Is Your Office Communicating Efficiently?I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail about a successful and dynamic marketing company that cites a high level of ongoing communication among staff as one of its secrets to success. Email in the office is banned in favour of customized messaging software; and seemingly messages are distributed widely within the company, so everyone gets lots of messages. It certainly seems to be working for them, but I wondered if this rampant communication could have a down-side.
It’s been proven that our brains can’t actually multitask (i.e. work simultaneously on several things). What we can do is think extraordinarily fast and switch subconsciously from one thought/task to another, so that we feel as if we are multitasking.
Research has also shown that we take time to concentrate, indeed it can take up to 15 minutes for an average human to fully focus on the task at hand (yes, yes, I understand that marketers are not average). Further to this, interruptions such as being asked a question or being engaged in conversation take our mind off the task at hand and we then have to settle back into what we were concentrating on. Even subtle distractions (like your computer binging, belling or burping every time you receive an email or text) can be sufficient to take your mind off-task and force you to start your concentration process all over again.
To a degree this is a generational thing, with Millenials having grown up in a constantly connected tech/communication environment (Natalie posted an artilce a while back about What Tech-Obsessed Teens Can Teach Us About Marketing [Infographic]). But, it is more about organizations taking advantage of technology to be more productive and responsive; and tempering that with human mental and physical dynamics. Personally, my mind is constantly creating its own distractions and whether I am writing an ad campaign, determining strategy or editing policy for a client, I prefer not to be disturbed while I’m concentrating on a specific task. For this reason my computer and BlackBerry do not sound when they get an email or text (I do allow a vibration for a text on my BlackBerry, but that might only be because it feels nice). And I typically have periods every day when I work in isolation without interruption.
Having just pleaded for my personal Do Not Disturb sign, I agree that collaboration is key to creative concepts, good project management and attentive customer service. We have structured periods at the office when we work together in the same room and everyone is free to discuss anything with anyone. These sessions are critical to resolving problems, determining strategy and leveraging each other’s knowledge and problem-solving skills. Corporate growth definitely benefits from these regular sessions. However, from a “what did you get done regarding tangible work” perspective, these are the least productive parts of my week. And in any company, getting those tangible things done on-time is critical to survival.
Like a typical Canadian, I am comfortable somewhere in the middle. I feel that a productive and growth-oriented company needs both collaboration and undisturbed work time. What environment do you feel is best for your company? Does the size and type of organization make a difference?
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