How to handle phones for roles rather than users

A question that I have a lot from organizations that I work with, is how to setup phone service for what I call “roles” versus “users”. For example, a factory shift supervisor. There’s always one on duty, and their shift lasts 8 hours, then the next one takes over. Someone in the organization who needs to reach that supervisor doesn’t want to have to consult a schedule or call 4 or 5 different numbers to reach the right person. Another example would be a security line (or two, one urgent/emergency and one administrative) for a security department. A third could be a main reception line versus the receptionists (and their relief) who staff it.

There are two ways to handle this type of scenario. The first is to create a user account or common area account for the “role”, drop a phone on the desk and you’re done. I like this solution when the staff involved aren’t information workers or don’t have their own network accounts at all – the security team, for example. This does require either a Common Area Phone or user license (depending on if you want the user level features that a Common Area Phone doesn’t offer, like voicemail).

The other solution is to create a call queue for the “role”, and have the staff be assigned as agents in the call queue. The staff can hot desk onto phones or logon to the Teams client on their computer, and can make and receive calls as either themselves or the “role”.

In more complex scenarios such as if the security team needs both administrative and emergency lines, the “role is a phone” solution doesn’t scale well. The Call Queue option works well here. Finally, you could also create a hybrid where there’s a desk phone as an agent in the call queue, so that there’s always a “bat phone” that can be picked up.