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Wasting time on conference calls costs the UK more than £26 billion every year

Technology issues and distractions mean that professionals waste up to 15 minutes on every conference call – and the practice is costing the UK more than £26 billion every year, according to a report by LoopUp.

While face-to-face meetings still have a place, conference calling is increasingly the preferred contact method for busy employees, saving time and money. However, despite the comparatively poor user experience it appears that most people (61 per cent of the 1,000 US and UK employees who responded) still prefer to dial in using numbers and codes, rather than relying on new technologies that they may be unfamiliar with.

More than two-thirds of conference calls use a fixed-line phone; only 22 per cent of people regularly use their mobile device, and only seven per cent use VoIP systems. This is a stark contrast to the way that the business world is moving, away from fixed-line and towards mobile and IP systems.

The majority of conference calls are still limited to voice-only; fewer than 30 per cent of respondents told LoopUp that they use web conferencing (a call with a visual component). 71 per cent of calls, meanwhile, are either audio-only or require participants to share files over email.

Complexity was named as the main factor against adopting web conferencing, with 86 per cent saying that they would use it if it were no more difficult than ‘emailing out the slides’. Time wasted while waiting for everyone to get set up was also, ironically, a concern.

Security gap

Conference calls are not often considered for their security implications, but can lead to potentially massive breaches. Take the 2012 case of Anonymous eavesdropping on an FBI call to Scotland Yard, simply by using the dial-in codes from an email. 70 per cent of respondents said that it was common to discuss confidential information on such calls, and half said that it was ‘normal’ not to know who was logged in and listening.

To close the security gap and cut down on wasted time and money, LoopUp recommends looking for conference call software providers that can deliver simple, user-friendly experiences, which emphasises usability instead of feature expansion. Moving users away from dial-in is similarly important, instead adopting services such as dial-out that offer control over attendees.

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