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Too Much of a Good Thing: When Do Collaboration Tools Become Counterproductive?

Posted August 31st, 2023 in Articles

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many forecasters predicted that the office environment would largely become a relic of the past. With companies working quickly to make working from home a viable option for employees at all levels, many assumed that the exodus from the office would be permanent.

Collaboration tools like Slack, Teams and Zoom have become essential communication channels within many corporate organizations. While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of these types of tools, many companies began adopting these tools well before 2020, and even more are continuing to use them on a daily basis today.

While these types of tools can help to improve productivity—especially with remote workforces—there is clearly a point of diminishing returns. In fact, as discussed in a recent Harvard Business Review article, there comes a point at which having too many collaboration tools can turn counterproductive.

Understanding the Issue: An Overwhelming Volume (and Burden) of Communications

As the article explains, with the average worker receiving more than 100 new emails daily along with pings, comments, direct messages and other communications on multiple collaboration platforms, “[i]t’s no surprise then that today’s workers feel . . . trapped by the very things advertised to boost their productivity.” Rather than feeling empowered to do their jobs more effectively, workers are increasingly feeling overwhelmed, trapped in front of their devices, and unable to get ahead. This stifles their productivity, leads to job dissatisfaction, and ultimately devalues companies’ investments in these tools—if not frustrating the purpose of these investments entirely.

Using Collaboration Tools Effectively (and Productively)

In light of these concerns, what is the solution? The article offers a handful of suggestions. For example, to ensure that collaboration tools are serving their intended purpose, companies can:

Impose Constraints – Limit the purposes for which personnel can use collaboration tools like Slack, Teams and Zoom. For example, allow team members to use Slack for time-sensitive communications only. That way, if an employee receives a message through Slack, the employee will know to prioritize providing a response.

Eliminate Redundancies – Many companies use multiple collaboration tools when they really only need one. Eliminating redundancies can make it easier for employees to keep track of their messages, and this can help reduce stress while increasing productivity.

Promote “Conscious Reflection” – Are employees sending messages that aren’t necessary? Are they using collaboration tools to pass off responsibility rather than tackling tasks head-on? By promoting what the article calls “conscious reflection,” companies can make sure their employees are using their collaboration tools as intended.

Companies can also streamline their operations and cut down on unnecessary expenses by taking an organization-wide approach to communication management. By avoiding what the article dubs the “credit card approach”—allowing individual department managers to buy subscriptions for their teams—companies can reduce unnecessary spending while also implementing clear guidelines, policies and procedures. With the right approach, this can benefit both the company and its workforce, and it can set the table for a truly collaborative approach to project management, client services and customer care.

Speak with a Consultant at Mithras Investments

If you would like to know more about how your company can use collaboration tools more effectively, we invite you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment with a consultant at Mithras Investments, please call 305-517-7911 or inquire online today.

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