Study: People Aren’t Paying Attention During Conference Calls


In your last conference call were you distracted by work unrelated to the discussion? Were you sending emails and eating while people were speaking in the background? As it turns out, you are part of the majority.

In fact, a recent survey of 530 office workers reports that more than 60 percent of respondents have done other work during conference calls. A new study reported by Hardvard Business Review, shows that most people are not paying attention to conference calls.


The top three things people do during conference calls

  • 65% other work
  • 62% sending an email
  • 55% eating/making food


Statistics clearly show that people use the time spent on conference calls to focus unrelated activities rather than the conference call. Just under half the respondents said that they’ve used the restroom during a conference call. One in four people said that they’ve played video games during a call, and one in ten have exercised.


 conference call statistics









Mobile conferencing is on the rise, with an increase of total mobile calls to conferences of 19% in 2013.  64% of people responding to this survey said that they prefer taking a conference call on a mobile device over a landline. 82% of the people who prefer using mobile devices admitted that they work on unrelated items while on a conference call.

Mobile devices provide people the flexibility to take a conference call from anywhere, which is why survey takers were also asked about some of the strangest places where they’ve joined a call from. Survey answers included a truck stop bathroom, Disney World, in the middle of the woods during a hiking trip, and at the racetrack. Perhaps mobile technology gives too much flexibility.

But mobile technology is not the only technology that is enabling people to focus on other tasks while on a conference call. The survey also showed that 80% of surveyors are more likely to mute themselves when using a mobile device rather than a landline.


mute statistics conference calls







Still not surprised? According to the same study, 39% of employees admitted to dropping off a call without announcing it so that they can pretend to have participated the whole time. 27 % of respondents also admitted that they have fallen asleep during a conference call, and 5% have had a friend take their place on the call.

These statistics clearly show that most people do not find conference calls important enough to dedicate their undivided attention. This does not mean that conference calls are pointless and unproductive. According to a survey by RW3, 70% of workers say virtual meetings do not work because those on the call fail to give input.

Most businesses are running into two issues; either they are creating too many conference calls, or the conference calls are unproductive. Often it’s a combination of both. The problem lies at the facilitation of the call. Is a conference call the appropriate medium for this discussion? Are all the attendees absolutely necessary for this conference call? Are facilitators doing enough to get participants involved? These are just a few questions people should ask themselves before sending out invitations to their next meeting. Businesses need to start focusing on leading shorter and more productive conference calls.


Related Articles

Posted in: