In fact, this 100-person company had no phones at all. AT&T was barred from the building! Between the Internet, and wireless phones, the company COO decided there was little need for landlines.
Communication between employees happens via email or text messaging. In-person meetings (the old fashioned kind when you talk face-to-face) were held in a series of small conference rooms, or outside in the urban alleyway. All of which left the warehouse hull steeped in silence except for the soft taping of fingers against keypads.
The old office sounds—of typewriters, phones ringing, and office gossip have been replaced with silent electronic forms of communication…the former gone the way of the dodo bird.
No more familiar ringtones—they’ve been replaced by vibrating mobile phones, and conference room tables are no longer dressed speaker phones placed like a floral centerpiece at Thanksgiving dinner.
Putting the landline out to pasture is an inevidable event, another example of how we are become less and less tethered to stationary technology. Phones move with us now, as do computers, and all of the media and communication tools that go with them.
The demise of the landline is inevitable, but still somewhat far off. Currently, 27% of U.S. households are mobile-only—over ¼ of the total population! And the number of landline-only households sits at just under 13%. Of course, the number of offices who have done away with their landlines is much smaller, but will surely grow.
Generational differences, and socio-economic status are the main determiners of who uses wireless phones as their primary form of phone communication. Generation Y have fully embraced the idea of a mobile device, as have households who simply can’t afford both (Arkansas leads the country in wireless-only households with 35 percent. Rhode Island and New Jersey had the fewest wireless-only households with 13 percent).
Over time, the gap will fill, as Generation Y grows and matures, and the boomers and the X’ers come to the realization that that tethered device sitting on the bedside table gathers more and more dust, while their mobile phone buzzes and vibrates at an more continuous rate.
There still are a few reasons to hang on to that landline—many home alarm systems are tethered to the line, or used as backup for when an emergency knocks out the cellular network. But other than that?
And, the best reason I can think of for removing my landline? No more telemarketing calls during dinner. Many political polls, health surveys, and other research studies are conducted using random-digit-dialing (RDD) to landline phones.
I’m looking forward to the time when the old fashioned sound of a ringtone has vanished and we can all sit quietly and text in peace.