Harvard Phases Out Office Landlines. Is Your Workplace Next?

Rather than maintain its landlines, the university is opting to subsidize cell phones for employees at its new online learning initiative.

America's oldest university has a penchant for trying new and innovating things. One example: HarvardX, the university's fancy new online learning and research platform. Jonah Newman of Marketplace talks about HarvardX as if it were an ambitious new startup, which makes it fitting the way he goes on about its new digs:

"When the team at HarvardX began setting up its new offices in Cambridge, down came the walls and the cubicles, in came the long tables and shared work spaces. And out went the landlines. Or most of them anyway."

Nothing says "dragging education into the 21st century" quite like abandoning technologies of old. And, like it or not, your landline is quickly becoming about as pragmatic as the Pony Express. Harvard's IT department, in dealing with an aging system that gets used less and less each year, has made it a goal to ease the university community off wired phones. Thus, as HarvardX's offices are new, the decision was made not to fit them with landlines. Instead, the University gives employees $50 per month to subsidize their cell phones. 

Such an approach probably wouldn't work for every office. Many are highly dependant on their Shoretel or Cisco system, especially if customers are calling in at a high rate. Another issue that arises is the blurring of the line between "working" and "not working." The nice thing about having an office landline is that you won't be bothered with work calls when you're on your own time.Still, it's difficult to imagine that 50 years from now we'll still be employing the same system of receptionists fielding and directing calls to unattended office landlines. It also feels like it won't be long until the landline goes the way of the phone booth. 

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Photo credit: Gajus / Shutterstock

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