Mobile Conferencing is Changing How We Work
Mobile Conferencing Connects Employees to Work from Everywhere
As the workplace has changed thanks to new conferencing and collaboration tools, so has the way employees communicate with their co-workers and clients. Being at work doesn’t necessarily mean being at the office anymore. The same can now be said for attending work meetings. Since nearly every employee has access to a smartphone or tablet, meetings can be taken from home, the beach, an airport—pretty much anywhere employees find themselves.
As the world’s largest conferencing and collaboration provider, West Unified Communications Services wanted to see just how big this trend has become. We dug into our mobile traffic data to view recent trends and surveyed more than 500 outside, full-time employees to discover their conferencing habits.
What we found was that mobile conferencing is certainly a growing trend and employees are taking full advantage of workplace mobility, sometimes in very unique places.
Mobile Conferencing on the Rise
But first, let’s take a look at the rise of mobile conferencing in general. As might be expected with the development of new mobile devices, both total mobile calls to conferences and total minutes on a mobile conference call were up in 2013.
Here’s what the Mobile Conferencing Data Shows
- Total mobile calls were up 23 percent from 2011 to 2012 and another 19 percent from 2012 to 2013.
- Total mobile conferencing minutes were up 21 percent 2011 to 2012 and an additional 17 percent rise from 2012 to 2013.
- Around 19.4 percent of total conference call minutes were through mobile devices in 2011. That number has now crept up to 21.2 percent in 2013.
We know that mobile conferencing allows for greater flexibility but our survey showed us just how flexible workers can be while “attending” a conference call via their mobile device. In fact, 82 percent of respondents admitted to working on unrelated items while on a conference call. The ability to multi-task may be why 64 percent of workers actually preferred joining a conference via a mobile device over a landline.
Workers Like Flexibility and Multitasking of Mobile Conferencing
Our survey found that workers take full advantage of the multitasking opportunities that mobile conferencing provides. respondents claimed to be doing all kinds of other tasks while on a mobile conference call. The multitasking activities included: getting other work done, sending emails, eating, texting, social media, video games, shopping and even going to the restroom.
Mobile devices allow us to be just about anywhere when taking a work call, so we asked respondents to identify the strangest place from which they have ever dialed into a work conference. As it turns out, the restroom was just the tip of the iceberg.
Where is the strangest place you’ve taken a conference call?
- A truck stop bathroom
- McDonald’s Playplace
- The closet of a friend’s house during a party
- The beach … it was a video call so I kept my tablet up so that my bikini didn’t show
- Behind a church during a wedding rehearsal
- The racetrack
- Chasing my dog down the street because she got out of the house
- Disney World Fitting room while trying on clothes
Some of the Conference Call Admissions in the Survey Surprised Us
At least these folks above actually stayed on the call and paid attention. 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 conference call and a brave five percent said they’ve had a friend take a work conference call in their place.
How Gender Effects Conference Call Behavior
We also wanted to find out how demographic information like gender and age affected conferencing habits, specifically regarding mobile dial-ins.
Here’s how men and women compared when dialing in:
- Men are more likely to take calls in the afternoon or evening (51% to 41%)
- Women prefer morning calls (56% to 44%)
- Men are more likely to multi-task (83% to 78%)
- Women are 3x more likely to mute a call to shop online (6% to 2%)
- Men are more likely to use the restroom (50% to 41%)
- Women are more likely to mute a call in order to eat or make food (40% to 32%)
Age Plays a Factor in Conference Call Behavior
- Millennials are much more likely than Gen Xers to prefer a mobile device when dialing into conference calls (76% to 46%)
- Older employees prefer morning calls while younger employees like the afternoon or evening better
- Older employees were also more likely to take a call from the beach or pool, likely because they earn more vacation time due to tenure
Overall, we discovered that mobile devices are changing the way we engage during a work conference. As smartphones and tablets continue to gain popularity and improve features, it’s likely these trends will only continue to grow. As we know, the traditional workday is changing and with it, the way we communicate with co-workers, clients and prospects.