Friday, March 14, 2008

Hack Your Desk Phone - Filter Calls To Voicemail

By Jon:

I don't know if everyone has one of these contraptions these days, but many desk jobbers are forced to respond to the beck and whim of the dreaded office phone. It's a voicemail receptacle, an instant communicator for those ignorant of IM or email, and a major distraction against productivity.

I rarely use my desk phone to make calls and I've come to dread it's familiar ring. To help cut back on calls and help increase my productivity, I have permanently enabled the "Send Calls" function on my phone. This function is found on most desk phones and sends all incoming calls to voicemail.

Now, it's not total communication shutoff -- you hear half a ring, the caller's name appears, and you have about 10 seconds to answer before voicemail takes over. On the caller's end, they hear a beep and then a ring; this also occurs when you're on the other line. As such, most people associate this sound with the latter and think you're on another call.

Most people, upon hearing this, either hang up or leave a voicemail. There's a slim group that I always pick up for, but a majority of my calls I don't answer anymore. The majority of those I ignore send me an email, and a slim few leave a voicemail, while one or two choose to pay my office a visit...!

For the most part, this has become an incredible filter for me and has saved immense amounts of time. I like this method better than a rambling voicemail greeting about my preference for colleagues to email me; it's not as rude and allows you a chance to answer the phone. Do you have methods of dealing with your phone calls too? Does your desk phone have a Send Calls button? Do you even have a desk phone?


James said...

I don't know, I'm not sure if I could get away with this at my job... as an incoming phone rep I'm pretty much expected to answer the phone all the time.

Kirsten said...

Jon, have you ever been questioned as to why you're not answering your phone? What do you tell your boss?

Jon @ The Corporate Hack said...

Hey James and Kirsten,

Thanks for visiting the Hack. As for James' comment, that's a fine point -- if your job requires you to use the phone day in and day out, you're pretty much stuck using it. My job doesn't, so I cut it back as much as possible. To that end, I'd try to find something in your worklife that could be reduced, be it meetings, email, or the like.

Kirsten - I get questioned about it from time to time, and it's never been an issue. Most times people don't know what it is, and they're confused by it; I tend to just brush it off with a passing comment and get to the meat of our discussion.