- The average employee spends a little over half of their time communicating via emails, meetings and chats.
- Communicating with ease was meant to promote productivity and connection, not hinder them — so balance is key.
- When communication turns into constant interruptions and distractions, it hampers productivity.
It’s crazy to think that too much communication could cause problems, since sometimes it feels like people don’t communicate with each other enough. But, what if we looked at it from a different perspective?
Think about a typical work week. How much time do you think people spend communicating with coworkers and superiors while also trying to get their work done?
According to a recent Microsoft study, “the average employee spends 57% of their time communicating (in meetings, email, and chat).”
Just a little over half of a worker’s day is spent communicating, in other words. So, that begs the questions: Is there such a thing as too much communication in the workplace, and what kinds of problems can arise from it? Best-selling author Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, an Allwork.Space Future of Work Voice who has been lauded by The New York Times as the “office whisperer,” gives his perspective on the role communications apps will have in the future — and how they create distractions and affect productivity.
Commonly used communication tools
From email and instant messaging to video chats and work management platforms, there’s no shortage of tools and resources we can use to communicate.
The most common and universally used tool available is email. “Emails continue to be a mainstay for formal communication,” Dr. Tsipursky stated. Although it isn’t unusual to see emojis in emails now, it’s still seen as a more serious way to communicate.
Dr. Tsipursky also shared a variety of other workplace communication tools, along with their popular uses, that will be familiar to most. He listed the following:
Instant messaging platforms for quick, informal conversations:
- Microsoft Teams
Video conferencing tools essential to remote work:
Project management tools for communication regarding specific tasks:
These just touch the surface of the communication resources that exist.
However, not all tools and resources are created equal, so it’s important to think about which ones best suit you and your organization’s goals.
“It’s crucial to remember that the best tool is the one that fits your team’s needs and enhances, not hinders, productivity and connectivity,” Dr. Tsipursky stated.
The impact on the future of work
Remote work skyrocketed after 2020, along with the world’s reliance on communications apps and tools. There’s really no turning back.
According to Dr. Tsipursky, “the future of work is fluid and hinges largely on the trend of hybrid and remote working.”
In response to Microsoft’s data that calculated employees spend 57% of their workday communicating, Dr. Tsipursky said, “As our reliance on virtual platforms continues, we can expect this figure to potentially increase.”
This fluidity and potential increase leaves room open for anything to happen, so it’s imperative to start taking action now and think of ways to prevent communication from hindering work productivity.
As the world of work continues to shift and change, time management continues to be one of the most important contributing factors to productivity. Dr. Tsipursky noted it is one key factor employees and employers need to consider.
“There’s a need for innovation to make these interactions more efficient and less time-consuming,” he said. “We should emphasize quality of interaction over quantity, helping us avoid the communication overload that can accompany remote work.”
Finding the balance between communication and productivity
So, when does communication truly become a hindrance? The answer: When it no longer facilitates productivity and connectivity and instead ends up becoming a distraction.
According to Dr. Tsipursky, “when communication turns into constant interruptions and distractions, it hampers productivity.”
Having to stop working on a project because someone asks you a question or needs your help is an easy way to not only lose time, but also lose focus. If messages, emails and phone calls are constantly streaming into your inboxes, it’s easy to take your eyes off of the work in front of you and turn your attention elsewhere. The large amounts of messages you receive every day can even cause you to feel busy.
“It’s easy to mistake being busy with being productive,” Dr. Tsipursky said, and all the messages we receive “keep us busy but may distract from the core work we need to accomplish.”
As we move into the future, it’s imperative employers and employees discover and implement practices that support effective communication, fostering productivity rather than distraction.
Two ways Dr. Tsipursky recommends approaching this problem are by utilizing “intentional communication” and implementing “deep work” periods. Setting aside specific times to focus on work and communication respectively are important for time management and maintaining focus.
He also emphasized the importance of balance; balancing the time you spend working and the time you spend communicating with others is key to improving productivity and minimizing distractions.
Coworkers have the ability to communicate now more than ever before, but with easier communication comes overutilization of the apps and tools we communicate through. Ultimately, too much communication has the potential to cause hindrances and distractions in the workplace, leading to a decrease in work productivity.
Employees, employers, companies and organizations should work together to find the balance between workplace communication and productivity to create more efficient uses of time and lessen distractions. Overall, communication has the ability to connect people and ideas, but just like everything else, too much of it has the opposite effect and can negatively impact workplace environments.