• Office voicemail was a great tool for its time
  • Voicemail isn’t as easy or flexible as other communication technologies
  • Stop using office voicemail and use email and messaging instead
As you walk to your workspace, the moment you see the red light on your desk phone, you get that all too familiar feeling of being irritated.

Then as you get closer, when you see the number of missed calls and the total number of voicemail messages waiting for you, it creates that same feeling as having to do the most undesirable house chores in life.

As you sit there contemplating whether or not to even go through with the hassle of listening to all those messages, you think to yourself, “Why the fuck do people still insist on leaving voicemail messages when there are perfectly good alternatives?!”

Office voicemail is such a pain-in-the-ass sometimes. But, you deal with it.

The red light won’t go away. You can see it in the periphery of your vision. It’s just bright enough to pull your attention away from getting in the zone with work.

It’s like that tiny little pebble in your shoe that’s annoying as fuck. It’s not super painful but just enough that it drives you crazy if you don’t do something about it.

Why does the working world still insist on using voicemail anyway?

The Rise Of Office Voicemail

After the invention of the printing press, the telephone is by far one of the most impactful technologies that helped to propel business into the modern age of productivity.

Communication that previously took several days or weeks by mail could now be done in a matter of seconds just by pressing a few buttons. In an instant, you were talking with your contact in a totally different location.

The speed of communication increased exponentially. People could get shit done much faster than before.

By the 1970s, nearly every business had a landline telephone. It was a mandatory piece of technology that enabled businesses to prosper and grow.

Then, as audio electronics got better and cheaper, the earliest examples of consumer-grade answering machines started to emerge in US households in the 1980s.

It didn’t take long for businesses to realize that having this same kind of technology at the office would really help. When every desk has an answering machine, there wasn’t a need for the office admin to take notes and leave a “call back” memo anymore. It could be fully automated.

But, offices didn’t typically have an answering machine for each employee. That’s way too expensive.

It wasn’t until corporate phone systems transitioned to fully digital that every employee had their own desk answering machine - now, called voicemail. The functionality was just integrated into the desk phone.

Corporate voicemail adoption grew rapidly through the 1990s. It became the standard office tech that people really embraced. You gotta remember that this was before the advent of email. So, the best and fastest way to communicate was via phone.

You can imagine how hard it was to focus in a noisy office with ringing phones and people talking. People were on the phone all the time and making calls throughout the day.

When the other person wasn’t there, you could just leave a message. No more calling back over and over until you got them live. You could just say what you wanted to say and they’ll get the message.

As the internet and email grew in the early 2000s, corporate voicemail didn’t wane off. It had such a huge following that it remained one of the key communication tools for the working world. 

Why Office Voicemail Sucks Now

Through the 2000s, voicemail was still very much part of office life. Your business card always had a desk phone number and in some cases, even a fax number, remember that shit?

During this period, people still used their desk phones for a majority of their business communications.

Yes, personal cell phones were pretty widespread and smartphones started to emerge in the late 2000s but as far as the corporate world, most office workers didn’t get a work cell phone.

As we entered the 2010s, smartphones and their capabilities for easy messaging really took off. It was much easier to read a message instantly than having to dial into your voicemail box to retrieve a message.

And that’s where the rub of voicemail is.

When you’ve gotta go through the song and dance of dialing your office voicemail box then entering your passcode and then pressing a bunch of phone buttons to playback and/or delete messages, it takes much more effort on your part to get to and process the information.
The worst is when you can’t bypass the system’s voice prompts. When you’ve gotta wait until the end of the prompt to input your button choice, you’ll be banging your head against the wall.

Next, the information that’s in the voicemail is trapped in that system. You can’t transfer that information to another platform. It’s stuck there. And now, you’ve gotta manage it in addition to your other communications - more unnecessary grunt work.

Corporate voicemail is simply more of a pain in the ass than other more modern communication alternatives.

Things like texting, instant messaging, work chats and basic email work far better than traditional voicemail. The information on these platforms is much easier to manage and process.

Because of the greater flexibility of these newer communication tools, more people are shying away from using old school voicemail.

It’s Time To Ditch Office Voicemail For Good

There is still a strong holdout of voicemail users out in the business world. These are the same people that will also ask for your fax number - for real, no shit.

They need to get with the program.

When there are better and easier ways to do things, we need to adapt to them.

It’s totally okay to stick with an old-fashioned tool or technology for nostalgic reasons. We think typewriters are totally cool. However, when it impacts others in the network, it introduces that little bit of unnecessary added strain into office life.

It makes managing work stress a bit harder. And, who wants that?

It’s time to put the final nail in the voicemail coffin folks. Let’s move on.

Feel Better,

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