The Revival of Voice: The Lazarus Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this landscape of social distancing and remote working, staying in touch with coworkers and clients is more important than ever before. Real-time communications platforms have cemented the importance of virtual technology across most industries and workspaces. And under this new normal, voice communication has surged back after years on the decline. 

The Revival of Voice: The Lazarus Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Why voice calls are on the rise

Ever since the current situation began and hundreds of millions of people got under lockdown, telecommunication has grown exponentially. And it’s only normal considering that voice and video enable us to connect for both work purposes and social interactions.

Verizon currently manages around 800 million phone calls each day, more than double the amount of calls from this time last year. You read that right: double! Meanwhile, AT&T has seen a 35 percent increase in calls since the pandemic began, reports Cecilia Kang, a tech writer for The New York Times.

Shockingly, for both carriers call volume is higher than internet traffic, which has only grown by 20 to 25 percent, Kang adds. And now comes the funny part.

Video didn’t kill the voice star

Go figure! Video actually didn’t kill the voice communication 🙂 And there are many reasons why.

While video conferencing is accessible and convenient, it can lead to social burnout. This fatigue is caused by more than exhaustion from prolonged screen use. It’s often a result of perceived scrutiny from the close-up faces of fellow team members all at once. With a video conference, “you are on a stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful,” says Marissa Shuffler, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Clemson University.

In addition, video conferences can intensify onscreen distractions or overstimulation, causing mental drain and a lack of productivity, attention or engagement.

If you’re on a (video) call with five people, you might feel like you’re in five different rooms at once. You can see their furniture, plants, and wallpaper. You might even strain to see what books they have on their shelves. The brain has to process all of these visual environmental cues at the same time.

Liz Fosslien and Molly West Duffy, co-authors of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work

The mental benefits of a phone call

A phone call may not provide you with that face-to-face experience of a video call, but it brings a variety of unique benefits to the conversations you’re having at work and with clients. Michael T. Nietzel, author and former president of Missouri State University, explains:

It’s intimate in ways that a chatbot cannot duplicate for the simple reason that, in a phone call, two people actually talk to each other, and just each other. You hear another human voice […] No performance obligations or appearance demands imposed by video calls or virtual group meetings.

With a phone call, it’s easier to concentrate and use active listening, which means you’re truly hearing what your co-worker or client is saying. What’s more, voice-only communication increases empathetic accuracy, according to a Yale study, published in the American Psychological Association. After conducting 5 experiments, study authors found higher rates of empathetic accuracy compared to vision-only communication and multi-sense communications. This comes as a result of “increasing focused attention on the linguistic and paralinguistic vocal cues that accompany speech.

Whether you’re dealing with a global pandemic or not, empathy is a key component of great communication and relationship-building. That’s why phone communication provides such a wide variety of advantages.

How the Lazarus Effect benefits the future of Unified Communications

As more people now reach for the phone to hear an actual voice at a rate not seen in years, Unified Communications (UC) providers should feel reassured. Companies are adjusting business models and pivoting collaboration styles in order to align with remote work, making UC platforms more crucial than ever. And their service providers — read that YOU 🙂 — have the opportunity to prepare them for managing their remote teams more effectively.

Out of all UC tools and services, the voice segment held more than 30 percent share of the market in 2019. With COVID-19, this is on the rise yet again, expected to grow at a CAGR of around 8% from 2020 to 2026, based on recent data from Global Market Insights.

Looking at the big picture, the resurgence in phone calls is not happening just in companies that have gone remote since the coronavirus pandemic began. Essential industries, whose employees still work onsite, are also finding more of a need for voice communication these days.

For example, nearly 48 percent of doctors and healthcare workers currently interact with patients through telemedicine calls rather than face-to-face appointments, which is an increase from 18 percent two years ago, according to physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. These phone calls ensure that people receive medical attention without overcrowding hospitals or clinics.    

As a result of the value of phone-based communication and the increase in use in 2020, telephony is projected to yield $54 billion in total revenue in US only this year with an annual growth rate of 4.5 percent from 2020 to 2023. Now think world-wide!

The revival of voice

As a UC provider, this is your opportunity to market and capitalize on the undeniable comeback that telephony has made.

Unified Communications platforms like VoipNow & Hubgets enable information to be shared with virtual team members from any location in the world. And what’s more, it’s a solution that’s distraction-free and less exhausting.

And as voice calls rise, we may even see an increase in empathy and connection among team members and between companies and clients. That would allow everyone to grow a little closer during a painfully distant time.

Stay safe and keep helping your customers with their communications!

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