As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, contemporary video call and messaging platforms for the workplace are supposed to make us more productive – but they can seriously harm our productivity and even increase the chance of a burnout.
Video calls and texting have become our means to communicate with colleagues on a daily basis. ‘Zooming’ or ‘slacking’ are integral in our day to day language and there is a multitude of studies that analyse the various components of working from home (some showing a rise in productivity). However, excessive messaging and video calls can actually lead to a drop in performance. Research has shown that the replication of communication is a reason for getting less done and can even cause fatigue.
A study on the causes of Zoom fatigue suggests that non-verbal communication actually enables a more natural conversational flow. Additionally, when using only audio, we’re not constantly distracted by staring (and judging) our own face, gestures and other attributes that we would usually not pay attention to in a normal conversation. Of course, video calls can be quite beneficial, but only until the fatigue kicks in. This is why some experts are actively calling for fewer video call meetings.
Similarly, work-related messaging platforms such as Slack are often misused and have in many cases become a place of information overload. While the boons of such a platform are undeniable, the past year has ensured we’ve become dependent on messaging as a form of work communication now more than ever. Especially now that we are not able to gather impromptu with our colleagues face to face.
Unfortunately, this can lead to a few complications: People can lose valuable time on their work whenever they’re interrupted (that all too familiar Slack notification “pop” soundbite, to name one) which heavily decreases the overall amount of getting work done.
In the case of Slack, its default settings allow for having as many conversations as possible, limitless channels and the pressure of having to respond timely. This can lead to annoyance and confusion over time and most importantly a lot of stress – which ultimately can result in burnout.
As we (hopefully) approach the end of the pandemic and more companies are considering a hybrid model for working environments in the near future (where people have more flexibility to either work from the office or work from home) there is definitely a need for improvement on work communication.
But where there is a problem, solutions are usually not that far. After a year of remote working, we can be sure to anticipate some innovative productivity platforms and improvements in the existing ones – and will hopefully cease to be stuck in those never-ending zoom meetings.