Instant messaging as a primary way of communicating is rapidly becoming the go-to way of keeping on top of business comms.
Here are some interesting figures:
43% of US companies – across all sectors – are using instant messaging as a primary means of comms, in some sectors like tech this figure rises to nearly 80%.
Hence in niche tech enclaves like the film media in Soho, London you won’t find desks with phones anymore. A leading creative from an established agency said,
We don’t need them…we can stay completely up to the moment on any project with a well organized Slack feed
So is email and actually speaking to people becoming something of a generational relic?
Instant Messaging – the Good Stuff
Some of the knee jerk support for instant messaging is pretty rational.
Obviously its ‘up-to-the moment’. As a project manager you can see the pipeline and where the attention needs to go. Your attention is drawn to that which is current – no trawling through acres of email threads, a red dot means you haven’t seen it…and of course the investment compared to a costly internal telecoms system is significantly lower.
An article in the International Journal of Communication and Media Science found that ‘Workplace Whatsapp groups were a facilitator for organisational well-being’ .This is looking from the perspective of problem solving, managing emergencies and decision making’.
Good news huh?
So, what about some of the challenges?
A recent study of 1,400 information workers commissioned by Microsoft found that 40% of people work outside of regular hours in a way that interferes with family time. The report also found 70 percent of professionals don’t fully unplug from work.
We aren’t great at multitasking either and one of the other challenges is that the frequent attendance to instant messaging plays havoc with our rest/relax response. It takes a staggering 23 minutes to refocus after checking instant messaging (University of California The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress). This pretty much means being ‘on’ instant messaging as a primary comms platform really burns the parasympathetic response.
Research from Utah State University found that a person’s use of their mobile in personal time led to higher instances of burnout, a decreased commitment to their employer, and an increased likelihood of quitting their job.
Some pretty hectic data for and against….
What do we do?
So how do we take advantage of this relatively new platform without taking a burn on personal time and ‘down time’ or end up hating our new role?
Here’s six tips that may preserve your Wellbeing and create Instant Messenger equilibrium:
- Just check out how many comms platforms you have on your phone? I’ve just looked at mine – I’ve six – it’s not unusual to have eight or even ten. Switch off push notifications
- Diary time with valued colleagues for a quick coffee or nip out for a sandwich together – socially we still need ‘IRL – we all need work relationships that are In Real Life…
- Think about after hours messaging – what’s a cut off time that’s reasonable?
- Leave your phone at the bedroom door always
- Use ‘flight-mode’ at night
- During working days have boundaried ‘no-phone’ moments – even if it’s just 20mins.
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