Why the Work Phone Call Deserves a Place

Old Rotary Telephone

I have always loved that romantic image in movies with the high-powered executive taking business telephone calls while on a treadmill. The image leaves us with the impression that we can get work done while working on ourselves. It portrays a strong character that can take on the world with endless energy and it displays multitasking as its finest. It inspires us to rise above the grind and gives us the possibility that we can have it all…leading me to reimagine why the phone call deserves a place. Surely taking a video call while running on a treadmill would be an overly sweaty sight most of us would rather not partake in.

Why We Love Video Calls

Ever since Covid-19 graced us with its unwanted presence, the need for video calls has exploded. Video calls have dominated the work-from-home culture and have allowed us to carry on business just as we did in person. Instead of spending the time and money to meet in person, much of the business world has discovered we can do it just as well via a computer screen. But just as video calls have sprouted like weeds, the work phone call seems to have become an endangered species. But before I tell you why the work phone call deserves a place, let me be clear, there is a place for video calls too.

Video calls connect us in a way that a phone call cannot. They allow for a more in-person-like form of communication as if we are meeting someone through the computer screen. We see each other’s faces; we are privy to each other’s visual cues and involuntary reactions. The functionality allows us to share screens to review documents together and informs us of who would like to talk next. While video calling software normally has a small price tag, it is much cheaper than the cost of multiple flights and hotels for an in-person meeting. Here is a list of statistics that shows us just how helpful video calls are.

Why We Hate Video Calls

While video calls have made a substantial impact on businesses, it’s not all good news. According to Employee Benefit News (EBN), “95% of workers are now feeling fatigued from video meetings, and 81% say they have physical ailments like neck and shoulder pain, headaches, eye strain, blurry vision, ringing ears, sore throat or voice hoarseness and general aches and pains, the survey found.” While video calls have a place, too much of it puts a strain on employees and negatively impacts health.

Video calls can be challenging both physically and mentally. Getting on a video call is posing for a close-up for an extended period of time while using your brain. Instead of being in a conference room six feet away from the person across from you, you are under the video call microscope. And unless you are one of those talented professionals who can work with a standing desk, you are glued to your chair for the duration.

No matter how interesting your video call is, we all get to a point where our eyes glaze over. It is difficult to sit still for a long period of time staring at a computer screen. Humans were never meant to stare at computer screens all day, but that is just the reality of today’s jobs in numerous industries.

We all need to communicate. In-person is not always an option and is often impractical. Emails and texts only get us so far. Communicating solely by writing can leave too much room for misinterpretation and sometimes what we think will be a “quick” email leads to a long email chain with an issue still left unresolved, leading to more lost time. Sometimes, we just need to pick up the phone. Which is why the work phone call deserves a place.

Why the Work Phone Call Deserves a Place.

When you take a call on your phone, you are not tied in chains to your desk. While at times you may need to reference a document on your computer or notes on a pad of paper, you aren’t destined for a life sentence in a desk chair. You can get up and walk around. While I realize this may be a glorious concept that may not work at all offices, it is worth considering.

Movement is magical. It allows us to think more creatively. And sometimes a problem you face at work is best solved by a little creativity. According to a Stanford study, creative output increases 60% when walking compared to sitting. Just a little bit of walking can translate into much more creative solutions at work.
I know that a walking work call is not always realistic, but I propose, when you can…give that walking work call a chance. You never know what new ideas might pop into your head!

Now you know why the work phone call still deserves a chance, but if video calls are still taking over your day, here are some helpful tips to beat “Zoom Fatigue” from Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (read more here):

  1. Give yourself some space from staring at your close-ups by decreasing the size of your window and consider using an external keyboard so you are further away from your camera.
  2. After confirming the video of yourself is properly displaying, consider clicking “hide self-view” if seeing yourself on video is causing you anxiety.
  3. To combat the lack of mobility on video calls, try rethinking your setup. External cameras may allow you to walk around or stand during your calls.
  4. During long meetings, take audio-only breaks where you look away from the video screen to reduce the “cognitive load.” This allows us to take a break from looking at others’ non-verbal cues that can be “socially meaningless” during a long video call.

You may not be able to control how many hours a day you are on video calls at work. But if you are stuck on a problem this week or have a shortage of good ideas, go for a walk. Ideally, you can take a long walk on your lunch break, but even just a walk to the bathroom or a lap around the office can help.

Thank you for reading Why the Work Phone Call Deserves a Place. I want to hear from you! Do you find yourself stuck at your desk for most of the day? Or are you on your feet for most of the day? Is the work phone call still alive and well at your office? Or do you take most of your meetings on video?

Don’t forget to follow us!





13 responses to “Why the Work Phone Call Deserves a Place”

  1. Richard McGrath Avatar
    Richard McGrath

    All of those options are good but there is still no better way than in person face to face meetings. Old school man ! !

    1. Shannon Z Sawyer Avatar
      Shannon Z Sawyer

      Face to face is great, I agree!

    2. Meghan M Avatar

      I agree there are a lot of great benefits to in-person meetings. It is much easier to build relationships!

  2. Erin Avatar

    Somethings can be solved so much faster and come across more personal with a simple quick phone call. I find myself reaching for the phone more these days then when I started my “new” sit down job.

    1. Meghan M Avatar

      Yes! Sometimes it is easier just to pick up the phone for a quick call!

  3. Shannon Z Sawyer Avatar
    Shannon Z Sawyer

    ahhh – my entire day is video calls! this resonates with me so much. I bought a standing desk a couple years ago, so I like to at least stand up for a few calls throughout the day

    1. Meghan M Avatar

      That is great that you are using a stand up desk to switch up your day!

  4. Abby Avatar

    I often wonder why I do Zoom meetings vs. a phone call when half the attendees have their cameras off. Although I have to admit, I too appreciate the “video off” option on occasion!

    1. Meghan M Avatar

      Attendees definitely seem to have their preferences about the video on/off button!

  5. Victoria Avatar

    I appreciate the video call for sharing images/slides! But I actually am on my walking pad for a lot of calls these days 🙂

    1. Meghan M Avatar

      Yes, video calls are super helpful for screen sharing. Thank you for sharing about your walking pad – that must be wonderful!

  6. Linda B Avatar
    Linda B

    I find video calls for business meetings are invaluable if a participant can not attend in person. They do get to participate. However, I have found that in person meetings are better than zoom meetings for sharing ideas and brainstorming. The people I work with seem to be more open and spontanious in a face to face meeting. This maybe because our meetings are only monthly and we did not become fully comfortabe with them. I wonder if those who use them daily note any diffrence in the quality of the meeting?

    1. Meghan M Avatar

      You bring up so many good points as to why video calls are so beneficial! I especially appreciate your point about in-person meetings being better for sharing ideas and brainstorming. While you can still share ideas and brainstorm during video calls, I find a lot of the best sharing of ideas happens on breaks at in-person meetings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *