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Cath Everett

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23 minutes on a conference call – that’s your limit

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Concentration starts to wane after workers have spent an average of 23 minutes on a telephone conference call, with many resorting to doodling and checking or writing emails while others simply fall asleep.

 
A survey, undertaken among 4,800 individuals in the UK, India, Spain, Germany and Singapore by telecoms provider Cable & Wireless, revealed that UK employees were less likely to either check or write email messages (42%) than colleagues elsewhere (46%), but more likely to indulge in doodling (35% versus 17% respectively). Some 3% of UK personnel confessed that they had nodded off at some point during a call, however.
 
But UK employees’ ability to concentrate was better when they were involved in face-to-face meetings or videoconferences, with attention spans here rising to around 35 minutes – although the figure was still behind that of Singaporeans who topped the poll at a more impressive 37 minutes.
 
Unsurprisingly, two thirds of UK workers also said they would make more effort around their personal appearance by wearing business attire if they were visible to others, while a third indicated that they would attempt to smile more. Just over 10% of 16 to 24 year olds even said that they practiced how best to look in front of the mirror before a meeting.
 
Matt Key, managing director of Cable & Wireless Worldwide’s enterprise business, said: “This research clearly shows that telephone conference calls are best suited for a shorter conversation, while video conferencing can ensure that people are focused for longer. Videoconferencing is particularly well suited to greater number of participants and meetings where visual props need to be discussed.”

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