App Overload Can Hamper Collaboration Efforts

In Greek mythology, the Hecatoncheires were three gigantic brothers with 50 heads and 100 hands apiece. Though unsurpassed in size and power and capable of epic feats, they were considered to be terrible communicators due to the incessant chatter produced by all of those mouths.

Application overload is creating similar issues in the workplace collaboration world. Although collaboration apps are intended to improve communications and streamline workflows, there are so many in use that they are actually having the opposite effect.

A new survey of 2,000 knowledge workers conducted by CITE Research finds that workers are using an average of four separate team collaboration applications. Seventy percent say these apps generate so much real-time communication they actually make it challenging to get work done.

More than two-thirds of workers said they waste up to 60 minutes a day navigating between apps, and 68 percent said they toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour. It has become such an intrusive and frustrating process that more than half reported they’d rather do household chores or pay bills than navigate their collaboration apps.

It’s not just the collaboration apps, either. Toss in email, phone calls, text messages, social media posts, and web and video conferences, and the typical worker is under near-constant pressure to read and respond to some form of communications. That makes it tough to find the time to actually get anything done.

The disruption can’t be measured entirely in time wasted switching between communications platforms. It also disrupts workplace “flow” — the term psychologists have used to describe the state of mind one achieves when fully engaged in a task. Studies have shown that workplace interruptions negatively impact concentration and productivity. In the survey, 56 percent said searching for information in different applications is disruptive, and 31 percent said it caused them to lose their train of thought.

It gets worse if team members are operating on different platforms, which makes it difficult ot even start a conversation, much less share and modify files. The problem is that there is no way to bridge multiple solutions with a single user interface. These applications are built with a walled-garden approach to boost security, but that prevents information in one app from being accessed by another. As a result, people wind up using different apps for different audiences.

In the survey, 66 percent say they would prefer a single platform for all of their communications. Workers believe an integrated and unified approach will lead to time savings (54 percent), increased organization (52 percent), better communication with colleagues (51 percent), increased productivity (51 percent) and a feeling of control over work (32 percent).

An emerging class of collaboration tools relieve these issues by delivering a single, unified workspace for engaging in team chats, file sharing and event scheduling. The ideal soluton integrates with a broad set of productivity and collaboration apps, allowing you to work with files from other apps. Users should be able to access voice, conferencing, instant messaging and more without separate logins, dial-ins or passcodes, and instantly share notes, calendar events and new tasks with a single click.

Collaboration tools are supposed to foster teamwork and improve workflows, but app overload is making the process overly complex. The noise from too many communication threads can actually impede work and hinder productivity. IPC can help you implement a unified communication channel that cuts through the racket to enhance the user experience.