Small businesses and startups are foregoing landlines and going exclusively with cell phones.
Just as the rotary phone and the princess phone are a thing of the past, the desk phone may soon join them.
With thousands and perhaps millions of Americans foregoing ownership of a landline to make phone calls from home, corporate America appears to be following suit. Especially with the innumerous startups and small businesses being created today, companies are cutting costs by eliminating or just never signing up for a landline telephone service.
Crain’s Chicago Business Journal reported on the numerous companies in the Windy City who are operating with a minimal or non-existent landline service. Their story used the example of the data science company Civis Analytics, a Near West Side business with 100 employees and only one landline at its reception desk.
“If it rings twice an hour, that’s a lot,’’ said vice president of operations Lisa Rodriguez.
Employees talk to each other through Internet connections, use a message service for large group discussions and connect with cellphones and laptops into a speaker box for client calls.
As Crain’s notes, a desk phone simply does not move, and that does not work in today’s interactive and collaborative workplace.
It’s not just small companies cutting the cord (or never having it installed in the first place). The advertising agency Leo Burnett in Chicago has more than 1,600 employees and they all have Bluetooth headsets. Voicemails to unanswered phones are immediately transcribed and sent via email.
Life for landlines changed twice, first with the invention of the cellphone, then with the development and installation of fiber cabling over cooper cabling. As Google and others install fiber cabling, it is easier for calls to be transferred to mobile technology, including phones, tablets and other devices. It also is the enabling device that allows for voicemail to be transcribed and sent to email accounts.
All of these changes work best for companies looking to hire young Millennials, for whom a stationary phone is a thing they last saw in their eighth grade visit to the Smithsonian. Millennials also rarely leave voice mails and rarely listen to voice mails left, making the voice mail transcription service invaluable in the workplace.
According to IDC, a telecommunications market research firm, 75 percent of all employees in the country will be completely communications-mobile by 2020. That’s just four years away.
Besides the cost factor, which is significant, a completely mobile phone system in which work numbers can be transferred into personal cell phones allows a company representative to make a call from the company’s main number no matter where that company representative actually is.
While all of this makes sense from a corporate standpoint, as younger workers replace older ones at a dramatic pace, the phone cord-cutting takes a different turn when it becomes personal.
The Federal Communication commission estimates that 40 percent of Americans today live without a landline in their homes. That number is expected to rise significantly, and the shift may actually be forced upon some landline users.
Across the country, people living in rural areas are receiving notification from telephone companies that they will no longer offer new traditional landline-based service, aiming to eventually eliminate the service when older customers pass away or move out of the area.
Customers are being urged to switch to wireless or high-speed service. The phone companies will save millions if they no longer need to maintain the landline equipment, but older residents are fighting the change.
“Some of them like their landline, and they like it just the way it is,’’ said Carbon Hill, Ala. City Clerk Janice Pendley, who has taken the calls from customers who have been apprised of the change in service by AT&T.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.