The Way of the Payphone

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Do you remember the last time you used or saw a payphone, if ever?

There was a time when payphones in public places were as common as wi-fi hotspots are today. But they too have gone the way of rotary phones, long-distance, and telephone operators. Another casualty of Mobile Madness—our obsession with mobile devices and the apps that run on them. Payphones still exist, but remain largely ignored.

Mobile Madness began very unremarkably 30 years ago with the first cell phone sale. At the time no one would have predicted the item nicknamed “The Brick” would ever become more than a passing fad. It was expensive ($4,000), impractical (half hour battery life), and intrusive to our established social norms.

Yet, the cellular phone has become the most rapidly adopted technology in history, growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 1990s.

Today 91% of US adults own some type of cell phone. 79% of us reach for our cell phones within 15 minutes of waking.

As consumers we’ve become accustomed to technology that makes our lives easier. As employees, we want the same thing–technology that makes it easier for us to get work done.

Similar to what happened with the payphone, workplace technology will be ignored if it doesn’t support the many different ways we want to work. We expect our workplace tools to be just as flexible, productive, and practical as the tools we use in our personal lives. Otherwise, they too will go the way of the payphone.

If the technology provided by employers doesn’t meet our expectations, we will find ways to bring our own technology solutions to work with us. Much like when we started bringing our own phones with us when we left home.

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