GreenTech LogoThis month in GreenTech we're focusing on cloud-based phone services and also the changes in the workplace that this technology is enabling, namely telework.

TechSoup Global donation partner Cisco Systems and the environmental organization Telework Exchange are teaming up to promote Telework Week from February 14-18. Telework Week is a nationwide effort to encourage agencies, organizations, and individuals to pledge to work from home at least part of that week in order to decrease automobile pollution caused from everyday commuting. The Telework Exchange website has a trove of information that includes the list of environmental problems caused by commuting to work, other research studies, info on how to transition to working at home more, federal agency and local government information, legislative perspectives, and more.

In our own telegreening campaign in the spring of 2009 we found that U.S. workers alone commute an average of 10,000 miles per year per person and consume 67 billion gallons of gasoline. In addition, Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, which is more than the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) taken by many workers during a year.

The connection between telework and cloud-based phone services is that these new technologies (that are sometimes bundled under the term unified communications) simply make working from home as effective as coming in to the office for many people. New telecom options include cloud-based services like voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and virtual PBX. These enhanced telecom services route phone and other communications over the Internet thus lowering costs while increasing the quality and ease of keeping in touch with clients and workmates. A couple of excellent examples of free VoIP telecom cloud-based services are Skype and Google Voice.

Here are some of the things we're featuring this month:

I hope you can join us for this exploration of phones in the cloud and the telework they make possible for your organization.