As workers slowly resume their in-office work hours, they may find something missing from their desks.
Office telephones are disappearing, replaced by internet-based phone systems that do not rely on handsets. Crain Communications, Plastics News' parent company, is among the businesses eliminating them, with handsets being removed by the end of this month. (Phone numbers will remain the same, for those of you who reach out regularly to PN staffers. It's just that we'll no longer have that familiar black plastic box with a handset, number keypad and all those transfer buttons that few of us actually know how to use.)
The United Kingdom-based Ofcom said that in 2019, the number of office landline telephones had dropped by nearly 400,000 in just one year to 4.98 million phones. The website Tech Radar estimated that traditional office phones could be "all but extinct" by 2027.
That move would mirror a trend already common for residential phone users. The National Center for Health Statistics, which has tracked Americans' phone habits for 20 years, says that 73 percent of adults had no landline by the end of 2022, The Washington Post reports.
Telephones were a big deal for plastics finding their way into every home. Bakelite phones developed by Norway-based Ericsson in 1930 were the design template for decades. Then came the 1980s and 1990s with thermoplastic phones shaped like footballs, cartoon characters and burgers.
Eliminating handsets may clear out some space and cut costs for businesses, but the nostalgic among us will miss them.