People are part of every organization. However, a job well done can be hampered by distractions. Professional communication policy is important for any organization. You must have one.
According to a study by Asurion, last year Americans checked their phone an average of 96 times a day. If this seems like a big number to you, then think about how many times you have checked your phone today. The stressors lately may have only increased the number of these examinations. Given all this, we can safely conclude that this is a habit that we will not get rid of soon.
Today, more than ever, we rely on technology to connect with the outside world. They have acquired an even greater role in maintaining communication with our colleagues and clients. However, endless emails, frequent Zoom appointments, lengthy phone calls, and all the other notifications that appear on the screens of our mobile devices can impair our productivity and disturb our focus.
“Digital congestion is perhaps the biggest problem in the modern workplace,” Larry Rosen and Alexandra Samuel wrote in the 2015 Harvard Business Review. Their conclusion sounds even more true today. “We waste time and energy on relatively insignificant activities and information. This keeps us busy, but not productive, “they wrote.
In the transition to working from home, many companies have turned to different communication platforms to allow their employees to keep in touch from a distance. However, months have passed since the beginning of the pandemic and it is time to think about whether this permanent relationship does us no more harm than good. Recent research on the subject points to such conclusions. According to them, this over-connectivity can be detrimental to people’s productivity and motivation.
But what can we do to limit it? Dropping these platforms is not a solution. Instead, leaders must make targeted efforts to reduce the impact of these negative effects by building a positive digital culture. Here’s how my team and I approached this goal:
Reduce the number of checks
I will say it in the simplest possible way – there is no way to build a culture of trust if you do not give your team freedom of action. What exactly does this mean? For the first time, stop sending emails to your employees late in the day and want them to let you know about progress on a task every hour. In other words, be more moderate and tactful in using communication platforms.
Set clear communication policies
As our personal and professional lives are now virtually inseparable, we need to start implementing healthy communication policies to ensure that we are not “online” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Be careful not to become a micromanager and create clear expectations for work communication. If your employees are in a hurry to respond to your every message, even during non-working hours, then you have created wrong expectations. As Amy Blankson writes for HBR, setting a precedent is key. My employees and I have agreed that over the weekend, each of us deletes the Slack messaging app from our mobile phone. We have also agreed not to respond to emails during non-business hours. This is a rule that I introduced before the current crisis, but today I pay special attention to its observance. Also, I have set clear boundaries for communication with my team, as everyone knows when they can contact me and when they will not find me.
Keep mobile devices away
A 2017 study found that while smartphones have the potential to significantly improve our lives, their constant presence in it affects us badly on a purely mental level. In other words, when our phones are in our field of vision, they negatively affect our productivity. To combat the urge to look at your phone, the New York Times advises you to start storing your mobile devices in lockers or placing them at a greater distance from you. This will improve your concentration and save you a lot of time and energy, which costs you any notification that appears on the display of your phone.
Technology and good mental state
After all, the way people use technology in their spare time is not up to us. However, we can always find a way to encourage the use of working holidays for more meaningful and useful activities. I regularly practice mental health techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and walking in the air.
As I said, we will not soon be able to get rid of the habit of constantly holding our phones in our hands. Many of us use them to buy various goods, to keep in touch with our loved ones and to escape the monotony of everyday life in a pandemic. Our job as leaders is not to get rid of communication platforms, but to create a positive digital culture that allows people to take time off from work after work.