For the kind of work I do, a cell phone is a great convenience. Very handy. While I do have an "office" (actually just a cubical) back in the company owned office building, the reality is that my office is really my work vehicle most of the time. In my work, I am usually on the road, or at a customer owned building.
Yep, I could just give the home office a number I could be reached at when I'm at a customer facility. But its simply convenient for everyone to simply have one number at which they can reach me any time.
And it is just ONE phone number. Been working for the current employer for 10 years and the cell phone number I use hasn't changed in all that time. Its like my home phone number, it hasn't changed in 20 years.
That said, I doubt if I make or receive more than 3 to 4 phone calls on that cell phone on any average day. Its infrequently necessary for there to be more.
And those I work with, and my family and friends, know I absolutely despise getting "junk" phone calls. And if the call is necessary, make it short and sweet and to the point.
Its not a matter of being frugal and trying to save "minutes" charges. I'm on an unlimited plan. Just because, just because I don't want to be bothered with keeping track of minutes or any other unimportant trivia like that. The phone service company probably makes out on someone like myself, but I could give a rip. Just want the phone to work when I do choose to use it without wondering whether or not I'm running out of minutes.
But I use a cell phone minimally simply because I do have actual work to get done. And tend to get more than a little miffed if I keep getting bothered and interrupted by piddling trivia that could have waited.
So I tell folks to save up their questions or comments, take notes if needed, call me ONCE instead of 20 times.
Better yet, if its not friggin critical to have an answer NOW, or to tell me something NOW ... send the message directly to my voice mail, or email. BTW, keep those minimal also. Or you'll just cause me to think you're a bungling, incompetent fool and airhead who can't keep track of your own thoughts. Or organize your own a**-wiping without help.
When I have the time and its convenient, I check my voice mail and email. If its important, I respond right away. If its not, I'll respond when I'm good and ready and have deliberately planned the time for doing so.
The point being, in my view a cell phone is a handy tool, wouldn't be without one. But I'll be darn if I'll let it control my life or my time. I'm not a slave to it nor addicted to its use.
Before someone in the group jumps in and says something about it ... I've had this conversation with my bosses and my customers.
In fact, once I make my case, the majority of them agree with me.
The few who don't, well I'm a patient man. Used to do work after my normal business hours with mentally challenged kids. So long ago learned to be patient with those not quite as bright as average.
Chuckle, one of the managers in the chain of folks above me, used to call me about every nit-picking little bit of trivia on his mind at any particular moment. I tried to be patient.
Kept telling myself it wasn't his fault that he was perhaps a bit ... slow ... at figuring stuff out. After all, he was in his early 30's. And while he did have some real world experience, it was limited. Spent a lot of time in school. He had his MBA. Getting his head full of a bunch of nice theoretical stuff some college professor (himself a bit short on real world experience) told him to learn because it was important. And, previously, this guy had worked for a company his dad owned. As junior, assistant, vice-vice president of whatever it was he was supposedly in charge of. So it was likely his tasking wasn't just all that difficult or complex. And that as the owner's son, well ... it's a pretty good bet that most of the folks treated him as maybe a bit more important and knowledgeable than he really was.
I don't know that that last part above was true. I didn't work there myself. Just a guess given his general attitude about things when he first came to work for us.
Anyway, I quickly found out that he could be ... annoying. Like a small child is annoying. Always running around, looking and acting really, really busy. But accomplishing little except to make a lot of noise, getting in the way, and constantly demanding attention.
I tried to be patient and understanding. But after a bit I started to get tired of it all. After way too many calls, I told him once that I was, after all, trying to get some work done that'd actually make the company some money. So how about he consolidate his thoughts and questions, take notes if his memory was bad, and either email me the bundle and I'd respond to it all at one time, or make one call and we'd go through all of it at once.
It took a while for the poor fellow to get the idea. And some persistence on my part. i.e. Too frequent phone call would be made, and he'd ask where I was and what I was doing. I'd answer, "Standing right here on the job trying to get something done, but not doing so well at it since right now I'm wasting time and progress talking on this darn phone. How many times has it been today? Got a calculator? Can yah figure out how much its costing the company per day and then per year for me to be halted in my work and talking on this darn phone?"
He'd usually get a bit miffed and grumble something about the fact that technically I did work for him. To which I'd reply with something like, "Well, okay Boss, you're right, but I'm getting darn little productive work done right now. Want to increase my production rate? Pass the word around the office that people shouldn't call me for every little insignificant thing that passes through their heads. One at a time. What I do requires focus and concentration. Every interruption like this wastes perhaps 10 minutes of my PRODUCTIVE time. Counting not only the time to talk, but also the lost time caused by my having to go back to what I was doing, figure out where I was at, get back into the train of thought I was pursuing before I answered this phone, etc. Six calls like this per day, and you're paying me an hour's wage for time in which I didn't get much of anything done. Twelve such calls a day and I'm getting paid for 2 wasted hours. Let's see, I'm getting paid $45 an hour. Add bennies. Let's keep it simple and say each hour of my time is costing the company $70. That's $140 a day I'm paid for NOT doing my real job. Or, let's use round numbers and figure 2000 work hours a year, discounting vacation time, with 25% of those hours getting ate up talking on this phone. That's a cost to the company of about $35,000 a year ... of wasted time where I'm not getting my primary work done. In short, time where I'm not bringing them in a profit. But I'm sure you learned all that when getting your MBA, right?"
He still didn't get the hint too fast. In fact went up the chain and complained about me to HIS boss. Seemed to think I had a bad attitude or something.
His boss caught me one day when I was actually in the office and we had a little talk while having coffee. I made my case for my side of the story.
Later I gathered from the grape vine that the Big Boss had a talk with the Smaller Boss. A pleasant, patient one. During which it was pointed out that the techs and engineers really didn't need hand holding or someone constantly looking over their shoulders. And that the Smaller Boss really wasn't technically qualified to be giving detailed directions to them as to how to do their jobs. And that he should probably make an effort to interrupt them and their work as little as possible. There really wasn't a need to quiz them about trivial details throughout the day. Consolidate questions, directions, etc ... and send emails. Don't expect a quick response unless it IS something that's time critical. And in such cases, call em. BUT only if it was truly important.
Finally the guy got it figured out.
Makes my life easier. Fewer times that I have to ignore a ringing cell phone. And now I actually answer his calls, most times. Since he's gotten into the habit of only calling when it really is necessary.
I'm sure glad he got that MBA. With it, it only took me about a year to get the idea into his head about the proper use of a cell phone during business hours. Would hate to think about how long it might have taken if he'd not had all education.
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