Phone fear affects half of millennial UK office workers

The results of a survey of UK office workers suggests that we are becoming increasingly anxious about answering the phone at work.

New research has uncovered staggering statistics on the degree of call anxiety exhibited by UK office workers*. Fear of making or taking calls, also known as ‘Telephobia’, is a real thing that’s not just limited to fear of calling a loved one or ordering a pizza.

Jill Isenstadt, interviewed by the BBC, is the vice president of coaching for Joyable and stated they have clients who are held back in their careers due to the thought of interacting with others over the phone.  She commented that,

For a lot of people, getting on the phone is a particularly complex interaction. You have to think of things on the fly and you have to respond to what someone is saying to you.

The research dug deeper and found out exactly how far office workers will go to avoid answering a work telephone.Out of 500 respondents, 62 per cent of office-based employees have reasons for experiencing call-related anxiety before answering the phone. The top reasons workers gave for feeling the fear were: concerns about not knowing how to deal with a query (33 per cent), anxiety about “freezing” on the phone (15 per cent), thoughts that the person on the other end could think negatively of them (nine per cent) and sounding “strange” when they speak (five per cent).

The survey’s open-text responses detailed anxieties around confrontation, being overheard, having no paper trail to backup conversations and fear that they wouldn’t be able to understand the caller on the line.

Sara Parker, Marketing Manager at Face for Business, said,

Businesses really need to make a human and emotional connection with their prospects. Ergo, employees shouldn’t really hide behind technologies such as email -–they need to start building relationships and trust.

However, phone anxiety seems to be getting worse in the millennial demographic. Daisy Buchanan over at The Guardian talks about how millennials feel ambushed by an incoming call because it comes across intrusive, especially as millennials have grown up with digitised and less direct forms of conversation – it’s only natural phone calls feel alien.

The survey uncovered that millennials – those born between 1981-1996 – are the most ‘Telephobic,’ and are going out of their way to avoid answering office phone calls, causing problems with client relationships. Seventy-six per cent of millennials experience anxiety-induced thoughts when they hear the phone ring, compared to their baby boomer colleagues (40 per cent); 72 per cent feel anxious about answering a colleague’s phone; 61 per cent will display physical, anxiety-induced behaviours when they’re the only ones in the office and the phone rings

*By Face for Business

Interested in workplace wellbeing? We recommend the Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019 and Mental Health Awareness training day.





Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

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