According to Virgin Media Business, landline phones could well be disappearing from the workplace in the next five years, with 65% of 500 chief information officers surveyed saying they believed that landline phone systems would be obsolete before the turn of the next decade. With more and more importance being placed on smartphones and VOIP systems, which run through the internet, is the landline on its way out?
Mobile technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, with smartphones being used to deal with all number of tasks, from emails to calculations and business analysis in the form of apps. With the landline only being able to deal with normal phonecalls, they are soon becoming less and less cost-effective to run with their single function.
Landlines also don’t reflect the flexible working conditions of today’s workplace. While an office worker can take their mobile with them if they have to step away from their desk, the landline has to stay put, meaning a frustrating loop of missed calls, answerphone messages and phones left to ring while the desk owners are elsewhere.
In an age where email tends to take precedence, speaking on the phone at all is becoming less and less important. At a time when people need to send emails with attachments, confidential information and lengthy documents, using a landline is becoming redundant. People often want hard records of their correspondence, which means that lots of important conversations take place over email rather than on the phone.
Smartphones these days act more like mini computers than actual phones. While, of course, the phone functionality is essential, the fact that one device can offer so many different functions to the businessperson makes it a much more desirable option. If an office worker can carry round one little machine to stay in touch with everyone at once, this can surely only be a good thing. They can use it to store documents, to fire off emails on the move and to stay in touch if they’re running late for a meeting, so they’re multifunctional.
Many offices now provide each member of staff with their own company mobile phone, meaning each person can be contacted by colleagues and clients on the go without having to give up their own personal mobile number. People know that office jobs don’t necessarily involve sitting at a desk all day anymore, so it can be reassuring for clients to know that they can get in touch with their main point of contact throughout the working day no matter where they are.
While many offices will retain the landline for the sake of keeping their clients happy that there is a stable base they can get in touch with, in reality it is unlikely that most workplaces will find much use for them. The switch to the smartphone-only office would most likely be quick and painless, and nobody would especially mourn the loss of the trusty old landline.
Carl Paxton is a specialist business telecommunications consultant who has been spending time studying the changing face of telecoms in the workplace