Contact me (20 different ways)

This is how I feel when I get into the office (minus the Blackberry) - Source: OU.
This is how I feel when I get into the office (minus the Blackberry) – Credit: OU on Flickr

This post coincides with some thoughts that I’d been collecting about communication methods and was finally provoked with an article in the FT about Coca Cola and JP Morgan removing voicemail from employees’ phones.

I seem to have too many communication methods, spilling over between my work and personal life. Each morning I get into work and go through a process of attempting to keep up with all these methods via a myriad of smartphone apps, PC applications and web browser tabs.

And it’s getting worse. Last week Mrs H went on a holiday abroad while I led a Scout camp in the New Forest. (Mrs H likes camping, but is strictly a good-weather camper, and we had the worst weather during the camp that I can remember). Before departing for a flight to a sunny destination she asked me to install WhatsApp.

I’ve always abstained from WhatsApp because my kids all use it and I don’t want a zillion more notifications from them while I’m at work. And besides, I have enough alternative communication methods for people, including my kids, to reach me.

This is also beside the point that the mobile contract which three of my children use, and I pay for, include unlimited text messages – so why can’t they use a free communications method and not go over their data allowance? So I’ve avoided WhatsApp, and hardly get any interruptions from them. Win-win!

My 20 communication methods (almost prioritised)

Back to my sit-down-at-work-and-catch up-routine. Here are the various forms of electronic communication I check when I get into the office:

  1. My mobile phone with voicemail
  2. Text messages
  3. Post (aka snail mail)
  4. Work email
  5. Yammer
  6. Skype
  7. Skype for Business (formerly Lync)
  8. Twitter: I have 2 accounts, of which I only check one during the work day
  9. Personal email account
  10. Personal email account that I use for Internet orders and general newsletters
  11. Comments and feedback on bradbox.com
  12. A spammy personal email account that I’ve had for years although my mum still insists on using as a default email address
  13. LinkedIn notifications
  14. Facebook & Facebook messenger
  15. Work landline
  16. Home landline (which I now don’t even pick up because, with the exception of Syed the persistent PPI salesman, it is never for me)
  17. Instagram
  18. And now WhatsApp

There could also be a number 19, which is my home printer can accept fax messages, and possibly a number 20 – apparently we have a fax machine at work too.

The items towards the end of the list – in fact the bottom half of the list, I only check a couple of times a week.

Isn’t this all a bit crazy? I remember several years ago, a product called ICQ, which linked together Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger and its own messaging system. ICQ is still available but only offers its own system.

We need a new consolidated messaging platform. APIs are available for most of the platforms above, so the integration probably isn’t that hard. However I need to fully trust the product. I don’t want to download an app to my PC or smartphone which takes the credentials of all my forms of electronic communication and have those details stored with some teenager, especially given how our email accounts are still the main source of login or forgotten passwords.

App alerts

While I’m on a rant, here’s something else I don’t understand.

If I go to the trouble of downloading and installing a smartphone, please don’t send me a text message to alert me. Why not send me a notification via the app? Why do some apps insist on still sending text messages?

The future

Perhaps the number of communication methods will consolidate over the coming years. I hope so, and would like to see half of that list above go the same way as JP Morgan’s voicemail.

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