Tech Tuesday: Coke Cuts Voicemail

Take a message. Coca Cola just axed its voicemail. The move, reportedly to “increase productivity,” comes as a number of companies find longtime office necessities are no longer the real thing. Talk about a serious hangup.

Coke isn’t the only company making these changes, but they are the largest. The soft drink maker gave the folks in their Atlanta headquarters the option of opting out–and most did, suggesting things go better without voicemail. The savings were negligible: barely $100,000. The reason, especially among younger employees, the time it takes to listen to messages, write down the phone numbers to respond, and, OMG!, push all those exhausting buttons on their phones. As the New York Times reports, millennials just can’t seem to handle the rigors of voice mail. After all, it requires actually talking to someone. Instead now, the folks at Coke use email and texts to deliver messages.

Noting the trend, other companies are changing the tools they use to communicate. Check out a business card and you won’t find an abundance of contact information anymore. That’s old school, as this discussion thread on Etsy points out. Now, business titles, addresses and multiple phone numbers are as dated as the fax machine you once listed. For example, the CEO of a successful education start-up in the DC suburb of Chevy Chase now only includes the firm’s website and Twitter handle on him cards. A DM may not be personal, but among millennials, it is, as the initials suggest, direct.

Cristian Rennella, co-founder of South American travel comparison company El Mejor Trato, goes even further.  He deleted the company’s email. The reason: studies indicate that reading and responding to emails consumes 28% of the total work week, and on average it takes a whopping 23 minutes and 15 seconds for an individual to return to their original task after checking and responding to an email. So how do they stay in touch?  Rennella and his co-founder created an interactive project management platform that lists all tasks in progress and specifies who’s working on them, what needs to be done, what’s finished, and the amount of time each project should take. No notifications, no distractions, no problem.

The next step may be eliminating the phone part of the so-called SmartPhone all together.  The reason: that New York Times article cites a 2012 PewResearch report that the under 18 demographic doesn’t bother to make voice calls at all. It’s an amazing statistic worth discussing, if only there was someone around to talk about it with.



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