Why do you hit ‘mute’ when on a conference call?

If you’ve ever been on a conference call, you’ll appreciate the importance of the ‘mute’ button – just because you can’t see the people on the other end of the call it doesn’t mean you can’t hear them, or that they can’t hear you.

And so the mute button comes in handy to mask everything from eating during a lunchtime conference call to an unavoidable coughing fit. It can also help to mask the myriad of other things you could be doing while on a conference call.

What are you doing while on that conference call?

If you don’t mute a conference call, people can hear exactly what type of multitasking is going on. But it can be much worse if you don’t turn the camera off while video calling – as one woman found out in the worst way possible (check the far left window).

You’re dong what?!

It’s no secret that people will busy themselves with other tasks while on a conference call – if we could be doing other work without fear of reprisal while in boardroom meetings I’m sure we would – but what are the most common things people do during a teleconference?

A study from InterCall found that while doing other work was something almost two-thirds (65%) of people do while on a conference call, over half (55%) admitted to eating or making food.

Alarmingly, almost half (47%) admit to going to the bathroom while on a conference call – taking ‘hand-free’ to a whole other level!

Texting (44%) and social media (43%) also featured high up the list, while a quarter (25%) somehow managed to play video games while on a business call – if GTA V is the game in question that could make for an interesting exchange if you miss the mute button.

Just over a quarter (27%) also admitted to falling asleep while on a conference call.

You’re calling from where?!

As well as finding out how people multi-task while on a conference call, the study also looked at the strange places people have conducted calls from. Here are some of the best…

Image source: CollegeHumor
Image source: CollegeHumor

In the woods, during a hiking trip

A service station bathroom

McDonald’s Playplace

A church during a wedding rehearsal


A clothing-store changing room

Hospital accident and emergency

The closet of a friend’s house during a party

Mobile technology is one of the main reasons people can dial-in from any location that has a strong enough signal and dialling in to a conference call from a smartphone is growing ever more popular among remote workers, rising from 19.4% in 2011 to 21.2% in 2013.

One of the study’s stranger findings – the number of people calling from the bathroom aside – was that 80% of respondents are more likely to mute themselves when using a mobile device rather than a landline.

Why do people hit the mute button?

The majority (69%) do it to simply eliminate background noise, while almost two-thirds (65%) do so to talk to someone else. Half (50%)  will hit mute when visiting the bathroom (so the other half don’t?!), over a third (33%) do so to eat or make food, while 18% hit mute to make another call.

Why do you hit mute on a conference call? Let us know in the boxes below or on Twitter.


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