Friday Funny: If I Can’t Hear You, I Can’t Work

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

On the silver screen, James Bond is always equipped with the coolest gadgets that work even under the most extraordinary circumstances. He was Agent 007, after all. But in the 1970s, it was television’s Get Smart who audiences could relate to, with his “Sorry about that, Chief” catchphrase and his innate ability to bumble through every episode. Yet, it was Maxwell Smart whose shoe phone concept set the stage for the modern day cell phone, which is sometimes just as unreliable as its comedic predecessor.

Verizon’s “Can you hear me now” ad campaign has been unplugged for several years, but employees still struggle with cell phone reception in the workplace. Buildings often have dead spots or black holes, which are made even worse by noise or interference created by equipment throughout the facility.

In fact, recent research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ip.access shows that this could be turning into a costly inconvenience for businesses. Some are losing millions of dollars every week due to the disconnect. And frustrated employees are spending an hour or more in the same timeframe searching for reliable cell phone signals to make work related calls.

In the UK, 61% of office workers claim to have poor or variable mobile reception at their places of work. Even 50% of IT professionals responded that the mobile signal in their offices is inadequate. The same research reveals that 62% of employees in the finance sector suffer from poor or variable mobile phone reception, and 59% of government or public service professionals face the same problem. Clearly, the issue of poor connectivity is not industry centric.

“There is a fundamental issue here for businesses and mobile operators,” says Gavin Ray, SVP Products & Marketing at ip.access. “It is pretty amazing that in an age where we have fridges that can tell you you’re out of milk, we are still faced with the age old problem of patchy indoor mobile signals. Looking at these numbers, it’s clearly the new time thief for business.

“While companies across the UK are employing the latest technology to streamline processes and boost revenue, a reliable mobile signal has become a basic necessity, and the lack of one is having a detrimental effect on the productivity and flexibility of companies’ workforces. This surely feeds into missed revenue and growth opportunities.”

Ray stresses the urgency of the problem, and suggests businesses invest in technology like small cells to improve reception where necessary. However, the research data shows that 42% of enterprise users are not aware that there are technologies available that can cure the plight of poor mobile phone signal in their place of work. Only 15% having heard of small cells as a viable solution.

The research implied that mid-sized companies, of 500 people, are losing $4,222.29 a week from employees spending an hour or more hunting for a mobile signal; a figure that for the first time shows the economic value of solving this problem and a positive reason for operators to build and develop new solutions to return this valuable time to the people they serve.

To avoid additional complaints about poor cell reception in your facility, check out some of the possible tech boosting options. You may never have to say “Sorry about that, Chief,” again—at least not when it comes to dealing with dropped calls.


  1. I wonder how much of the blame falls on the service provider. In addition, some employers do not permit the use of personal cell phones at work and employees looking for discreet places to answer calls inadvertently end up in the black holes. I often have to pick up cigarette butts in those areas as part of my job.

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