Are These Tools Making Us Unproductive?
The modern office is filled with tools purported to make us more productive. From Slack to Skype to Teams, we’re always on the lookout for tools that can make our lives easier.
But do they, really?
As it turns out, this wealth of communication tools may be doing more harm than good. They aren’t just failing to be productive—they’re actually making us less productive.
Is more tech really the answer?
Productivity seems like a good goal. Companies hear data from firms like McKinsey stating that connected employees are 20-25% more productive in their organizations, then, they rush out to find new software to make it possible: G Suite tools, Facebook Messenger, Fleep, and so on. The market for these “team collaborative applications” is predicted to reach $3.5 billion by 2020, showing just how many options are available to us.
And with all the so-called productivity tools in the world, you’d think we’d be more productive than ever.
But we aren’t. And our always-on culture isn’t helping.
The drawbacks of connectivity
Is inundating ourselves with more notifications, emails, and alerts really the answer to productivity?
We don’t think so.
Yes, it’s handy to have instant access to any member of your team at any point—but what are you giving up in exchange?
How many times do you check your notifications to find that all that buzzing was just two workers discussing details of a project you have nothing to do with? How many emails and project threads do you have to scroll through before your name gets mentioned?
This overflow is more common than you think. One study conducted by Time Is Ltd. found that employees at bigger companies may send up to 200 Slack messages per week, with some power users sending thousands. Can you imagine?
Those seconds you spend refreshing your inbox or checking you messaging queue add up. Blend in the omnipresent influence of social media, which can eat up hours of time each day, and it’s clear that more does not equal better.
Instead of adding more communication tools, managers in search of productivity should take a different approach.
Tech is the problem—and the solution
It’s normal for productivity to wax and wane over the year, but managers aren’t without options. Technology may be the root of the problem, but it’s also the solution.
Consider productivity tracking apps like RescueTime or TimeDoctor, which help managers track how much time is spent on various websites, applications, programs, or tasks. This data can be pulled together in charts that offer complete breakdowns of how employees are using their time—and how to optimize that time to get more done.
Of course, productivity as a goal is as much of a personal effort as it is a company one—so managers will need to use this information as part of a broader company strategy to identify and improve worker efficiency.
Staying productive in an unproductive world
Technology doesn’t always detract from productivity, but it takes a strong employee to stay focused in the face of constant distraction. Managers need to support their team with the tools they need to succeed—and eliminate the unnecessary gadgets that distract us.