Sharon Reid


Conference calls are an essential tool for conducting 21st century business – business seamlessly conducted across different continents without having to leave the comfort of your home or office make conference calling that more attractive. I occasionally use conference calls when interviewing entrepreneurs – ideal when conflicting schedules mean interviewing face to face is simply not an option, but how would I feel if said entrepreneur was amongst the 12% of people who admit to using the toilet whilst engaged on a conference call? Well, the timing would not be ideal, however, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be offended – out of sight out of mind etc.

Conference call provider Powwownow* – conducted a survey** to find out what exactly people get up to when on a conference call and found that:

  • Over 32% admitted to pulling faces whilst on a call
  • Over 13% of respondents also said they’ve said something about another person on the call when they thought they were on mute

Sheena, 31 a Market Analyst for a luxury interior company, recalls a somewhat embarrassing moment whilst on a conference call:

“I was working for a small family -run publishers, and on a call with a somewhat difficult client, my boss who at this point was growing ever more impatient, called the client ‘a wanker’ under his breath – not very professional. Little did we know that the client had heard this – he obviously was blessed with supersonic hearing! Straight after the call we received a very curt email from said client who needless to say promptly removed his business.”id-10089391

The survey also revealed that some people are pretty adept at multi -tasking as they confessed to doing something else whilst on a conference call, the survey found:

  • Over 48% of respondents said that they continue to work
  • Over 39% said that they multi-task whilst a conference call is going on
  • More than 25% of respondents said they browsed the internet
  • 17% said that they check social media during a call

It transpires that not all of us are comfortable with making conference calls and have resorted to telling lies in order to get out of it (19%), while the top excuses for missing calls are:

  • Being tied up with another call or meeting (over 37%) 
  • Internet issues (over 35%)id-100362787

The survey also highlighted gender differences:

  • Women tend to be more confident over the phone, over 20% said this
  • Compared to 14% of men

Sartorial choices were also different between men and women; men are also more likely to be dressed casually, compared to 12% of women, Ryan, 46 an Entrepreneur reinforced this difference:

“I’m a bit of a Johnny come lately and I’ve recently discovered onesies courtesy of my teenage son, I practically live in them and my outfit of choice whilst on a conference call.”

Onesies aside, Powwownow has created a do’s and don’ts guide for conference call etiquette to ensure that you won’t get caught out.

**Powwownow surveyed 2,000 office workers in the UK