The office phone looks set to join cassettes, videos and dial-up internet in the technology graveyard as one in four British adults admit they are too nervous to use the landline telephone, according to new research by business communications firm Daisy Group plc.
The findings emerged in a study of 2,000 office workers, and shows 28 per cent avoid human contact, preferring to shun the phone at all costs.
Most common fears of using the phone at work include never knowing who is on the other end, the worry of being caught off guard and the uncertainty of whether they'll be able to help whoever is calling.
Indeed, 53 per cent of workers prefer to conduct the majority of their business over email wherever possible. And one in six people choose to ignore ALL incoming calls on the landline at work – unless it is completely unavoidable.
Younger workers are demonstrating a real avoidance of personal interaction, with 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds revealing that they lack confidence on the telephone, compared to 10 per cent of over 55s. The same number of 18-24 year olds (35 per cent) said they avoided using the landline at work altogether, preferring to interact over email instead.
Andrew Goldwater, Commercial Director at Daisy, which conducted the research in conjunction with the launch of its web and audio conferencing solution, said: "Increasingly, people are shying away from human contact in the office, particularly younger workers, and we're starting to see the demise of the business landline and traditional office phone as a result.
"Today's younger office workers are far more tech savvy having been exposed to major advancements in mobile and online communications, which has in turn removed the need to use a traditional communications methods such as the desk phone."
Across all age groups, a quarter of those surveyed admitted they lack confidence on the phone and as a result, on average, only six calls each day are made from their desk phones.
More a strain than a convenience; a third of people admitted that they use the telephone more in the office than anywhere else simply "because it's their job".
Other reasons why office staff avoid using the telephone include feeling too self-conscious (30 per cent), and disliking the possibility of confrontation (21 per cent).
A further 34 per cent like to have time to prepare an answer to a query, while one in 10 always think someone is calling to make a complaint.
Interestingly, 16 per cent of people are meant to use the telephone at work more than they actually do. The same percentage have been caught out by the boss for not using the landline enough, and one in 10 have even received a warning for their reluctance to answer calls. But confidence issues mean that people will go to any lengths to avoid using the telephone.
A third of Brits have pretended reception was bad so they could hang up on someone and one in 10 faked going through a tunnel. One in five people pretended they had to run into an urgent meeting, while the same percentage claimed they had to pick up another line. One in twenty people have been so desperate to end a call they have acted out hissing and buzzing noises through the handset, and then hung up.
Andrew continued: "As the technology for personal communications has advanced, so too has it for business communications. Web and audio conferencing is one technology that is growing in popularity due to its ability to fuse desk and mobile communications. And who knows, perhaps thanks to such technologies we may start to see human contact making a comeback in the office."
TOP 10 PHONE EXCUSES:
- "I don't want to be caught off guard"
- "I like to have time to prepare an answer"
- "I don't know who is ringing"
- "I might not be able to help the person calling"
- "I'm simply too nervous"
- "I'm too self-conscious"
- "I don't like the possibility of confrontation"
- "I can never hear people on the other end properly"
- "I find it hard taking messages for others"
- "People are always calling me to complain"