World Wise

Travel and tech­nol­ogy com­ple­ment – not com­pete – to make work more pro­duc­tive

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Ross Atkin­son

Bad Calls – Mo­bil­ity takes con­fer­ence into un­charted wa­ters

Hand­held mo­bil­ity in the work­place is con­nect­ing busi­nesses, open­ing up new op­por­tu­ni­ties, at­tract­ing new knowl­edge work­ers to strengthen and of­ten di­ver­sify a work­force, and even cre­at­ing new economies by bring­ing busi­nesses, ad­ver­tis­ing, ap­pli­ca­tions and more to one plat­form. Walk through an air­port, and you’ll see it first hand. On your next trip as you tra­verse from ter­mi­nal to ter­mi­nal, count how many peo­ple are not on the phone. Mo­bile has not only en­abled a highly con­nected so­ci­ety, it has cre­ated some very in­ter­est­ing habits.

For ex­am­ple, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a con­fer­ence call walk­ing through the ter­mi­nal seems in­no­cent enough; after all you’re more likely to be pro­duc­tive as you’re on the way to do more business.

The world’s largest con­fer­enc­ing provider, In­ter­Call, a sub­sidiary of West Cor­po­ra­tion, helps Business Trav­eler put this con­ver­sa­tion into con­text. In­ter­Call’s re­cent re­search shows just how much mo­bile is im­pact­ing con­fer­enc­ing habits. Dig­ging into its 20 bil­lion­plus con­fer­enc­ing min­utes and sur­vey­ing more than 500 out­side, full-time em­ploy­ees, some sur­pris­ing out­comes emerged.

Dirty Se­crets

Now, we all know that us­ing mo­bile for con­fer­ence calls al­lows us greater free­dom. How­ever one might ques­tion how at­ten­tive con­fer­ence call at­ten­dees are, given all this in­de­pen­dence. In­ter­Call’s re­search found that 82 per­cent of those sur­veyed ad­mit­ted to work­ing on un­re­lated items while on a con­fer­ence call. The abil­ity to multi-task may be why 64 per­cent of those sur­veyed ac­tu­ally pre­ferred join­ing a con­fer­ence via a mo­bile de­vice over a land­line.

So what are peo­ple do­ing when they are di­aled into a call?

Yes, walk­ing through the ter­mi­nal is not the only place where peo­ple are“mul­ti­task­ing.”If your eye­brows rose at the idea of tak­ing con­fer­ence calls in the bath­room, then you will see that air­ports are not the only places where peo­ple are lever­ag­ing the free­dom of mo­bile.

Some of the strangest places where em­ploy­ees took con­fer­ence calls in­cluded: try­ing on clothes in a fit­ting room, be­hind a church dur­ing a wed­ding re­hearsal, at the race­track and even at Dis­ney­land. Now that is mag­i­cal.

Hello? You Still There?

At least th­ese folks ac­tu­ally stayed on the call. Ac­cord­ing to the survey, 39 per­cent of em­ploy­ees ad­mit­ted to drop­ping off a call with­out an­nounc­ing it so that they could pre­tend to have par­tic­i­pated the whole time. Another 27 per­cent ad­mit­ted to fall­ing asleep dur­ing a call. And a brave five per­cent said they’ve had a friend take a work con­fer­ence call in their place.

There is no ques­tion con­fer­ence call­ing and mo­bile con­fer­enc­ing will con­tinue to grow. In­ter­Call saw an in­crease in both num­ber of calls and to­tal con­fer­ence min­utes in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly year over year. That said, with peo­ple fall­ing asleep, hav­ing friends make the call, and do­ing some­thing com­pletely un­re­lated, one won­ders: Wherein lies the value?

That’s why those in-and-out air­port meet­ings are so popular among business trav­el­ers (see Day Trip­pers, page 26). Granted, time on the road may re­quire more time away – hence those har­ried air­port con­fer­ence calls. But the truth is, most of us feel those in­per­son mo­ments sim­ply add more value.

Yes, I will con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in con­fer­ence calls, and yes, from my mo­bile de­vice. But I’ll also con­tinue to take to the road for those all-im­por­tant in-per­son meet­ings, even if they are there-and­back, be­cause they are face-to-face.

Both face-to-face and mo­bile con­fer­enc­ing are crit­i­cal to our suc­cess, there is no ques­tion. But know­ing what might be go­ing on at the other end of the line, you may view your next con­fer­ence call with a lit­tle more skep­ti­cism. Now you can be all the wiser. BT

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