Is it the End of the Line for Desk Phones?
Receiving a business phone call today feels like someone knocking on your front door. It’s intrusive and usually without warning. Spam my inbox by all means, but unwarranted phone calls are unwelcome. I guess this has something to do with employees being too busy to take an impromptu call, but too ‘British’ to just hang up once curiosity gets the better of them and they regretfully answer.
So, we can agree, everyone hates cold calls. Even cold callers hate cold calls. But what employers need to consider is that millennials hate all phone calls.
No, I’m not just spreading another millennial myth or regurgitating more telecom propaganda on how millennials like to communicate at work. You only need to search the word ‘millennials’ in Google and articles spouting about ‘phone phobia’ flood in. Instead, tech-savvy millennials who have been brought up with smartphones are using instant messaging, texting and collaboration apps like Slack and Yammer. These UC tools allow workers to respond promptly with short responses, supporting the rise of flexible offices by allowing workers to be just that – flexible.
With millennials already making up the largest generational workforce in the UK, it should be no surprise that a recent report from Ofcom showed that phone calls have started declining for the first time ever while mobile data usage has grown considerably.
93% of UK businesses are still using desk phones
So, why do 93% of businesses still use desk phones I hear you ask. Good question. Let me explain.
There’s no doubt that technology has radically transformed the workplace, but the rate at which companies adopt new technologies is wildly over-estimated. Year on year we read about how the workplace will be shaped by virtual reality, automation, artificial intelligence and IoT. But as we watch technological advancements skyrocket, when it comes to the adoption of new technology in the workplace, we start to see a lag. According to TalkTalk’s ‘Workforces 2025’ report, only 7% of employees are using video conferencing and 45% of employees believe email will remain the primary means of communication five years from now. Why? Often workplace cultures are too difficult to change, budgets are too tight and there’s not enough resource to implement and deliver new systems.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be adopting new technologies. Employees of all ages are using social media, video calls and instant messaging tools in their personal lives – so why should IT slow right down when they step in the workplace? Whilst introducing new methods of communication can be painful, team-based productivity and collaboration increase when businesses use unified communications. The power technology holds to motivate your workforce and make your business stronger and more efficient in the long-term should not be underestimated.
So, is it time to hang up the phone?
Voice communication isn’t going into retirement yet. Not everyone is going to be suited to flexible working and this is something businesses must recognise and adapt to. But likewise, if organisations do not start to consider business transformation, they risk causing a frustrated workforce and failing to attain and retain top talent.
Instead, the threat of the decline in desk phones has been challenged by market-leaders creating handsets which are media powerhouses. More than just a handset, UC applications mean that new business media handsets are supporting the UC revolution rather than competing with it. Functionality like video conferencing, device pairing and easy integration with third-party collaboration apps, means that handsets are more dynamic with improved capability to support productivity. Modern handsets are your Android device and all of your apps sitting on your desk, taking away the distraction of mobile phones and the pain that can come with BYOD.
So, instead of being the problem, could UC desk phones be the solution to remaining relevant to all four generations of employees which make up today’s workforce? Join the conversation by leaving us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.