Goodbye to office voice mail?


The emergence of new tools ultimately kicks technology that was once considered indispensable to the curb. Is it time for voice mail to hang it up? M.I.T. research fellow Michael Schrage posed the question in an in article for Harvard Business Review ( “A communications medium that was once essential has become as clunky and irrelevant as Microsoft DOS and carbon paper,” Schrage states.

His sentiments were published in 2013. Two years later, it appears some companies are starting to agree. Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor reports that Coca-Cola and JPMorgan Chase are disconnecting voice mail from their workers’ office landlines as employees increasingly rely on email, instant messaging, cell phones and even text messages to reach the people they need at work. (Client-facing workers, however, will be keeping voice mail.)

JPMorgan stated that nixing voice mail will eventually save some $3.2 million a year, while a Coca-Cola spokeswoman told Bloomberg that savings would be minimal. Their decision, she said, was more about simplifying the way people work.

“I can’t remember the last time someone left a voice mail on my desk phone that was important. I also can’t remember the last time someone returned a voice mail I left faster than they got back to me on an email I sent,” McGregor states.

Once voice mail is removed, callers will receive a scripted message that provides useful information for how to best reach the person, be it an email address or a phone number to text.

“After all,” says McGregor, “the allure of eliminating voice mail isn’t that it would make us harder to reach, but that we would have one less inbox to manage — especially one that’s time-consuming and archaic.