This is what google voice is for, right?
February 20, 2018 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a new job where I don't have a work phone. Is this a job for google voice?

New job, tiny organization with no work phones. I barely use a phone so far, but I might more often in the future and either way I'd like to give out my number and have a number in my email signature. I'd rather not use my personal number for a couple of (probably obvious) reasons-- a) don't really want to be receiving calls on vacation; b) privacy issues/desire not to mix work and personal; and c) my area code is out-of-state and my work is very local, so that's a little weird.

My understanding of google voice is that I could get a local number, give it out, and calls and texts would come in to my cell basically the exact same way as they do when someone dials my "real" number, but I could have a separate professional voicemail message and I could turn off the forwarding to my phone temporarily or permanently. Is that right? Is there anything else I should know or reasons that this wouldn't be a good fit or another service you like better?
posted by geegollygosh to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You've got it all right so far.

In my experience the only thing that's a bit difficult is returning calls. If you had calls forwarded to your desk or mobile and pressed "call back", the person would see your real number. Even if that's not a security issue, it's been confusing for the person on the other end (e.g. "why are you calling me from this other area code?") (see also)

Android phones integrate better with GVoice than any other operating system, naturally. Last time I used GV+Android it let you call back seamlessly (can't remember: did it give you the choice, or just use the number that the call came in on?)

For iOS and desktop phones you need a bit more discipline to make sure you use the GV system or app to make the return call.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:12 AM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I used GV for this very purpose for years. It was GREAT at preventing calls from coming through to me on weekends and evenings. But it was TERRIBLE at actually receiving and forwarding calls when it was supposed to. Once a week I'd get an e-mail that someone tried to call me but it just rang and rang and rang and never went to voicemail, or that they just heard some weird message about me not being available.

You get what you pay for.
posted by MonsieurBon at 11:12 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you talked to other people in your organization about what they do?
posted by insectosaurus at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Depending on where you are, you may not be able to get a new GV number of a local area code (I couldn't), it that's what you mean by a "local" number. You should probably be able to get a local number with a cheap cell phone and transfer the number over to GV, though.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:20 AM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was going to do this, but got concerned that Google could just decide to move on from Voice, as they've retired other projects such as Reader. I was also concerned that Google could "own" any data, such as voice messages, meta-data and so on.

So I ended up using Sideline for this purpose, and it seems to work fine. I pay a monthly rate to keep having the same number, as when I started, they had a free version but the number could be reassigned if it wasn't used. The subscription price has gone up from when I started, but they may have bargain deals available.
posted by jasper411 at 11:54 AM on February 20, 2018

My experience of Google Voice mirrors MonsieurBon's. Missed calls, weird SMS issues, and laggy phone conversations mostly made up of "sorry, no, you go..." convinced me that GV was not to be trusted when professional appearances matter in the slightest. I have an iPhone, though, so ymmv.
posted by mumkin at 12:09 PM on February 20, 2018

If work wants you to talk to work-related people about work on the phone, then work will provide you with a desk phone so you can do that. They haven't, therefore they don't.

It may be somewhat industry-dependent, but I would not find it weird to receive email from someone with no phone number in the signature, nor would I find a business card with no phone number (but which had other contact information such as an email address) weird.
posted by sourcequench at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have an android (samsung galaxy).
posted by geegollygosh at 12:23 PM on February 20, 2018

I can't say how well it works on Samsung's Android variant, but it's pretty nifty on my Nexus 6 since it integrates into the dialer and everything more seamlessly than other VoIP solutions. Of course, last I used it was back when they were still pushing the Hangouts app as a universal solution so you could easily send an SMS from a GV number without having to use the GV app, use it as a dialer for GV calls and all that stuff.

They may well have stripped some of that out by now, but it's worth a try, because if they haven't it really did work well when I was using it.
posted by wierdo at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2018

Oh, and if it does work, a simple solution to keep it working even if Google later changes the app is to disable auto updates and just not update Hangouts unless it stops working. ;)
posted by wierdo at 1:04 PM on February 20, 2018

I'd say to hold off on getting a number or at least including one in your email signature until you find that you actually need it, and then use Google Voice for it if you do. If your workplace needs for you to have a reliable phone number, they should set that up for you as part of their operating costs; I wouldn't use anything that I had to pay for myself on the self-service side.
posted by Aleyn at 4:13 PM on February 20, 2018

I've never used them, but there are services that give you a second phone line that forwards to an existing number. Google Voice can be iffy. Get your company to get something like Line2 (I have not used this service in particular).
posted by radioamy at 5:12 PM on February 20, 2018

Don't forget that you need to have good wifi. 3G/4G works with Google Voice, but it's a little laggy for professional stuff.
posted by 8603 at 5:47 PM on February 20, 2018

I have used Google Voice (several numbers for different purposes attached to different Google accounts) since it was Grand Central. Your use is one of the exact reasons for GV. For a long while Google was not updating the service and there was talk of them shutting it down or abandoning it, but in the last year they have gone the other way, updating the app, the website and generally putting resources into it. I have had some issues in the past, but recently, for at least the last year, it has worked really really well. They have fixed the MMS issue too. You can set your phone to ask you each time before you make a call whether to use the GV number or the phone's sim card number. That is easy. I use the same number, my primary GV number on two phones, a OnePlus One and the other is a 1st gen Pixel. I have also used it on a Nexus 5x. In the past I used it on a Galaxy S4 and S3. (I have also had to borrow an iPhone 6 for a brief period and it worked ok on that with some quirks.) One of my phones, I actually do not recall the sim card phone number and have to look it up whenever I might need it.

I highly recommend it. You have nothing to lose by getting it and trying it. If you don't like it or it does not work well for you, just don't use it.
posted by AugustWest at 6:02 PM on February 20, 2018

I would add that being able to text from the website on my desktop or from email if you have email copying on, is a big plus. I
posted by AugustWest at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2018

Yep, that's all correct. I've used Google Voice as my "desk line" (an alternative to my cell phone but it's not a land line or a cell phone) by making and receiving calls on my computer. But it also forwards to my cell phone when I want it to, too.

What you should think about is whether you want the Google Voice account linked to your personal Gmail, a work email, or some separate personal Gmail you set up. Because I have all text messages and voicemails from my Google Voice number go to my email. You may not want that stuff in your personal email so think about which account you want to use to sign up for it.

Also, you need to use the account for the number to stay active (I forget what the requirements are) or you can pay $10 to permanently keep the phone number you choose, which is what I did.

I agree that Google Voice isn't perfect - sometimes it seems a call just simply won't go through. But usually it's fine and I love how texts and voicemail go to my email.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:24 PM on February 20, 2018

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