Sep 18, 2013

    What really happens in a teleconference

    HE HAS friends in the finance sector who have to take conference calls often, but they sometimes drift off and end up playing musical instruments while on a call.

    The legal counsel, who wanted to be called Sebastian, admitted to doing it himself on calls which involve departments where his expertise was not central. The 38-year-old said: "Might as well practise a bit, right?"

    Some 72 per cent of professionals employed in financial services here said they regularly joined conference calls, according to survey findings released by job portal eFinancialCareers yesterday.

    But of these, 54 per cent admitted that they did not pay full attention during each call. Half of them were also surfing the Internet (50 per cent) or eating (49 per cent).

    Others even joined calls from their beds (19 per cent) or while shopping (11 per cent).

    The survey polled 1,738 people in Singapore online in July.

    Mr George McFerran, managing director for the Asia-Pacific at eFinancialCareers, said many finance professionals take conference calls because Singapore is a global financial centre. So, they need to liaise with people from different time zones.

    Ms Christina Ng, associate director for Robert Walters' Banking and Financial Services Division here, said this means calls are more practical, cost effective and save time, compared to flying people in for physical meetings.

    But taking calls at odd hours might explain some of the survey's findings, said Adecco marketing manager Shirin Aziz.

    And like any multi-party meeting, people involved in conference calls may drift off and get distracted if issues not pertaining to them get discussed, said Ms Ng.

    Mr McFerran said that with calls taking place outside office hours, some people might take calls while having breakfast or dinner, or just after waking up.

    Still, getting distracted could mean a call is not productive. To avoid this, Ms Ng said the conference call needs a clear agenda.

    Ms Shirin said video conferencing could help, but Mr McFerran said some people might have privacy issues doing this from home.