Employees ‘overwhelmed’ by number of communication options in workplace


There have been plenty of creative reasons over the years to explain how and why enterprise collaboration initiatives have failed, from a lack of transparency from the boardroom to the shop floor, to lack of employee buy-in, and many more besides. Here’s another one, from video conferencing provider Highfive’s latest survey: employees are overwhelmed by the number of options they have to communicate with one another, they get too distracted and start goofing around.

It’s an interesting theory. Even though productivity is on the rise through mobility, the workforce is faced with more distractions than ever before.

Good old fashioned procrastination is far more tempting, and many employees have probably spent a few sly minutes here and there checking Facebook updates, or using messaging tools to chat to colleagues about non-work matters.

The survey figures back this up. More than half (54%) of millennials polled admit they regularly do unrelated tasks when on conference calls, while a similar number (45%) check their phones during face to face meetings. Yet the results also noted a discrepancy; while almost half (49%) say that it is acceptable to multitask in a meeting, 45% said their biggest issue with meetings was that participants did not pay attention.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising statistic came when only 3% of respondents said productivity software made them more productive than the likes of face to face meetings, conference calls, or video conferencing.

Is mobility overrated in that regard? Perhaps not; two thirds of remote workers polled say they want to eliminate conference calls completely, while almost three quarters (71%) said they were likely to do something unrelated during a conference call.

Shan Sinha, co-founder and CEO of Highfive, argues: “As businesses continue to grow and adopt new technologies, they face the challenge of balancing productivity and distraction. The insights from our dataset show what tools and environments best keep employees both happy and productive – and ultimately build great culture in the modern workplace.”

There is one silver lining to the research, however; more than four in five employees (81%) like their co-workers and enjoy the company they work for.


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  • James Bourne

    James has a passion for how technologies influence business and has several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

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