Technical progress and the shift from analogue, hand-switched networks to digital, fully automatic telephone networks have also brought about a significant change in the significance of the telephone operator workstation and the way in which it works. In the early days of the telephony era, it was standard practice for calls to be connected manually. This task was undertaken by the phone operator, who had to be contacted before the actual call could be made. Calls were connected by inserting plugs in a switchboard at specially equipped workstations housed in telephone exchanges. Manual connection in public networks has now been obsolete for many years. This task has since been taken over first by analogue and later by digital switching systems. In Germany, the German Postal Service (Deutsche Bundespost) abandoned manual connection in 1966.
Nowadays, the telephone operator workstation is often located within a company telephone exchange and ensures that incoming calls are dealt with in the requested manner. The telephone operator has an overview of all connections and engaged phones and can forward the calls to a member of staff responsible or one who is free.
Owing to the introduction of voice-over IP technology and the merging of data and voice networks, the telephone operator workstation now has a far wider range of functions. Modern telephone operator workstations are flexible and clearly structured. Information about free extensions, calls on hold or incoming calls is displayed on a screen. In addition, you can enrich the data with information from the telephone system and other computer systems.
Calls can be answered, transferred or parked via a mouse click or via the keyboard directly linked up to the computer. With the help of cloud-based telephone systems, it is possible, in principle, to set up a telephone operator workstation at any computer with internet connection.