No matter what resources you might happen to have in your toolbox, good communication probably matters more than them all. That said, with advanced technology, 24/7 operations and global networks all entering the playing field, the game of keeping in touch looks very different than it did even a few decades ago. As part of its recent rebrand, global CaaS company Voxbone conducted a survey of 300 U.S.-based employees to find out the state of communications in today's workplace.

The results

Much of what Voxbone found is encouraging. For example,

  • Companies are seeing fewer borders and taking advantage of expertise from all over the world. Over 30 percent of U.S.-based conference calls have international numbers.
  • Workers have more flexibility in their communications than ever. More than a third of respondents regularly connected to conference calls on the go via their mobile device.
  • Customers value having help in their own communities. 58 percent of respondents said they wouldn't or wouldn't be likely to do business with a company that doesn't offer a customer support phone number in their city.

But some of it raises the question about just how effectively we're all able to draw clear boundaries and balance voice communications with face-to-face, in-person interactions.

  • Nearly half (45 percent) of workplace meetings happen via conference calls.
  • 9 out of 10 respondents are on at least one conference call every single week.
  • More than 1 out of 5 conference calls goes longer than 45 minutes.
  • More than half of employees mute their calls, meaning they're likely not participating and are, therefore, probably less engaged.

People might need a little more training on how their services work, too (or at the very least, better focus).

  • 44 percent of respondents have thought they were muted when they weren't.

But maybe the best finding out of the whole survey?

  • 1 out of 4 respondents have taken a conference call in the bathroom.

Thaaaaaat might explain all the muting.

What's behind the numbers

Voxbone's CEO, Itay Rosenfeld, says that workers of every stripe need both simplicity and flexibility in their communications.

"Conferencing is playing a greater role in team collaboration," Rosenfeld explains, "and so the tools need to adapt to the workers' schedules, not the other way around. That means being able to join a conference call--whether from the office bathroom or a beach in Thailand--as easily as possible.

"Most importantly, this ethos extends to the businesses themselves--establishing a local presence in new parts of the world, connecting with customers via voice and SMS, and leveraging voice analytics. [...] With coverage in countries like India and China, Voxbone serves more than 90 percent of the world's GDP. We're giving growing businesses a better chance to connect globally and tap into new markets in less time and with a greater reach."

Looking forward

Rosenfeld asserts that, like other facets of business communications, conference calls will become increasingly integrated into larger ecosystems, working seamlessly with tools like Slack and Salesforce. Global coverage and accessibility will continue to grow in importance, too.

"We know the phone plays a major role in the workplace," Rosenfeld asserts, "but as we implement speech recording and analytics we'll see a greater amount of value coming from conference calls, as data that would otherwise go untapped can be used to improve operations. Video quality is getting better by the day, and new layers like augmented reality will transform the conference call from just an alternative to in-person meetings to becoming an enhanced and preferred collaboration experience. Whether they're working in different hemispheres or even if they're just couple steps down the hall, we can expect to see a steady increase of people hosting their meetings in the cloud."