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Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Need a Phone At Your Desk? 445

Posted by samzenpus
from the dial-U-for-useless dept.
First time accepted submitter its a trappist! writes "When I started my career back in the early 1990s, everyone had a 'business phone' phone on their desk. The phone was how your co-workers, customers, friends and family got in touch with you during the business day. It had a few features that everyone used — basic calling, transfer, hold, mute, three-way calling (if you could figure it out). This was before personal mobile phones or corporate IM, so the phone was basically the one and only means of real-time communication in the office. Flash forward 20 years. Today I have a smart phone, corporate IM, several flavors of personal IM, the Skype client and several flavors of collaboration software including Google Apps/Docs, GoToMeeting. My wife and daughter call me or text me on the cell phone. My co-workers who are too lazy or passive aggressive to wander into my office use IM. My brother in Iraq uses Skype. I use GoToMeeting and its built-in VoIP with customers. The big black phone sits there gathering dust. I use it for conference calls a few times each month. I'm sure that there are sales people out there who would rather give up a body part than their trusty office phone, but do any of the rest of us need them? Around here, the younger engineers frequently unplug them and stick them in a cabinet to free up desk space. Are the days of the office phone (and the office phone system) at an end?"
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Need a Phone At Your Desk?

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  • I certainly don't (Score:4, Informative)

    by jevring (618916) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:30AM (#42201965) Homepage
    Like the OP, we use Skype officially at the company. I have even given my phone to my desk neighbor...
    • Well I certainly do (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:51AM (#42202067)

      I have to sometimes make long calls for my work and I *really* don't want to do it on a tinky winky little mobile phone, its bloody uncomfortable. And if I want to use a speakerphone then i'll need the mobile plugged into the wall anyway so the battery doesn't die halfway through and how is that any more convenient that having a landline with a cable? Also our Cisco deskphones have the entire company phonebook available on them which is very convenient. Their only downside is being IP phones , when the local LAN goes down so do all the phones.

      • by GNU(slash)Nickname (761984) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:08AM (#42202145)

        Their only downside is being IP phones , when the local LAN goes down so do all the phones.

        This happens often enough to be an issue?

        • by jevring (618916) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:40AM (#42202301) Homepage
          We have both "normal" landline phones and IP phones, and yes, the IP phone system going down is actually an issue. It happens regularly...
          • by dkf (304284)

            We have both "normal" landline phones and IP phones, and yes, the IP phone system going down is actually an issue. It happens regularly...

            Sounds to me like the issue is more that they don't stay down. Down with 3-hour telecons!

        • by peragrin (659227)

          It was at my previous employer. Of course the problem was "Local Lan" spanned 7 different ISP's to create the VPN Network the company operated under.If the local cable company(who else does high speed?) on average failed once a month it was really noticable.

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          It doesn't happen often , maybe once or twice a year, but its a nuisance when it does.

      • by dintech (998802) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:38AM (#42202295)
        "When I started my career back in the early 1990s, every floor had a 'urinal' in the bathroom. The urinal was how your co-workers, customers, friends and family emptied their bladders during the business day. It had a few features that everyone used — upright pissing position, automatic flush, quick drainage, three-way pissing (if you didn't mind standing close together). This was before personal chamber pots or shitting at work was allowed, so the urinal was basically the one and only means of bladder relief in the office. Flash forward 20 years. Today I have a chamber pot, directors en-suite, several scented flavors of toilet stalls, the squat toilet for foreign visitors and several flavors of collaboration urinals including along against-the-wall ones, center circle ones. My wife and daughter pee on the chamber pot. My co-workers who are too lazy or passive aggressive to put the toilet seat down in the stalls. My brother in Iraq uses the squat toilet. I use the directors toilet with built-in bidet and heated seat. The old along-the-wall urinal sits there gathering dust. I use it for conference calls-of-nature a few times each month. I'm sure that there are sales people out there who would rather give up a body part than their trusty office urinal, but do any of the rest of us need them? Around here, the younger engineers frequently unplug them and stick them in a cabinet to free up desk space, it makes a real fucking mess of the floor. Are the days of the office urinal (and the office urinal plumbing) at an end?"
      • by rvw (755107)

        I have to sometimes make long calls for my work and I *really* don't want to do it on a tinky winky little mobile phone, its bloody uncomfortable. And if I want to use a speakerphone then i'll need the mobile plugged into the wall anyway so the battery doesn't die halfway through and how is that any more convenient that having a landline with a cable? Also our Cisco deskphones have the entire company phonebook available on them which is very convenient. Their only downside is being IP phones , when the local LAN goes down so do all the phones.

        We're a small company with people working for us worldwide. We give them a VOIP phone, and we have an Asterisk phone server, hosted by Amazon. Now what can happen? Amazon can go down, our server at amazon can go down, our own ISP can go down, our own LAN can go down, and the phones can simply break (and they do). Of course, when we have a problem at our LAN, that has no effect for the other phones. For incoming calls we use another service provider, who links a public phone number to the VOIP network. If th

      • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:50AM (#42202351)

        Company Phonebook aside... a direct phone number is the easiest way to get ahold of people.

        Cell phones are also the devil. If you ever actually want to work a 9-5 and only more when absolutely needed, you should be pushing for your desk phone to be your ONLY phone from work.

        People are screwing themselves over because they think its more convenient for themselves. Did you folks ever consider WHY the company is more than happy to give you a cell?

        Skype etc is just an extension of that.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Ok, so here is what I do...

          I travel for work, probably between 80% and 90% of my time. I have a "desk" voip line, my own cell phone (which is expensed), and another unlocked cell phone. The unlock cell phone, I use when not in the country. I purchase a local sim for the country that I am in which is usually on some kind of pay as you go deal, and usually includes data. (the only place so far I could not include data was Morocco).

          What I do then is to "simring" my office desk line to either my own cell, o

      • by upuv (1201447)

        Tinky winky little mobile. This is a purely a preference choice in mobile. The should be a phone that meets every ones personal style/ergo prefs.

        Speaker phone. No problem. I have a very long usb lead that charges my phone while I'm at my desk. I also get the benefit of transferring data to and from the phone that I gather through the day that is not suitable for cloud. Some of this data is photo's of white boards from meetings. So now my charging is doing 3 things. I see this as a huge bonus. I mad

        • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:37AM (#42202533)

          "I also tend to use ear buds while on the move. This allows me to hear the conversations better. Lets me get stuff done while I hoof it between people."

          Sounds to me like your company has you by the balls. But you probably see it as liberating. Funny how perceptions can be different.

      • by fa2k (881632)

        I have to sometimes make long calls for my work and I *really* don't want to do it on a tinky winky little mobile phone, its bloody uncomfortable.

        Seems like a headset would be a great option, whether connected to a desk phone, mobile phoone or computer

      • by neyla (2455118)

        For long calls you want a good-quality headset. These exist for both Skype, for mobile phones, and for traditional desk-phones, so this is really no argument at all in favor of any of them.

      • I do too (Score:5, Insightful)

        by captainpanic (1173915) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:43AM (#42202571)

        Advantages:
        1. Comfort. A big phone is just more comfortable.
        2. Keeping everything separated. Work calls me at work, which means they don't bother me at home.
        3. Speaker phone. As said before, speaker option on a mobile is (1) often still a little crappy and (2) drains the batteries, which means you need to plug it into your charger, which is inconvenient because the cable is just too damned short.
        4. Name-based speed dial for the whole company. There's probably an app for that on smart phones too, but we have it on the desk phone, and it's very convenient.
        5. Money. We already have this infrastructure. It's paid and depreciated. Especially internal calls cost practically nothing.

        Disadvantages:
        1. No smart phone to play with, i.e. no angry birds
        2. My colleagues and business partners cannot reach me 24/7, but I don't call that a disadvantage.

    • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @09:14AM (#42202727)

      Here in Norway pretty much all medium-sized and larger businesses have agreements with a cell phone company that basically means that all company-internal calls are free, as well as all external calls made via cell towers located around their office locations.

      I.e. all the calls that you would have used a land line phone for in the old days.

      We have of course never had the horrible "cell phone receiver pays" system used in the US, partly because all cell phones have gotten numbers from a couple of separate ranges, never used for land-line phones, so that we always knew if we were calling a fixed or mobile phone.

      The last time I bought a cell phone with a contract clause must have been 5+ years ago, it was for one of my kids.

      Terje

    • The key advantage of the office phone is that it should be your common protocol inside and outside your organization.
      I have an office phone and I still use it. Because if I need to call someone outside my organization I know they will support my telephone call. Not hassle with having them get on skype or install another software or sign up to a service.... I just give them a call. Sure you can use Skype or your Cell Phone. But why should you expect to pay to call out.

      Next your phone is always on. Softwa

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:33AM (#42201985)

    Landlines are tied to a place.

    Each will have pros and cons and which on is appropriate for the situation depends on this basic fact.

    • by emj (15659)

      Yes I do find that land lines or stationary phones do have a place, I really like being able to call home to someone, or to a specific place. Especially when I know I can only be helped if someone is at that specific place. But considering the amount of cellphones I can have in my pocket on a bad day I would say cell phones are tied to a service; i.e. the service I provide to my family and friends, my work, and soccer practice etc.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:05AM (#42202137) Journal

      Landlines are tied to a place.

      With older systems, sure.

      Last big place I worked, the "landlines" were all voip phones running on a virtual network (to ensure QoS) on the same network switches as the regular gig-e network. It used a standard SIP backbone and you could port the number around the place or, in fact to any computer including a cellphone with a data connection. That's not much of a problem in the UK since you can get enough data for voice calls cheaply enough (£10 /mo).

      Was it worth it? Probably. The voice quality was generally substantially better than skype, probably because of the decent microphone and QoS within the local network at any rate. Also, for some reason about 80% of the UK population seem to be incapable of keeping their cellphone number when changing provider (even though it's a legal requirement for the companies to let you port it) and with some people, this seems to involve changing numbers on a fairly regular basis.

      In contrast, because the voip phone system was semi-sane and administered by semi-sane people, it was more common to keep a number for longer. I say semi sane because there was about a 30% chance of changing number when moving office, based mostly on the flip of a biased coin.

      Office phones can also have the advantage that after a set number of rings, they go through to the local secretary, or another worker. I wouldn't want my cellphone to be forwarded to a cow orker if I didn't pick up soon enough.

      TL;DR if you can't pick up office "landline" calls on a cellphone then you're comparing an ancient office phone system to a modern cellphone system which is not really a fair comparison.

      Oh and fun fact:

      Advanced prototype office phone systems in the late 90s had all those features, automatic porting, mobile options, apps and, of course, icon grids and touch screens.

      http://www.xorl.org/people/njh/bpstory/index.html [xorl.org]

      Sadly those never came available even though they would still kick ass.

  • As is the rule with "Ask Slashdot", the answer to the question is "no".

    I haven't had a dedicated desk phone in years. Lots of people don't even have their own desks anymore. Skype/IM or if really needed many companies (at least over here) will give you a smartphone just for work purposes.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Where I work, nobody has a desk phone. Everyone has a smartphone and a laptop. You can switch offices easily, share them if people work at home on alternating days, form impromptu sessions in common areas, etc. My smartphone actually gets used so little that it generally gets left at my desk, as I also carry my personal one. It would be quite easy for many people to do without one completely.

    • by wmac1 (2478314)

      I was forced to have a landline because it was the telco's requirement for having an ADSL. But since I moved to wireless internet, I have not had a fixed line. I use mobile phone for receiving calls and calling local numbers, a cheap VOIP service (half the price of Skype and Google) for calling my Mom in another country and skype for talking to may friends abroad.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      As is the rule with "Ask Slashdot", the answer to the question is "no".

      The only reliable rule with Slashdot is that people will take their own anecdotes and suddenly think that it will apply to everyone.

      Not everyone needs to reach me everywhere. Hence very few people have my smartphone number, and none of those people are customers, vendors, contractors, auditors, or people around the office who have a history of self importance.

      If I'm not at my desk it's because I'm either doing something important, I'm in a meeting, or there's some other reason why I would likely not want to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:39AM (#42202013)

    I am the typewriter.
    I used to be cool. The cool tool that everyone loved.
    The young nubile secretaries pushed my buttons :D and the writers tapped me until I became a conduit to their magical worlds.
    I was the greatest invention since the phone.
    And then suddenly, rather gradually... it was over.
    Now I sit in a closet collecting dust.

    I feel your plight, office phone. I feel it.

  • Depends... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ericloewe (2129490) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:44AM (#42202041)

    Having a phone on your desk can be crucial if you have to pretend you're doing serious work when someone important walks by. Cell phones or IM aren't as convincing, even if you are working.
    There's something about text that makes it inherently less efficient than a simple call, and once you start using IM, you tend not to use video or audio.

    None of this means you need a phone system, just a phone that uses your cell phone for handling the calls.

  • I could never figure out how to do those...

    Actually I have a fancy VOIP phone which I regularly use along with all the other communication tools listed. I regularly use Video conferencing and skype but the phone has been a very useful fallback when internet connectivity isn't where it should be.

  • Hang on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:48AM (#42202053)

    In one breath you are labelling people who use IM "passive aggressive" (are they really?) and in the next you seem to be advocating getting rid of the phone for other methods of communication (including IM). That doesn't make much sense at all. Also, why does using IM mean or imply as person is passive aggressive. Do you actually know what passive aggressive is, or is it just a buzzword for you? I ask because if someone were truly passive aggressive they probably wouldn't include you in the IM at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Psychotria (953670)

      I'd like to add to this. I am quite positive that my senior management do not know what "passive aggressive" is. Let's take an example. Recently I was in a meeting with senior management and a potential client. My boss asked the client "can we have a brief about this?" This client said "This is the brief" and moved on with the conversation. After the meeting my boss said the client was passive aggressive because of his answer to that question. Actually, that was not a passive aggressive response at all -- i

    • by Xenx (2211586)

      In one breath you are labelling people who use IM "passive aggressive" (are they really?) and in the next you seem to be advocating getting rid of the phone for other methods of communication (including IM). That doesn't make much sense at all. Also, why does using IM mean or imply as person is passive aggressive. Do you actually know what passive aggressive is, or is it just a buzzword for you? I ask because if someone were truly passive aggressive they probably wouldn't include you in the IM at all.

      I can't speak for the poster, but he said his passive aggressive co-workers use IM. He didn't actually call IM users passive aggressive. There is a distinct difference between those two statements.

    • Re:Hang on (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CompuGeek (11377) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @10:21AM (#42203177)

      I don't know how you get anything done with so many sources of distraction. Turn off the rest of the stuff (email too) and if anybody needs to communicate with you they came walk to your desk or call you. Check your email once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Anything that happens that is so important it needs immediate attention should come over the phone or face-to-face. You don't need to get rid of the phone. You need to get rid of everything else you *think* you need. Just because it's new and *kewl* doesn't mean you need it. They're mostly toys.

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:48AM (#42202055)

    Might be a rather specific use-case, but since there are so many telecommuters...I work from home, and I have a Cisco/Tandberg videophone (one of their "personal systems") on my desk. Although I'm practically never at the office, having the video there gives me that much more "presence" at the office than just being a voice (or writing off emails). The quality is much better than just having a webcam and a laptop + being a dedicated device, I never have to fight with whatever video conferencing software there might be. And of course, it has much better speakerphone capabilities than my cellphone.

    I have been very happy with it for the last 2 years. Recently, there has been a bit of pressure to start using MS Lync - but the truth is, Lync is mostly still used as a corporate messenger and not for calls. Lync 2013 does provide for more standards-based approach - instead of MS's RTVideo codec, they are actually going to use H.264, so maybe that'll change things. Then again, you can get one of those Lync-aware phones from Polycom and keep using a dedicated phone.

  • Call Quality (Score:5, Informative)

    by Going_Digital (1485615) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:49AM (#42202063)
    How can you seriously conduct business on a Cell phone ? The quality is awful, h_lf t__ time you o_ly get half the sent__e and have to either guess what was said or ask people to repeat themselves. Having a clear line is much more comfortable when using the phone all day and gives a much better impression. If I get a call from a company using a poor quality mobile I think to myself are they so cheap that they can't afford a proper phone ?
    • Re:Call Quality (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:52AM (#42202369) Homepage

      You cant, but there are a lot of poseurs that think they can.

      Even high end phones like the iPhone or a Flagship Android phone has Crap call quality compared to a correctly configured VoIP phone system at the office. and no using VoIP client on your phone over a VPN on the cell data network does not count. You get a ton of problems doing that. Jitter and latency through the roof are just a couple that make it a complete fail on a cell network.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Even high end phones like the iPhone or a Flagship Android phone has Crap call quality

        That is because those phones are really pocket-sized tablets that have a phone function added as an afterthought. I really have the feeling that over the past few years general mobile phone call quality has gone down.

    • Re:Call Quality (Score:5, Informative)

      by jrminter (1123885) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:54AM (#42202371)
      You are spot on. I work in a basement lab (electron microscopy) constructed with Hauserman partition walls (metal over drywall type core). These act like a Faraday Cage and cause cellular reception to be awful. To make matters worse, my management - trying to cut cost - decided that everybody had personal electronic devices these days and eliminated voice mail on our desk phone. What a mess. I have a hard time reading Dilbert these days -- it is too close to my reality...
    • by csumpi (2258986)
      I don't think you should discount all cel phones on voice quality.

      My Blackberries used to have superb voice quality.
      My iPhones always sucked, more like two cans and a string. I can still tell when I call someone with an iPhone, because I can't hear what they are saying.
      My Droid3 has great voice quality, same with the wife's SGS3.
    • by Bourdain (683477)
      I only wish I had that problem

      My employer's IT department has misconfigured the VOIP voice system so poorly, I much prefer to use my cell phone for phone calls as the sound quality is vastly superior...Now I just can't wait until my plan upgrades to unlimited minutes
  • Yes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:49AM (#42202065)

    I'm a software engineer - unlike the sales guys I don't have a work mobile phone, just a desk phone.

    And it works for when I want to call other internal departments or outside.

    Funny that.

  • *facepalm* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:54AM (#42202079)

    Are the days of the office phone (and the office phone system) at an end?"

    Why is it that just because a bunch of younger people have gotten used to a different way of doing things, that somehow makes the way older people do things evil, wrong, out of date, etc.? The office phone is not there so you can twit your friendface and blog the interwebs: It's there for business. It's there for all possible meanings of the phrase "your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes." It's there because it won't shit itself when 500 people decide to visit a Youtube video about a cat. It has no dead zones, doesn't need you to take the battery out if you try to load too many apps, or the SD card wiggles loose, etc. It. Just. Works.

    Businesses like things that just work. Your cell phone may be cutting edge state of the art, the thing all the cool kids are using and blah blah blah, but businesses care about those kinds of things... said no one. Ever. Businesses care about fixed costs and reliability and your cell phone won't ever have either. Configure one little thing wrong and you could be eating hundreds of dollars in overage fees... and god help you if your battery charge is running low and you're in the middle of an important call.

    Land lines: Because they just work, bitches.

    • Except when they are VoIP and the power is off. And even though there is meant to be a POTS phone somewhere in the building for emergencies, no one actually knows where it is.

      So, yeah, I suggest that desk phones are still useful, depending on the situation. In a previous job, people where scattered across up to six locations. We used the phone whenever we wanted to talk. IM just sometimes doesn't cut it, emotions are harder to get through, etc.

      Actually, phone (hands free headset), IM and email were sometime

    • by ray-auch (454705)

      Why is it that just because a bunch of younger people have gotten used to a different way of doing things, that somehow makes the way older people do things evil, wrong, out of date, etc.? The office phone is not there so you can twit your friendface and blog the interwebs: It's there for business. It's there for all possible meanings of the phrase "your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes." It's there because it won't shit itself when 500 people decide to visit a Youtube video about a cat. It has no dead zones, doesn't need you to take the battery out if you try to load too many apps, or the SD card wiggles loose, etc. It. Just. Works..

      I haven't worked anywhere this century where the office phones have not been VOIP.

      They are subject to exactly the same issues as the office internet connection, if that happens to be s**t then the phone dammed well does go down (or reverts to unusable quality) when 500 people hit youtube.

      And no matter how much people twiddle with QOS parameters, if the underlying conncection is s**t then QOS just means "what quality of s**t gets assigned to phone".

      The fact that the office phone has gone VOIP is what will, i

      • They are subject to exactly the same issues as the office internet connection, if that happens to be s**t then the phone dammed well does go down (or reverts to unusable quality) when 500 people hit youtube.

        That is the result of a network admin who is a moron. Even managed switches these days come with extensive QoS features, and more and more come with deep packet inspection. There is no excuse for having your phones take a crap because of a sudden burst of internet traffic. None.

      • by Dr. Hok (702268)

        I haven't worked anywhere this century where the office phones have not been VOIP.

        They are subject to exactly the same issues as the office internet connection, if that happens to be s**t then the phone dammed well does go down (or reverts to unusable quality) when 500 people hit youtube.

        And no matter how much people twiddle with QOS parameters, if the underlying conncection is s**t then QOS just means "what quality of s**t gets assigned to phone".

        In my company the desk phones are VoIP, too. The good part is, they are also IP routers. All IP traffic of workplace PCs goes through them, so the phone decides about priority. AFAIK the phones are meshed into a magic routing network which ensures QoS pretty well. I work in a multinational company where only we in Germany have this kind of phone. All the others use soft phones. And you can tell the difference. The desk phone users' voices are always 100% crisp and clear, while everybody else turns into a ro

      • by dskoll (99328)

        I haven't worked anywhere this century where the office phones have not been VoIP.

        We use Asterisk and IP phones internally, but our connections to the outside world (we're a small company) are still POTS. That's because any affordable DSL connection for a small company totally sucks for doing VoIP and our POTS lines never go down. Ever.

        The amount we'd save by switching away from POTS is so tiny in the big scheme of things that it's just not worth it.

        • by ray-auch (454705)

          When "internally" is a bit bigger and covers multiple sites you'll find that you typically don't get multiple POTS lines + a PABX into each site like in the old days, rather the VOIP is routed internally to one (or more, if you are lucky) exit points which do have multiple POTS lines. Same as most likely applies to internet connectivity.

          Unless you happen to be at the exit site, every call internal or external (and all internet activity) is going over the site to site WAN.

          I'm sure someone somewhere has deci

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          "POTS lines never go down. Ever. "

          Well, not entirely true, POTS lines do go down, but here in britain BT tends to get its arse into gear when that happens and fix them pdq. If broadband goes down its usually "We're working on it, we might have it fixed by the end of the week. Maybe.".

    • Re:*facepalm* (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:10AM (#42202421)

      Land lines: Because they just work, bitches.

      One more thing - they stay working even when you leave. A number / extension can be tied to position or location so when one person leaves the new person still gets the relevant business calls. Oh yea, they also don't ring in your pocket while you are on vacation.

  • by jorjb (223941) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:00AM (#42202103)

    I work with phones for a living at the largest private employer in Philadelphia.

    While office phones are clearly on the decline, they ain't dead yet. We have approximately 20k phones, half of which are VoIP and half of which are either POTS or a digital offering from the local carrier. All of them are converting to VoIP, slowly, and in the process I'm watching the attrition that the OP probably expects. It makes sense to get rid of single lines where they're unused and unnecessary.

    However, there remains the complex office setup where you have administrative assistants, or a suite front desk, and shared line appearances. Once someone wants to be able to put a call on hold on one phone and pick it up on a different physical phone, they want it to work like the same technology did in the 80s.

    Of course it was easier in the 80s, when those phones shared a dedicated physical copper pair that carried nothing but the voice. With digital signaling it's significantly trickier; Broadsoft has a proprietary protocol to handle this, and the IETF specification (http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-anil-sipping-bla-04 [ietf.org]) never left Internet Draft status (which, frankly, is a good thing as it's a very poor protocol).

    I don't see that complex setup going away any time soon, as it's a common VIP pattern.

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:07AM (#42202141) Journal
    My phone rings so infrequently that when it does it literally scares me.
  • You've already done a fine job of convincing yourself to believe that you do not need a desk phone.

    So unplug the phone and put it in a desk drawer. If anyone (including you) complains about it, then there must be a reason to keep it around. Plug it back in for a few months and try again.

    But if nobody notices, just rotate it over to the circular file at the same rate as any other disused desktop annoyance. You still get to keep your extension, and you can (presumably) get to your corporate voicemail if yo

  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:17AM (#42202185) Homepage Journal

    I work about 45 feet underground and the only cell service available is through a carrier that I won't use. Should my company ever provide me with a cell phone that may change, but I'm not expecting that upgrade any time soon.

    I rarely if ever use skype, whether at work, or at home. At work it would not punch through the corporate firewall, and at home I don't have sufficient need to use it to communicate with family or friends as most can reach me via other platforms.

    At work I actually have two phones at my desk, one for day to day calls, and another for bridge lines that I need to monitor. Some of the managers around here have 3 phones on their desks to give them that capability for multiple bridge lines, and also to have a line available to contact their managers for issues that need their attention.

    The firewall pretty much blocks all forms of VPN, IM and SIP that can't run over http through a proxy. All such traffic is continuously monitored and content which violates corporate policy may subject the employee to disciplinary processes including (and not limited to) termination.

    These limitations would be imposed on me if I were using a corporate Laptop or PC at home as well, as I would be required to establish a vpn to work and all my network traffic wold be required to go through that connection.

    I suspect that this is not unusual for people who work in the financial and trading sectors. At the very least it is an effort being made by the corporations involved to prevent themselves from being subject to penalties related to insider trading. I also suspect that several companies have even harsher limits on what their employees can do across the internet simply because companies are looking to protect customer and owner assets that may be affected by a variety of black hat hacker attacks as well as reducing the potential for damage caused by disgruntled employees (or former employees.)

    Before complaining that this is harsh, and hardly the usual treatment technology users should expect, I have to say that I happen to like where I work, the people I work with, and most of the people I work for. I like most of our customers and most of our stock holders. I can say that this is not unusual in the group I work with, as this is the first company I've worked with where I've had more people leave the group through retirement than through 'better' job offers elsewhere. No, things are not perfect, but on the whole, things are not bad.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      This. I work in a Faraday Cage so no cell phones for us :). We also have this thing called a "CD Player" where you take these circular disks, put them in the device, and it makes music.
  • Cost of mobile calls even on a big business plan is far too expensive to always use the mobile phone compared to the desk phone. As much as your idea about saving the desk space is fantastic (never even occured to me) - every now and then I make an extremely long phone call in the office and on a cell - that would really add up.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:37AM (#42202287)

    This looks like a very typical case of having found that you can live without something and then suddenly thinking it has no place in society.

    Honestly you can have my desk phone when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. Actually no you can have it when you provide me with a SECOND company mobile... which incidentally won't leave my desk.

    I am in the same boat as you in my company. We IM each other when we can't be stuffed walking, email each other to put things on the record, use a mixture of sharepoint and other "collaboration suites" if they can be called that, and everyone has my mobile number.

    My mobile number however is issued to those who desperately need to talk to me. You won't find it on my business card. You will not get it if you're a customer, a vendor, or even a contractor working for me for all but the most urgent and important of jobs. This is a method of making space for myself. This is something very important if you work with people who think that every job is urgent and you should be called in at any time.

    We do have someone who briefly tried to ditch the company phone. He simply forwarded his company phone to his mobile and unplugged it. Less than a week later he spat the dummy on his little exercise when someone called him at 6pm starting the conversation with: "Oh I was expecting to simply leave you a message, but since you're here..."

  • by Phoenix (2762) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:38AM (#42202293)

    First of all, unless the cell phone is being provided by my company I feel no obligation to do any work from it (apart from being available to be reached when I'm on call or in an emergency). So unless they provide the phone or subsidize my wireless bill...they're putting a phone in my desk.

    Secondly I work in a hospital. We configure the patient call system and the heart monitors to ring to the assigned nurse's handset phone (which is an extension of the PBX system). So going phone-free would be a hardship to our facility.

    We may be trending that way but I don't think that the end of the PBX Office Phone network is nigh

  • ...I consider my VOIP soft-phone as something apart from a traditional base-and-handset phone. Setting aside that difference, I still need a "phone". First of all, my position requires that people (vendors, customers, etc.) be able to reach me via the PSTN, and I, them. Second, I need the features afforded by our PBX. Other people in my office need those features even more. Yes, Skype is superior for a certain subset of telephony tasks, and I use that too, but it is not a phone system, and it's too expensiv
  • where I work we have real phones in the worst sense. Voice Mail is a distinct system, with limited storage, and not properly synchronized so the timing is always a little off. I've tried traditional headsets but they always seem to be cordless, and on 400$ devices they always seem to have issues with their batteries and charging (even though they sit for 16 hours a day on a charger.) I hate the old stuff.

    I have a headset for the computer anyways. I want my voice mails in my email anyways. The headse
  • What I'm interested in is how the collection of communication you have ties together. Say a call comes in to the receptionist, how does she transfer it to you? How do you transfer a call to a coworker, or conference them in on an existing call?

    Do you have separate work and personal mobile phones, so when on vacation (or after hours for those that don't have to pick up anyway) you can leave the work phone behind? And of course set your voicemail message to direct callers to the appropriate coworkers who a

  • There is so much legacy copper cabling running between the floors in the labs I work in that they're practically Faraday cages. Even my desk, which is outside of a lab proper but has a lab above it, I get no reception. "Desk phones" are still necessary in situations like that... Though I prefer asynchronous communication via email or IM, so people can deal with it on their own time.

    A few of us who are lucky enough get to use Spectralink mobiles, at least. There are repeaters for them inside the labs.

  • by technomom (444378) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:32AM (#42202511)
    If my co-workers were in the same timezone that I am in then maybe I wouldn't need it. But I spend my entire morning and evening talking to people in China and Ireland. Skype and the other voip alternatives just don't have the quality needed to sustain an 8 way hour long call.
  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:35AM (#42202525)

    Are the days of the office phone (and the office phone system) at an end?"

    Not remotely. Sure mobile devices are going to take huge swaths of market share from land line phones but it's not hard to find use cases where a land line phone is required, useful or even preferable. Off the top of my head:
    1) Managing multiple lines into a company. Could be done with wireless theoretically but much easier with landlines presently
    2) Legal/statutory requirements. Particularly for certain industries like financial services there is a requirement to have a landline
    3) Mobile phones get lost, land line phones don't.
    4) Separation of work from personal life. With a mobile device it is harder to separate the two unless you carry two of them and who wants to do that?
    5) Cost - land line phones can be a lot cheaper to own/operate and aren't obsolete after 4 years.
    6) Office features including paging, multiple lines, better speaker phones, etc
    7) Comfort - land line phones have handsets that are actually designed with the human head in mind
    8) Sunken costs - Land line phones are already installed to most buildings in the US and other parts of the world.
    9) Reliability - land line phones are FAR more reliable and have better voice quality than mobile devices almost without exception.
    10) Users - lots of workers are not techie geeks and find a land line phone a preferable method of communication
    11) Many users do not need to move from their desks. Why pay for the extra cost of mobile when it is not needed?

  • We are moving to a new building. Our ops manager was all gaga over his new IP phone system, and it was so cheap at only so much a month per phone. That made me think .. I don't really use the phone. At least not as much as he is going to be charged for it. I'm a developer, I hardly every get business calls from outside the company. Most of the tech support is done over the Internet. So I suggested that with phones in the conference rooms, I don't need a phone at my desk anymore.

    He was a bit reluctant
  • Is a smartphone not a phone ?
    I just replaced the keypad by a smartphone and the handset by a headset.

  • In favor of Cisco IP: latency, coverage (barely any cell reception in my office), sound quality (especially in speakerphone mode), office directory, sturdiness, cost, cost, and cost
  • As a dispatcher I have a large one with several dozen direct lines connecting me to signals, crossings, other dispatchers, security etc.
    And an external phone for internal calls in case the large one shuts down.
    An additional alarm phone that rings everybody all over the circuits.
    A special phone to alarm the switching station in case something on 25000Volt line happens.
    Then I have a land-line phone in case of emergency the only one where conversations aren't recorded.
    And a Sip-phone in case the land-line does

  • For all that matters i would be all in favor of dumping Fixed Phones if it means that i can talk to %person% not %persons_desk%
    IF I WANT TO TALK TO FURNITURE I WILL TALK TO MY OWN

  • My company uses VOIP soft phones. They work pretty well
  • Absolutely I need a phone at my desk.

    The geniuses who built our brand new "green" building put coatings on the windows to block UV rays and save of heating/cooling.
    I have 4 bars of HSPA+ standing outside of the main door and a big X, no signal, once inside that main door.

    I can forward my calls to my desk phone but I miss all my texts until I leave for the day.

  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @09:37AM (#42202883) Homepage

    One nice benefit of desk phones I haven't seen posted here:

    When you go home at the end of the day, the phone stays on your desk. So, no one calls you. If your cell phone *is* your workphone, they can call you on the way out the door, on the bus, while you're feeding the kids dinner, and all night.

    Sometimes it's nice to know work stays in the office, and home is home. You can do that with a cell by turning it off, but I don't know many people who ever do that anymore.

  • Call quality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @11:17AM (#42203831)
    Call quality of cellphones just is not sufficient for business teleconferences. People attending meetings with cellphones are frequently asked to drop rather than wasting many folks' time with "what? could you repeat that"

    Cellphones are important too, but they're not quite a replacement for a landline in business.

    Skype or other VOIP is fine, as long as you can access it from your location and your company does not forbid it. Many do, since it's trivial and legal to record audio from them unlike a land line telephone (in the US).

    As for people not being able to figure out things like 3 way calling.... If I had someone that inept on my team they sure wouldn't be around long. Conference calling is something any elementary school child should be able to master in a few minutes.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @11:20AM (#42203859)

    If you have to resort to long conference calls on your cell by having it constantly plugged into the USB port on your computer to keep it from running out of power, you might as well use a landline.

    I can also have my VOIP desk phone at my office relocated to my home office phone without having to physically move the phone or forward the number so phone calls from my home office phone look like they're coming from my office.

    Also, it's crystal clear, loud and doesn't drop.

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