The Workplace Communication Conundrum

By: James Flippin · May 11, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Communication Shakedown

Microsoft (MSFT) recently shared an eye-opening discovery regarding our work habits. The company found 57% of users’ time within Microsoft 365 apps is spent in meetings, emails, and chat.

This paints an interesting picture of the modern workplace, in which communication appears to have taken precedence over actual work.

Transparency and communication are necessary components of an efficient workplace. But if more than half of our working hours are dedicated to those alone, it raises the question of whether productivity is ultimately being boosted or hampered.

Talk Isn’t Cheap

In the post-pandemic workplace, digital communication through channels like Slack (WORK), Zoom (ZM), and Microsoft Teams became an integral part of most workdays, and its prevalence only continues to grow. There were more than twice as many remote meetings per employee in 2022 compared to 2020.

With this workplace shift, the opportunity cost of overcommunication can be high, leading to lower productivity and increased risk of burnout. In fact, 60% of managers surveyed said they’ve noticed the adverse effects, citing diminished innovation and breakthrough ideas.

Hush Hour

According to those surveyed in the report, 68% of workers feel they lack adequate uninterrupted focus time, while 64% expressed difficulty in managing their time and energy at work. This strain was shown to affect workers’ capacity for innovation and strategic thinking.

As a remedy to this problem, experts suggest cutting unnecessary meetings or requesting to leave early if you aren’t needed. Many companies are also taking administrative steps to address this trend. Slack instituted “Focus Fridays” in which employees turn off notifications and avoid scheduling internal meetings. Similarly, Shopify (SHOP) added “meeting-free” Wednesdays.

These efforts, if widely implemented, could give workers the space to breathe, think, and work more effectively. The key is not to shun communication, but rather to strike a productive balance.

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