Irish office workers are losing the ‘gift of the gab’ and talk less and less to colleagues and customers, preferring to hide behind modern technologies like email, instant messaging and voicemail.
A survey carried out by communications technology firm Damovo found 41pc of Irish office workers prefer to email colleagues, customers and suppliers instead of talking on the phone.
According to Damovo Ireland boss, John McCabe, there is a danger that workers are becoming over-reliant on email and this could eventually damage customer relationships.
“It seems we are losing the gift of the gab. For a nation that likes to talk, and is renowned for verbal communications skills, we should be actively encouraging people to talk more,” McCabe explained.
“I do believe we build better relationships person-to-person than through email. In particular, our customer relationships, and indeed overall ability to provide effective service may be damaged unless we prioritise talking.”
“Dangers posed by over-reliance on email include time being wasted from never-ending email reply loops, people hiding behind email and important emails being missed among the deluge of the irrelevant.
“Email can also lead to misinterpretation as it does not convey intent and meaning in the same way that voices and faces do, and critically, email is also both impulsive and indelible and that’s a particularly dangerous combination.”
After email, 32pc of Irish workers prefer to communicate at face-to-face meetings, 19pc via their desk phone and 4pc by mobile phone.
When people are unavailable to receive a communication, their preferred way to receive the message is via email, with 56pc preferring this option.
Desk-phone voicemail ranked second at 20pc, with mobile phone voicemail following at 11pc, text messages at 7pc and others at 6pc.
Despite this, talking is still more popular in Irish offices than in the UK, where an earlier Damovo survey of 1,000 office workers in the UK revealed 65pc of respondents favoured email as a means for communicating at work.
McCabe believes it is vitally important for organisations to positively encourage employees to talk more.
“The research shows there is significant value in considering how the implementation of new technology can positively encourage employees to talk more.
“Unified communications, contact centre, voice recording and presence technologies all have a meaningful role to play in helping to bring conversation back to its rightful place.”
By John Kennedy