keep everyone safe, the Academy needed a complete security overhaul. So they launched a tender to ensure the best possible quality and price.

The inside insight

Following a competitive tender process as well as stringent assessments and screenings, the quality-focused Academy appointed us as their new security partner.

We recommended 85 high spec cameras for this large and complex site, complete with a video recording platform that could also be accessed remotely.

With minimal disruption for the school and its learners, we installed cameras, cabling, and network devices so that CCTV images could be viewed on any IOS or Android device; a game-changing outcome for the school’s Site Manager and management team.

The visible difference

The new CCTV system has transformed the Academy’s security, providing full coverage of the school site and modernising an old and unfit-for-purpose system. 

High spec cameras and the latest CCTV software means that security footage is clear and consistent. And continuous recording and 30-day-storage gives everyone peace of mind.

For the busy Site Manager, being able to access the recording system remotely saves time so he can focus on everything else. A top result for staff, students and the Site Manager alike.

Check out our Education page to see how we help schools or our CCTV page to see the scalable solutions we offer.

If you’re ready to get in touch, call for your FREE security consultation on 0800 652 7681