What People are Really Doing on Mobile Conference Calls

As the global business environment has become more and more mobile, so have conference calls. Growth and new technology in web and phone conferencing allow employees to conduct more work from home or on the road, from meetings to interviews to team collaboration. More people are dialing in from mobile phones than ever to join in on a meeting or event from virtually anywhere—truly everywhere, as we’ll find out.

West Unified Communications Services conducted a fascinating survey of over 500 employees regarding their conferencing habits, and we think some will surprise you! Take a look at these results and see if you’ve experienced some of these habits and trends of mobile conferencing.

Employees join calls from all kinds of places

Dialing into a conference from a mobile phone or tablet means you can be nearly anywhere, as long as you have phone service or WiFi connection. People take full advantage of this luxury, especially when they have a day off but still need to join in on a call or meeting.

Check out the most unusual places that respondents of the survey have taken a conference call:

  • “Fitting room while trying on clothes”
  • “In the middle of the woods during a hiking trip”
  • “Outside while grilling and getting a tan”
  • “At a pool in Las Vegas”
  • “The closet of a friend’s house during a party”
  • “A truck stop bathroom”
  • “The tunnel leading to NYC”
  • “Hospital ER”
  • “McDonald’s Playplace”
  • “DisneyWorld”
  • “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”

What’s the strangest place you’ve taken a conference call from? Being on a mobile device lets us join in even when we’re stuck in an unusual place or caught in an unexpected situation.

People love to multitask

It’s inevitable—as much as the host of a conference call might want every participant giving their full attention to the call, the ability and temptation to multitask on a mobile conference call is often overpowering. 82% of the employees surveyed said they’ve worked on unrelated items while on a conference call.

Here are some of the things the employees in the survey say they have done while on a call:

  • 65% do other work
  • 63% send an email
  • 55% eat or make food
  • 47% go to the restroom
  • 44% text
  • 43% check social media
  • 25% play video games
  • 21% shop online
  • 9% exercise
  • 6% take another phone call

Sound familiar to you? You may not want to admit it, but you’ve likely participated in a few of these things while on a conference call, too. We all enjoy the freedom that mobile calling gives us to multitask and go about our work day more seamlessly.

Everyone has a “whoops” moment

We all have days at work where it seems particularly difficult to keep up with projects, make it to meetings, and just plain stay awake. That’s a forgiving excuse for these employees who admitted to a few surprising—but not altogether unusual—faux pas related to skipping out on their conference call obligations.

  • 39% dropped off a call without announcing it to pretend they stayed
  • 29% took work conference calls from the beach or pool
  • 27% fell asleep during a conference call
  • 13% have been “outed” for taking a call in a place other than where they claimed to be
  • 5% had a friend take a work conference call in their place

Whoops! It’s okay to admit it if any of these common situations has happened to you, too. (Though you should probably avoid them in the future if you can!)

Habits differ by gender

Men and women might participate in conference calls slightly differently, whether they’re in the office or on the go. According to the survey, gender differences are correlated with differing habits regarding multitasking and preferred conferencing times.

  • Women are more likely to take calls on a mobile device over a landline (67% of women to 62% of men)
  • Men are more likely to take calls in the afternoon or evening (51% to 41%)
  • Women prefer to take calls in the morning (56% to 44%)
  • Men do more multitasking during a conference call (83% to 78%)
  • Women are more likely to mute a conference call to eat or make food (40% to 32%)
  • Men are more likely to go to the bathroom while on a conference call (50% to 41%)
  • Women are more likely to mute the call to shop online (6% to 2%)

Have you noticed that you or others in your office fall into these gendered patterns? While the differences are slight, you might see how the habits of each person taking a conference call are unique.

Age alters conference tendencies

Ways of doing business are frequently affected by the age demographic of employees and leaders of a company. Unsurprisingly, Millennials (18-25 years old) have embraced mobile conferencing more than Gen X-ers (36-45 years old): 76% of Millennials say they prefer to take calls on a mobile device compared to just 47% of Gen X.

Younger employees also prefer later conference call times in the afternoon or evening, compared to older age groups who report a preference for morning calls. However, older employees are more likely to take their calls from the pool or beach! This is likely due to the fact that they have worked at their place of business for longer and thus earned more vacation time.

Mobile creates more courtesy?

While many of these survey findings have shed a light on some of the less courteous or professional habits of employees taking mobile conference calls, there’s one good thing for everyone involved on the call: 80% of employees are more likely to mute their line when on a mobile device than a landline.

This is really crucial for keeping a call running smoothly, productively, and ending on time. If a host hasn’t muted all participants’ lines automatically, many forget to mute themselves individually. When this happens, callers end up broadcasting side conversations, eating and drinking noises, and other loud background sounds to the whole group on the call.

When employees mute themselves on a mobile call, they do so for the following common reasons:

  • Eliminate background noise (69%)
  • Talk to someone else (65%)
  • Go to the restroom (50%)
  • Eat or make food (35%)
  • Take another phone call (18%)

So, even though these people are multitasking and not giving the call their full attention, at least they’re not disrupting everyone else when doing so!

Mobile conferences are taking over

The main takeaway of these findings is that mobile devices are dominating the world of conference calls, and the proof is in the numbers: 75% of employees reported that they joined at least one conference from a mobile phone in the last month. 64% said they prefer taking a conference call on a mobile device instead of a landline.

The numbers from 2011 to 2013 show just how much mobile device usage for conference calls has increased over time:

  • Total mobile calls to conferences increased 23% from 2011 to 2012, and another 19% from 2012 to 2013.
  • The number of minutes people spent on mobile conferencing went up 21% from 2011 to 2012, with an additional 17% increase from 2012 to 2013.
  • Of the total number of minutes spent on conference calls in general, 21.2% of those minutes were spent via mobile devices, up from 20.8% in 2012 and 19.4% in 2011.

It’s clear that many more people are choosing to join conferences remotely, and the simplest way to do so is through a mobile device. A smartphone or tablet makes it easy for employees to access a meeting from anywhere, whether they’re in the office, on the road, or even enjoying their day off. While this gives way to inevitable distractions, mobile employees seem to enjoy the freedom to multitask while also staying considerate of their fellow call attendees’ experience by muting their line when disruptions come up.

These numbers and findings shed some new light on the way mobile conferencing seems to be taking over the industry. Some of the answers really surprised us! You can check out the full infographic for this survey below and at full size here. You can also learn more about our phone conferencing, web conferencing, and audio streaming services from Conference Calls Unlimited to start enjoying the convenience of mobile conferencing for yourself!