Due to the pandemic and consequent growth of remote work, there is a widespread use of communication apps. Slack and Microsoft Teams dominate this category. These apps include features to chat, video conference and share files with other team members, no matter where they are located.
What started out as a convenience, however now has become an irritant. These apps constantly force you to pay attention to the chatter going on in their channels, even though many of the communications are of little importance to you. Getting constantly distracted reduces productivity as you don’t get any space to do deep thinking and concentrate on the tasks at hand.
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Here are some tips to make your communication apps less annoying:
- Avoid the temptation to start conversations in chat channels unless you are clear of what you want to achieve. Poorly thought-out chats lead to unnecessary back and forth trying to sort issues that could have been avoided in the first place through a properly worded message.
- Develop informal best practices with your team members on work-life boundaries. Be clear of when you will be available to discuss work. Just because your colleague’s time zone is different than yours, doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your personal time for work.
- Instead of free-wheeling chats, you may get more done if you put your thoughts down on paper, shared it with your team, and then followed up with a phone call. This will give your team time to digest the information and provide thoughtful input.
- Ask your teammates not to put you in chat channels where your involvement is peripheral. There is no reason for you to be in the technical support channel when you are the finance guy. In such instances it may be more effective for the technical support person to contact you through a direct chat that is to the point.
- Use email when necessary. Yes, you got that right, sometimes email is more effective than chat, even with your own team members. Chat forces the recipient to respond immediately and can be stressful. Email gives you space to think before responding.
- Set up scheduled video conferences with a written agenda to go over routine items. For example, it may be easier for the marketing manager to go over the weekly web site visitor information in a video conference with screen sharing instead of chatting in a chat channel.
- Be thoughtful about the apps you integrate in a chat channel. Just because you can integrate somebody’s tweets that you find informative, doesn’t mean your whole team needs to be bothered with this information.
- Don’t start a new channel unless you are sure the information you will be discussing is not already covered in another channel. Having too man channels is counterproductive to the idea of keeping your work organized to reduce stress, and increase productivity.
- Schedule time for banter. While in the office a lot of socializing happens at the water cooler. These informal conversations help build relationships and allow people to know each other outside of their work roles. Such conversations now need to happen using online media. It is a paradox that an informal event needs to be scheduled! But if you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.
- Be open to the idea of looking at new ideas in work communication. Take for instance a new app called Clariti. This app takes a completely different approach to team collaboration as compared to Slack and Teams. While it has all the features of Slack and Teams including chat, video conferencing, screen sharing, and cloud document access, it also includes email and personal calendar to keep track of to dos. The main power of Clariti is that you can develop your own thread of communication that includes chats, emails, to dos, documents… that are related to a topic. Unlike Slack where all related chats appear in a pre-determined channel of fixed participants, Clariti supports dynamic conversations that can start from a chat, include an email and result in a to do, with many different participants added and removed as needed. All chats, emails, to dos, threads and even notes of voice calls are automatically stored in TopicFolders that can be accessed at any time, completely eliminating the need for search. Clariti indeed is a new paradigm in work communication. You can check out Clariti at https://clariti.app
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While technology has been extremely helpful in helping all of us overcome the challenges from this awful virus, it has also brought its own set of annoyances. The tips shared in this blog will help you make your work a little easier.