Thursday, June 11, 2009

When technology saves you time but does not help your work.

I work from my home in Dallas, while my colleagues are spread in offices from San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Brisbane, and London. So I set up my work phone extension to forward to my home office phone, which is a virtual "softphone" from Skype, which will then forward to my cell phone if I don't answer on my laptop. Finally, my cell phone will collect a voice mail if I still do not answer, and it will email me that message in an attachment.

Technology to the rescue

At least that's how I thought it worked, until this week when a couple of people told me that they called and received a "Mailbox full" message, even though my cell phone mailbox is empty. I checked with our internal IT and found out that the number of rings my work line waited before going to voice mail was the same as the sum of the number of rings my home office and cell phone waited before recording a message. And so sometimes my work line would take a message, but it wasn't sending me an email since the system was upgraded, and I had no indicator light telling me that I have a message.

So, today and I have 100 unanswered messages going back to January 28th. I apologize to those who think I never return calls, but I also wonder about how much productive time I had recently without all of those interruptions...

My phone solution

In case you have a similarly disconnected life, after much trial-and-error I finally settled on using a Skype In subscription, a Freetalk wireless headset, and a Sprint data card. The quality has been acceptable for business use for the most part, and it keeps me connected anywhere I travel as long as I have Internet or cell phone access. Just be sure to check the forwarding settings every now and again.