Watch CBS News

Coca-Cola says life is better without voice mail

When it comes to good things in life, most people wouldn't rank voice mail at the top of the list.

Noting that trend, Coca-Cola (KO) has offered employees the option to turn off their voice mail, the company told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement. The world's largest soft-drink maker has become one of the biggest corporations to cut off voice mail for employees who opted out. Not surprisingly, most employees jumped at the chance to turn off the function.

"Employees were given the option to turn off their voice mail systems at the Atlanta Office Complex and our Coca-Cola Technology Plaza, and only 6 percent opted to keep the voice mail," the company wrote in an email.

While it may seem incongruous that one of the nation's biggest corporations would eliminate such a long-standing part of work life, the fact is that fewer people than ever are using voice mail. For some, especially younger workers, voice mail is more of a time-suck than a solution, requiring people to press buttons, listen to (often) long-winded messages with a pen ready in hand to jot down numbers or emails rattled off by the message-leaver. That's becoming less enticing for workers used to texts and emails instead, resulting in a 8 percent decline in voice mails from October 2013 to April 2014, according to Vonage.

For Coca-Cola, the decision to shed voice mail isn't only in response to time-pressed employees. The plan will also help cut costs, with Coke estimating the savings at less than $100,000 per year, the company told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement. Still, the company said the primary reason wasn't cost savings, but "changing the tools and methods in which we communicate as a company."

As today's youths enter the work force, even fewer may rely on voice mail given their preference for texting and email. About two-thirds of teens say they exchange text messages every day, according to a Pew Research study from 2012. At the same time, the number of teens calling their friends is declining, with one-quarter saying they cannot or do not ever talk on a cell phone.

When it comes to landlines, teens are even more allergic to the old-school technology, with only one in five teenagers say they talk to people daily on a landline.

Workers under 35 years old barely use voice mail, Michael Schrage, a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, told Bloomberg News, which first reported Coke's decision to allow workers to opt out of voice mail.

Companies are increasingly using technology that converts voice mail into texts or email, Bloomberg notes. That's a function also provided by Google's (GOOG) Voice app, which records voice mail but also transcribes the messages into texts.

Coke employees who wanted to keep voice mail as a "business critical need" were able to do so, the company said. That includes the company's press room, which continues to offer voice mail.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.