Voice mail is great, since it allows flexibility of schedules and locations. You can be just about anywhere, and unavailable, but still receive voice mail messages. This allows more productivity, without the loss of communication.....in theory.
After a personal experience, and a similar experience by my boss, I've come to the opinion that voice mail is the ultimate method for public sector workers to avoid the public. To add insult to injury, voice mail systems for many municipalities have reached the point there are no humans answering the phone. Otherwise, there's no real responsibility and these workers can go for days, or longer, without being accountable to the people they serve.
About two years ago, I had to contact a local municipality to verify the location of their underground utilities. The underground maps were incomplete, the plans didn't show any utilities, but the manholes and valve box covers proved the opposite. I called the appropriate departments, left voice messages and didn't receive a reply. I tried again, with the same result. I even called an engineer I know and, once again, left a voice message. Nobody ever called me back.
In Texas, the law states that if you disturb the ground, you're considered an excavator. Even if it's only to put a new fence post in your yard, you call, someone will either locate an underground utility, or tell you they have nothing there. They have 48 hours. This one call system is mandatory, except for municipalities. You call them and they come at their leisure - if at all.
Eventually, a city maintenance supervisor - that knew they would repair anything we broke - came to the job site out of curiosity. They knew about the project and wondered about the tight confines of the new structure. They made sure the underground utilities were marked and helped in every way they could.
So, the supposed effort to become more productive has a different outcome. My boss had a similar experience trying to determine code and permit requirements for another municipality. I guess complaints are in order. Please leave a message and then press pound.