The Productivity Box: Bring Back the Voice Calls

If you look on social networks, it may seem like video, chat and email have replaced telephony for good. There’s an entire war going on about who does communication better. Hashtags after hashtags, studies and researches, everybody has an opinion. But when it comes to productivity, the traditional voice calls may be just what you need.

The Productivity Box: Bring Back the Voice Calls

While video conferences helped companies transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also took their toll. Psychologists even coined the term Zoom dysmorphia, namely the anxiety and stress from seeing how you look during a video call. What’s more, multitasking is common during such video calls, which can also reduce overall productivity.

This is why, in this installment of my monthly jump out of The Productivity Box, I’m going back to the good old telephony. As last year’s data shows, voice calls are back and they’re back for a reason. Let’s find out why turning your camera off and scheduling a phone call is a simple and powerful way to boost your work performance.

Current trends

Video calls weren’t the only method of communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of America’s most popular phone carriers reported more and more phone calls as people quarantined inside. In March of 2020, Verizon alone reported they were seeing more than 800 million calls per day, higher than their highest peak day annually, the Mother’s Day.

The increase in calls is driven by personal and professional factors. Out of the blue, people couldn’t see each other in person anymore. So they called their friends to keep in touch, restaurants to set up takeout orders, and also for services like tax prep and legal advice. Professionally, millions of Americans started working from home. And a quick phone call took the place of walking over to a coworker’s desk. 

Looking ahead, it’s safe to assume that the number of daily calls will remain high even as the pandemic ends. With many companies agreeing to implement long-term remote or hybrid work policies, employees will need to stay connected just as they have been since the start of COVID-19.

Why voice calls enable your work performance

There are many options for staying connected in the remote workplace. Here are a few ways that voice calls support workplace productivity.

Voice calls make it easier to convey emotion

When it comes to clarity, the phone call still reigns supreme over a text, chat message, or even email. It’s easy to misinterpret the tone of emails or pick up on the subtext and emotion that comes with written messages. Even if you pepper your communication with exclamation points and emojis (which aren’t always considered professional), your reader might take away a different message from the one you intended. So, if you need to convey important information, the best thing to do is call that person.

The ability to share things clearly and concisely will optimize the communication process because there’s less back and forth or confusion about the message. And remember, you can always send follow-up information or recap the call via email later on to ensure total traceability. Now, even if you are an introvert or just a bit shy, grab the phone and make that call!

Voice calls allow for an immediate response

If you need an immediate response, pick up the phone and call someone. It can take some people several hours to respond to emails, especially if your note gets buried within dozens of other messages.

The team at Email Meter says 24 hours is a decent response time for an email message and 10 hours is acceptable for customer service queries. Plus, if you’re practicing good email boundaries, you might only check your inbox two or three times per day. While chat and text are also known to be fast, some people turn off their notifications during the day so they can focus on their work.

Thus, when you need a fast response, my advice is to call that person. Don’t wait on a response to make a quick change or get back to a customer with an important answer. Use the most productive channel of them all: the phone call.

Voice calls keep you focused

Video calls aren’t always productive because it’s easy to tune out the speaker or get distracted while you are in a meeting. For example, a 2020 Microsoft survey found that 30 percent of participants sent (at least) an email during a video call.

With so many notifications coming in, not to mention distractions around the house and noises coming from your phone, it’s no wonder that people are focused on everything but the video call they’re in.

Voice calls, on the other hand, can lead to greater productivity because they’re 1:1. It’s easier to tune in and stay focused on a single, likely shorter, conversation than it is to track the conversations of multiple people over a longer period of time.

Do it for your productivity

There are many great ways to keep the communication going. For important conversations, getting quick answers, and staying connected throughout the work day, just pick up the phone and call.

As weird as this might be for the younger workforce that grew up with texts and chats, voice calls might just be the missing key to your workplace productivity struggles. Do it for your productivity! You can thank me later 😉

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