Actually, Phone Calls Are Thriving, Not Dying

call chart

Photo: Economist via IDATE and Ofcom

When an office phone rings, most people cringe.  They’d rather deal with issues via email or text on their own time. There’s no denying that new, preferred forms of communication have tampered with the amount of phone calls people make. But dialling is definitely not dying, and it is still a vital form of communication.

In fact, Ofcom, a British telecoms regulator, has data that shows mobile and fixed phone minutes have increased in recent years (see chart on the top right from The Economist).

“The time people spend talking on a fixed telephone has gone down in recent years in nearly all rich countries for which the International Telecommunication Union has data,” The Economist reports. “Yet in most, this fall is more than offset by the increase in mobile calls.” 

While speaking on the phone may no longer be a favoured form of communication, it is still the most efficient. Research has shown that 50% of all email communication gets misinterpreted.  Another recent study found that 70-five per cent of subjects were able to correctly decipher phone messages as opposed to just 50-six per cent when it came to emails.

“I think e-mail is very often disruptive in corporate cultures,” says Kasper Rorsted, Chief Executive of Henkel. “You sit next to people and send e-mail to each other instead of walking over or making a call or just trying to look for the personal interaction….It’s very efficient, but I am convinced that e-mail does not replace presence. You can get into a great argument in e-mail because people can read whatever they want into the words. It takes two minutes to pick up the phone, so I try to encourage that as much as I can.”

Venture Capitalist Mark Suster agrees. “Go pick up the phone and stop hiding behind e-mails,” he writes on his blog. “You build real relationships on the phone and in person.”

If you have phone phobia, you had better get over it. Experts and data have determined it’s not going away.

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