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Recruitment 411: Work World Relics – Trusted Tool on Verge of Extinction?

For the month of July, Eric Erickson will be taking over this blog from Julie. Eric is a communications colleague of Julie’s from the IRS Recruitment office.

In the last decade, I’ve seen many changes to how we perform work at the IRS – especially when it comes to how we communicate. When I started my first federal government job more than ten years ago, we basically had two tools to interact with people in other offices and our external contacts: phones and e-mail.

Over the years, my communicator toolbox has filled up with many more instruments I can use to interact with colleagues. My laptop now allows me to work from home, while my cell phone gives the ability to work on the go. In the IRS Recruitment Office, we use a wide array of social media sites to place our messages in front of the people who want to see them. We also have Office Communicator on our computers, which in many ways has single-handedly revolutionized our work. The ability to IM each other means we don’t have to use e-mail or voice mail to ask quick questions.

With so many more options available, I’ve seen one tried and true tool moving slowly by the wayside: voice mail.

Even just a couple years ago, when I worked from home, my VMS inbox would fill up after only a couple hours. Now, I can go literally weeks without ever having even a single message waiting for me.

It seems people are more apt to shoot off a quick e-mail or IM than pick up a phone. Even if they do call – and no one is available – they may forgo leaving a VMS message and shoot off an e-mail instead.

On the flip side, I’ve found the decreased use of voice mail results in two occupational hazards:

1. Since there are almost never any messages on my machine, I sometimes forget to check my VMS more than a couple times a day.

2. Accessing my VMS fewer times a day has actually led me to forget my pass-code on more than one occasion.

So, what say you…is VMS on its way to becoming a thing of the past – or will it always be around?

What other tools do you think may eventually become relics of the work world?

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Of course, there really is no reason why we still have fax machines either. For that matter, I can see a day when we no longer print anything. Think of all the trees that will be saved, not to mention expensive toner and space savings. Landlines will also be eliminated once we figure out how much sense it makes. In the future, the demand for expensive conference rooms will be dimished once web-conferencing catches on. Same goes for private offices and cubicles.

Eric Erickson

I agree with all of those, Terry…especially the comment about video conferencing. Companies and agencies could save so much money on rent and real estate by investing in equipment that allows employees to attend meetings via web cams from their work computer!

Terrence (Terry) Hill

I like that idea of combining voice mail and e-mail. In fact, when I used to have a Google Phone number it did just that! I never missed a voice mail and didn’t have to call it every hour. Another tip is to program your phones to all ring simultaneously, automatically transfer to your smart phone, or just throw that old landline phone out the window!

Terrance Glover

I agree that communication is evolving rapidly and there may be a possible combined voice message content.

However, I disagree that VMS will be a thing of the past because phones will not go away. It is a primary means of communication in society. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention is here to stay…for awhile…a long while.

My telephone is a source of communication and frequently used. Due to the various sources of communication, each one is used based on the users ability to contact me. In some cases, voice messages are left to reach me and I frequently return. I guess it really is a matter of what is most used and what is agreed upon by the sender and receiver. I commonly refer to “the best way to reach me is…” depending on on location.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Guilty of #1 for sure. I do have my voicemail roll into my gmail with voice to text – not perfect, but I generally know who called and the nature of their contact, then get back by phone or email.