Messaging apps have undoubtedly changed the way we communicate in the workplace, especially as we transition to remote working and away from email, which has been the de facto communication tool for so long.
Despite the many productivity-enhancing features that many of these apps offer, we can also say that they tend to do the opposite.
Are messaging apps killing your productivity? Or, maybe, that’s how you use them? Let’s dive deeper.
5 Different Ways Workplace Messaging Apps Can Limit Your Productivity
1. Information overload
As if email overload wasn’t a big enough problem, you now have to deal with the constant flow of messages in your chat apps, which have, for the most part, become the new inboxes. Like all junk mail in your inbox, not all messages from your chat apps deserve your attention.
You’ve probably found yourself on a Slack channel you weren’t supposed to be in or a channel crowded with too many participants, or you have co-workers discussing the latest celebrity gossip in a channel for work-related issues.
The result is information overload, which can be just as debilitating as an overflowing email inbox, leading to decision fatigue, stress, and ultimately reduced productivity.
2. Vital information gets lost
One of the side effects of information overload is that some vital information gets lost in the mix. If you fail to adopt the right processes, work-related information can quickly become buried in a pile of cool talk or off-topic discussions.
You end up spending most of your workday scrolling through a sea of messages from one communication channel or app to another in the hope of finding the critical information you need. It can be an exercise in futility and a huge waste of time in the workplace.
3. Too many communication apps
What internal communication tool do you use to communicate with your remote colleagues? Microsoft Teams? Soft? E-mail? WhatsApp ?
Maybe a mix of all of the above?
In your search for the latest and most feature-rich business email app, you may have installed too many, which can quickly turn into a productivity nightmare.
If you’re constantly jumping from app to app throughout the day, you’re wasting time and fragmenting your attention, making it hard to focus on a task.
That said, you might want to find ways to avoid overuse of communication and collaboration apps in your workplace.
4. You’re “always on”
Constant connectivity and expectations of being available at all times to respond to messages have become the norm in today’s workplace. However, this culture of always being “on the go” and working outside the confines of traditional working hours can lead to several undesirable consequences.
First, working longer hours does not necessarily mean being more productive. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. If you find yourself working late at night or on weekends, you are likely to burn out quickly, which will lead to a decline in work quality and performance.
But it’s not just about your professional life, because your personal life can quickly suffer as well. There is little time for relaxation and rejuvenation when you are always “on the go”, leading to mental and physical health issues.
5. Endless Notifications
In your quest to be more connected in hopes of increasing your productivity, you may have inadvertently signed up for an endless stream of notifications from your chat apps. At first glance, those little red pop-ups and tingles might seem innocuous, but they can quickly become a huge distraction, unintentionally leading to context switching and reduced productivity.
Sometimes just seeing those red pop-ups (even if you’re not reading the messages) can be enough to make you lose focus and disrupt your flow.
So what can you do to avoid these productivity pitfalls?
Top Strategies for Achieving Productive Workplace Communication
1. Adopt asynchronous communication
Overemphasizing immediate responses and real-time communication, especially when team members work in different time zones, can end up doing more harm than good.
Instead of expecting (or worse, demanding) instant responses, embrace asynchronous communication. This communication style allows you to respond to messages at your own pace, reducing interruptions and allowing you to focus on more important tasks.
2. Integrate communication and collaboration tools
You don’t always have to add another communication app to your arsenal when you find a new one. It takes time for everyone on your team to get used to a new tool, so it’s often best to stick with what you have, especially when it already offers the features you need.
Instead of signing up for another app, take the time to evaluate your existing tools to see if you can integrate them with other apps you use to streamline your workflow. This way, you won’t need to switch apps as often and you can avoid the associated productivity loss.
3. Create an internal wiki
An internal wiki is a central repository for your team’s knowledge and information. It’s a great way to keep all your vital information organized and accessible in one place.
A wiki can help reduce the need for constant communication by making it easy for team members to find answers to their questions. You can also leverage your internal wiki to create a manual for communicating with your team to document best practices and company-wide guidelines.
This can include anything from how and when to use specific tools, to defining what you consider to be “urgent” communication and the ideal response time.
4. Customize your tools
How you use your communication and collaboration tools can have a significant impact on your productivity. If you’re constantly interrupted by notifications, try customizing your settings to minimize distractions.
For example, you can turn off notifications for specific channels or conversations, set up Do Not Disturb times, or even snooze notifications completely during your scheduled focus time. By customizing your tools to your needs, you regain control of your productivity.
Additionally, if you use Slack, you can add the @Must-Read extension to your workspace to ensure urgent messages are always seen. This Slack app lets you mark specific posts as must-read, and team members will have all of their critical posts in one batch to avoid wasting time scrolling through chat history.
Use your email apps the right way to maximize productivity
While chat apps can be a great way to increase productivity, they can also be a major distraction if not used properly. We can conclude that it mainly depends on how you use these tools.
By following the strategies above, you can regain control of your productivity and avoid these productivity pitfalls.
How to Overcome Collaboration Overload in Your Workplace
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