What Remote Workers Really Do During Conference Calls

remote worker bathroom
Credit: ThinkStock

As more workers take advantage of mobile technology to work outside the office, companies are relying on conference calls to communicate. What are workers actually doing during these calls? Spoiler alert: probably not what you expect them to be doing.

Remote and mobile workers mean companies will have to conduct more conference calls to keep them in the loop. But what, exactly, are remote workers doing during these dial-in meetings? The answers may surprise you, according to results from a new InterCall survey of more than 500 full-time, remote workers.

It's more than just remote workers wearing bathrobes while attending a conference call, although this happens, too. They're probably not even listening to co-workers and managers ramble on, at least not fully. The survey found 82 percent of respondents admitted to working on unrelated items while on a conference call.

remote worker cooking ThinkStock

Many remote workers prefer to use their mobile phones instead of a landline. That's because mobility frees them up to do all kinds of things. Here's a sample of what remote workers say they're doing on a conference call:

  • 55 percent eat or make food
  • 47 percent go to the restroom
  • 44 percent text message
  • 43 percent check social media
  • 25 percent play video games
  • 21 percent shop online

If that's not bad enough, there's more shady behavior from the survey.

Respondents have jumped on a conference call while in the bathroom, at McDonald's, at the racetrack and while chasing their dog down the street. One respondent said she was on a video conference call and had to take measures to hide her bikini top while at the beach. Another was inside a fitting room while trying on clothes. There was no instance of someone yelling, "Fore!" at the golf course, but that's not far-fetched.

Lastly, two out of five respondents have secretly dropped off the call and, later, pretended to have participated the entire time. Then there's the 27 percent who admitted that they've fallen asleep -- and we're not talking about the 8 a.m. Eastern Time conference call for remote workers on the west coast.

Here's InterCall's infographic: 

intercall mobile conferencing final InterCall

(Click for larger image.)

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