Nine Weird Places People Take Conference Calls
When my editor and I were going through the final throes of confirming information on my Sept. 8 cover story about Parisian luxury goods purveyor Hermes earlier this week, we held several conference calls with Luisa Kroll, one of Forbes’ wealth experts and, I believe, my hardest-working colleague. She had officially been on vacation since Friday. But instead she found herself taking part in a series of group calls while standing in the woods next to a pond on Cape Cod where she was supposed to be celebrating her daughter Cassie’s eighth birthday.
Unfortunately, in my view, Luisa’s situation is increasingly becoming the rule, not the exception. I don’t think it’s a good thing that most of us have our phones glued to some body part for all of our waking hours. It saps our energy and our ability to immerse ourselves in many of life’s great pleasures and experiences. I am thinking of the New Yorker cartoon of the tourist looking not at the Statue of Liberty but the statue through her phone, as though she couldn’t see it outside her ubiquitous screen.
Now a rather entertaining study done for a big Chicago conference call provider, InterCall, confirms my fears about the extent to which conference calls disrupt workers’ lives. Though the study paints this as a happy turn of events, I see a darker side. “Since nearly every employee has access to a smartphone or tablet, meetings can be taken from home, the beach, an airport—pretty much anywhere employees find themselves,” the report says brightly.
InterCall surveyed 500 full-time employees about their conferencing habits. Conference calling jumped 42% between 2011 and 2013. Not surprisingly, calls from mobile lines versus landlines increased 40.6% in the same period (I would have thought it would be an even greater hike).
Also not surprising, but telling: 82% of respondents said they worked on unrelated stuff while on conference calls. Here’s how many people do what:
Other work – 65%
Send emails – 63%
Eat or make food – 55%
Go to the restroom – 47%
Text – 44%
Check social media – 43%
Play video games – 25%
Shop online – 21%
Exercise – 9%
Take another phone call (I guess this works if you put your outgoing line on mute) – 6%
Now comes the fun part of the survey – where were the strangest places workers took conference calls?
1. A truck stop bathroom
2. McDonald’s playspace
3. The closet of a friend’s house during a party
4. The beach: “It was a video call so I kept my tablet up so that my bikini didn’t show.”
5. Behind a church during a wedding rehearsal
6. The racetrack
7. Chasing my dog down the street
8. Disney World
9. Fitting room while trying on clothes
My personal favorite is the dog chaser.
Some 39% said they dropped off their calls without telling anyone. Another 27% fell asleep.