Employees find creative ways to use time when placed on hold

You can channel the time you spend on hold to advance your career, whether for a few minutes or much longer. Think of it as an opportunity. Capitalize on it.

Matt Lee, director of marketing at Adhere Creative, a full-service marketing company in Houston, Texas, finds himself on hold prior to virtual meetings, customer support and, less frequently, when seeking approvals from clients for web-based projects.

“The larger the client, the more people you have to go through,” he says. “You need to get to the right person, maybe five people at a time, before moving on to the next part of the project.” He estimates sitting on hold 10 to 20 minutes per week.

Clients keep Christine Alexander on hold in bites of 30 seconds to two minutes when she freelances in client relations and as a producer at HuB Studios LLC in Sarasota, Fla., a production company specializing in web video, TV commercials and content origination.

“We’re talking about what we need to do for their video, where we’ll go, how many cameras — mostly scheduling,” she explains. Alexander orients them to the process before the project goes to a development team to generate a proposal and, after project acceptance, functions as a producer. She estimates that she loses about five minutes per week when clients fact-check, a call pulls one away or a delivery intervenes.

Both people make the most of their on-hold time. At Adhere, Lee uses the time either to work on a project, the current one or another, or for professional development. “You’d never see me clicking a pencil wasting time,” he remarks.

“I read about 10 to 15 blog articles a day to keep up with trends and tools needed for my job,” he says, “including the print-based version, like a magazine or book. Staring at a screen gets tiring, even if it’s a book about CSS or HTML or some sort of programming language. I absorb information better when I can hold the pages in my hand. We have a large bookshelf with different resources on branding, web design and graphic design. It’s the perfect time to read blogs, because I can grab what I need and move on.” This investment in reading frees him for other tasks at the end of the day.

Alexander avoids telephones because of telephone overload from some previous jobs in traditional office spaces where she covered multiple lines. At HuB, which is in an incubator, she enjoys the collaborative environment with people in varied businesses, some creative, coming and going.

Rather than sit at her desk on hold, she walks around, making eye contact with people she may or may not know. Her silly faces give her an opening to potential video clients. “People may be there for an app but they need a video,” she explains. “They don’t know where to go and run into me as I’m making one of my silly faces.”

More than once she’s converted a person to a client for HuB or her improv business, LaughingLunches.com, which puts on shows and does teambuilding for businesses. Living a double life freelancing at HuB and running her own business, she finds an unconventional way to secure business, even on brief holds.

Whether your job is traditional like Lee’s or not, make the most of being on hold. Your career deserves it.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2014 Passage Media.