A Not So Novel Approach – Use The Phone

Is it just me, or is the office getting a lot quieter? Part of that trend toward silence may be the fact that so many people are now opting for “Virtual Office” and are now working for home, or some other location. I have tried that. On occasion it works when I have very early morning, or late evening calls with other time zones, but for the most part I find that there are two reasons that I don’t like to work from home. The first is that there are too many other distractions for me at home. Games, TV, family, etc., all are within easy reach and can be a distraction. The second is that I like to think of my home as a refuge from work. I think that a home office would be an invasion of this refuge that I would not welcome.

Let’s get back to the quiet office. Its quiet because there are so few people talking. My computer beeps when I get an email. It does it quite often. It has a different tone when I get an instant message. There seem to be a lot of those as well. My mobile phone “pings” me when I get a text message. I think I need to find some way to coordinate these tones so that they make some musical sense because they go off so frequently.

I down loaded an application on to my smart phone that allowed me to create some specific ringtones for my phone using some of my favorite songs (late 80’s alternative rock, in case you are interested). I can’t remember the last time I actually heard the song / ringtone played.

We don’t talk to each other anymore.

Instead we have email chains that are 10-15 emails long where we conduct a slow-motion discussion back and forth over the course of several hours to several days. We “copy” multiple individuals whose electronic mailboxes are clogged with the ping-pong discussion, and the interjections of others on the copy list. When we ask about the topic we are invariable met with “It was in the email I sent you.”

We are blasting instant messages back and forth to multiple recipients, across the day. Some of the information contained in these messages can be quite useful. Most of it truth be told is not. It seems to be the electronic equivalent of meeting someone in the hall and saying hello and asking about the weekend activities, personal health, or plans for the next weekend’s activities.

I have a business phone on my desk. It is an amazing piece of modern technology. There are no less than 62 buttons on it, including the 12 used for dialing phone numbers. This is true. I actually counted them. Less than 20% of the buttons on my desk phone are directly associated with placing a call. I don’t know why I waited till now to make that observation. I have had this phone for a couple few years.

We buy the most advanced mobile hand held devices in history and we type out our messages and happy / sad faces –    using our thumbs or index fingers to our friends. We have a new generation of automobiles that will automatically link to our mobile phones using Bluetooth technology, so that we can speak hands free while driving to anyone on the planet, but texting has replaced drinking as the cause of most driving accidents.

Instead of taking all day to have an electronic conversation with someone in the internet arena, I have tried to take a small step back in time to a happier age, the age where when I needed something, or wanted to communicate something, I just called someone. I picked up the phone and I spoke to them real time. This may seem incredibly old school, but you know what? I seem to be getting more things done faster.

I now have a discussion on the phone, capture the key points and then send a single email, to those interested or effected parties, with only the salient information. There is no need to scroll through 4 – 5 screens to find the pertinent information that is being communicated. No more email discussions. If I think it will take more than one email, I call. It’s faster and more efficient.

If I am driving my car and have a need or a question, I call. I still get text notifications on my phone while driving. I ignore them. If it was important, and the vast majority of them (probably all of them) are not, or they can at least wait the 15 – 20 minutes that it will usually take me to get where I am going and have a chance to respond. If it was really important, they would call me, and I would use that snappy hands free technology I talked about earlier.

We should remember that phones, both mobile and business were primarily created to enable the real-time verbal / oral communication between people. That type of communication contains the most information for communication and provides it in the shortest time. If you want to try and gain back part of your day and be more efficient, try using the phone to talk to people, instead of typing at them.

One thought on “A Not So Novel Approach – Use The Phone”

  1. Well said, Stephen. One other novel idea would be to actually invite a friend/associate OVER and talk face-to-face. A “bold move” beyond even the telephone contact, wouldn’t you say?

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