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What People Are Really Doing When They’re on a Conference Call

Posted on by Brandon Klein

HBR Blog
What People Are Really Doing When They’re on a Conference Call

by Gretchen Gavett  |   2:11 PM AugustIf you’re reading this while on a conference call — perhaps even in the loo — you’re not alone. It turns out many U.S. employees would rather do just about anything rather than listen intently to their coworkers from a remote location.

According to InterCall, the world’s largest conference call company — it’s used by 85% of Fortune 100 firms — the percentage of people using mobile phones to dial into conference calls has been rising steadily over the past three years, from 19.4% of all calls in 2011 to 21.2% in 2013.

While this may not be especially surprising — most of your colleagues probably have an iPhone or other such device — the things people do while on conference calls are, well, illuminating. InterCall surveyed 530 Americans to identify some of these activities, 64% of whom said they prefer using a cell phone over a regular old ringer.

And it’s no wonder why. Aside from the convenience, people often find conference calls to be an opportune time to do many, many other things: