Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Public Address System Distractions:

Our fitness Center has a Public Address system. A typical announcement goes like this: “Attention all staff. Attention all staff. Alex, please pick up the phone.”
All messages are for staff, but I always listen to them. I used to work at a company that had a PAS and almost never used it. The managers felt that every announcement would cause at least 150 people to lose their train of thought for a few minutes, a productivity cost of over $1,000 per message. I don't agree with them, but I do agree that public announcements ARE distracting.

In the current case, part of the distraction, for me, is a recurring question: why say “Attention all staff”? when the message isn't for all staff, it's just for Alex Hepplemonger? Why not just say, “Alex Hepplemonger, pick up the phone!” But we know that wouldn't work. Alex H. would miss his name, not paying attention, and meanwhile, some new customer, Alex Oberlander, would rush to the desk to ask if the call was for him. I've decided to assume that, in effect, these PAS announcements really mean the same as this: “Alex Allstaff, Alex Allstaff, pick up the phone.”
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