This is true both at home and at work: The average person uses 9 apps each day to communicate with family and friends. If you work for a digital pioneer like Uber, you have access to 260 digital business tools for exchanging information with your colleagues and business partners. In the midst of all this diversity, how can you control your communication and remain productive at work?
Why We Are Becoming Less Productive Despite Digital Tools
But hold on tight: Despite the various new ways we can communicate to become more efficient, our productivity growth has actually decreased. While productivity in the first decade of the 2000s – the early phase of the internet – grew at an annual rate of 2 percent, it only increased by 0.4 percent between 2011 and 2015.
We are less productive, although we imagine we are working around the clock. Our feeling of being busy and working intensively is greater than ever – yet, at the same time, our performance is decreasing. You know the feeling: Your working day is becoming increasingly compressed. More meetings, more emails, more tasks – everyday there seems to be more of everything at the workplace, yet there is not more time! How has it got like this?
1. Email is a communicative dead-end
Email is the prime example of how closely linked communicative freedom and unproductiveness are in the workplace. Surprisingly, 144 of the 200 emails that you receive in an average office job are completely irrelevant to you. On average, we spend 2.5 hours per day handling emails.
The French IT service provider Atos Origin was the first company to ban the use of email as an internal means of communication. The reason: Email communication is a one-way street – it is inefficient and leads to less human interaction among employees.
2. Virtual teams encounter an outdated working culture
The number of remote workplaces has almost doubled in recent years. You are no longer considered exotic if your employer allows you to work from home and you are part of an international virtual team. Virgin founder Richard Branson calls the classic office a thing of the past.
However, not every company has adapted its culture to this new way of working and few offer employees modern infrastructure that boosts productivity and facilitates interpersonal exchanges with your colleagues through fully-functioning communication tools.
3. When your job and private life merge
Essentially, it is a consequence flowing from the aspect mentioned above: The virtualization of the workplace has led to an always-on mentality, which makes it increasingly difficult to separate your job and your private life. With the exception of sleeping, you hardly get the rest you badly need. This makes you unproductive and makes you feel that you have lost control of your communication.
How to Work More Productively and Communicate Better
The good news: You are not alone. We have reached a point where many people are wondering how to regain control of their communication and work … and, ultimately, regain control of themselves.
1. Choose a few universal tools
The internet is full of blog articles like “20 tools your business should be using”. However, having as many tools as possible at your disposal is not the solution to your productivity problem, it is one of the root causes. If you spend more time at work organising your tool collection than doing your actual work, then you are definitely using too many tools.
Every tool constantly offers you new features with which you need to become familiar before you can use them productively. A few weeks will pass by before you become proficient – valuable time that you need for your actual job and to achieve your personal goals.
In your everyday life at the office, focus on a few tools that are really essential for your job. For example, you could use Asana or Trello for project management, G Suite or Microsoft Office 365 for file sharing and collaboration, Slack or Skype for Business for group chats and of course NFON for your verbal communication – because, as you know, language is the most effective form of communication.
Did you know that NFON offers a FREE trial of the next-generation telephone system? The full NFON experience for 30 days. No credit card, no strings attached. Try it free!
2. Concentrate on just one task
Your brain works at full power at work. Give it a chance and concentrate on just one task at a time. Digital overload is a well-known phenomenon in modern office life – many apps and alerts quickly distract you from the task at hand. Read our last blog post to receive valuable tips on how to free yourself from this overload step by step.
The bottom line: If you want to regain control of your communication at work, you will have to say goodbye to multitasking and fast task switching. The proportion of multitaskers has increased from 57 percent among Baby Boomers to 87 percent for Generation Z – and as we’ve already learned, productivity has suffered as a result. Our brain works sequentially and can only cope with one task at a time.
Multitasking only works if at least one task is running automatically, for example, chewing gum while walking. But writing an email while attentively attending a conference call? That cannot work – and because you know that, it creates a stressful situation that could easily be avoided. Only communicate on one channel at a time and work on your tasks in order.
3. Rely on interactive communication channels
As the figures mentioned above demonstrate, Generation Email has gone down a communicative one-way street. For this reason, email is particularly suited to one-dimensional communication, since every office worker can understand the problems that arise with receiving floods of emails every day.
Nevertheless, other forms of communication can also lead to a dead-end. Text messages, Twitter posts or voicemail – these are all channels where you rapidly lose control of the communication flow. You may find yourself stressed if your counterpart does not quickly respond to your WhatsApp message, especially if it has been sent and read. However, this just distracts you from other tasks and, as a result, your productivity levels plummet.
Motivate yourself and grab the phone more often and make the most of this proven interactive communication channel. This is the easiest way to stay in control of your communication and preserve your sense of freedom at work. You have the power to decide when you want to communicate, with whom, about which topic and over which communication channel.