Is the Desk Phone Going the Way of the Yellow Pages?

October 29th, 2013 Posted by 2013, Blog          
I'm sorry - can someone please tell me how this thing works again?

I’m sorry – can someone please tell me how this thing works again?

If you look around your office you’ll likely notice several items that haven’t been used in a while, including fax machines, manila folders, Rolodex cards and copies of the Yellow Pages.

Clear some room on the shelves, because the good ol’ desk phone might soon be joining them.

Be honest — how often do you use the phone that’s on your desk?  Once a week?  A couple of times a month?  Never?  Do you even still have one?

Now, think about how often you use your smartphone…

My point exactly.

As businesses become increasingly mobilized, we are beginning to untether ourselves from traditional means of telecommunications. We’ve moved from desk phones with lots of buttons we never seem to use, and endless email on our desktop PCs, to a wider array of real-time communication tools such as texting, video chat, and on-line collaboration, all typically accessed from our mobile devices.

Today, 89% of organizations allow their workers to bring their own devices to work, and smartphones are expected to exceed 50% of mobile data traffic in 2013. As with all transitions it will take time, and may never account for 100% of the use cases, but we are certainly well on our way.

Phone calls are now routinely forwarded from desk phones to our personal smartphones. Along with our business email, calendars and address books, apps such as Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox and Google Drive are accessible at the tap of an icon. Not to mention, photos of our pets, Candy Crush, Facebook, and other “can’t live without” mobile apps!

Here at mPortal, we took advantage of a recent move to our new open-plan office space to go desk phone-less. That’s right, we “cut the cord” and had all employees download a mobile unified communications client to their mobiles and laptops. The only place we have traditional phones is in our conference rooms, for our group conference calls with outside parties.

You may say, “Well, of course, Holly – you’re with a mobile company.”  But this is happening everywhere, especially with the younger generation. Paperless Post, a New York-based company that designs online and paper stationery, also does not have work phones for most of their employees. The company says that not having individual phone lines in open-plan areas protects people from unwanted calls, which disrupt internal conversations.

And many of their younger employees think that phones are “outdated,” and actually see a phone call as an interruption. Even dentist and doctors offices send texts instead of calling, knowing that a phone call can seem burdensome. How many of you still leave voice mails to your teenage son or daughter on their mobile phone? They simply don’t listen to them anymore, and chances are you won’t even get a call back – you’ll get a text.

This is not to say that there is no place for traditional phones within an organization. Many people still prefer to use their office phones for business and their smartphones for play. And there will always be certain roles that will require them, such as receptionists, call center agents, and other desk-bound employees who still rely on a fixed phone to get the job done, due to scalability, reliability and quality requirements. We’re not quite there yet on the mobile front, which is not to say it isn’t coming.

Do you still use a desk phone, or have you gone all-in with your smartphone? Let me know by leaving a comment below or tweeting @mportal.

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Image courtesy Lionsgate Television/AMC Network



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