Conference calls, previously shunned by technologists and social-media acolytes, have reemerged with great vigor in our socially-distant work environment. More equitable and less invasive than a video conference, a conference call satisfies the need for real-time discussion. It allows cross-functional teams to check in on the status of things, and gives managers a sense of control.

But like any meeting, a conference call can easily be contorted and abused into a low-leverage and wasteful exercise. Since attendees to a conference call need not be physically present in the same place, calls…