‘Phone tag’ is costing businesses €700m a year

25 Jan 2008

The endless leaving of voicemails and playing ‘phone tag’ that is the lot of the modern office worker is costing the Irish economy almost €700m a year, new research claims.

Research commissioned by communications companies Damovo and Ericsson, and conducted by Empathy Research, estimates €693m is being lost to the Irish economy on an annual basis as a result of time-wasting by office workers trying and failing to contact customers and colleagues.

The survey of 550 adults showed that Irish office workers spend an average of 73 minutes a week leaving voicemails and playing phone tag.

Damovo Ireland managing director John McCabe said the €693m figure was derived from CSO figures that show there are 433,000 office workers in Ireland with an average gross weekly wage of €952.

The survey results show that if 728,000 person-weeks are being lost nationally every year then €693m is being lost in the economy.

McCabe says it is remarkable so much time and money is still being lost by Irish businesses due to inefficient communications.

He says that with so many people using online chat and web video tools such as Skype to enhance communications in their personal lives, it is time to improve real-time collaboration in the workplace too.

“Presence technologies and unified communications that would tell would-be callers whether you are at your desk, on the phone or on a call would allow people to get on with their work and be productive in other ways.”

He said 24pc of Irish office workers are now using unified communications technologies in their work and 91pc of those who use tools such as instant messaging and internet telephony find them useful for their work.

He said progressive Irish organisations have rolled out instant messaging, videoconferencing and shared web applications to the desktops of all employees.

McCabe added that this creates a much more productive work environment, with colleagues and customers working together on the same document, at the same time, from different locations.

“This can also dramatically reduce mileage and travel expenses for many organisations, with a positive knock-on effect for the environment.

“Public sector organisations are fortunate to have the government VPN to allow them to take advantage of these tools. In order that companies in the private sector can enjoy the same opportunities, there will have to be more concerted efforts to make high-speed, low-cost broadband available to businesses and homes throughout the country.”

McCabe said that Damovo has deployed a pilot rollout of a unified communications environment at the Revenue Commissioners.

“Ireland is currently languishing behind many of our European neighbours when it comes to the quality of our broadband infrastructure. This needs to be rectified or we will lose competitiveness,” McCabe noted.

By John Kennedy