Wanted: Productivity expert who can teach our team how to not use technology better. You read that right. I think we are pretty good at using technology in many ways, but there’s a dark side. It may not have the same consequences as texting and driving, but there are a lot of tech habits we all fall into – some that company cultures enable. I’m starting to get really grouchy about it because it is costing my company and many others in wasted time, lost productivity and even critical thinking skills.
Top of my list are Outlook notifications – either an audible or visible notification for every single email, no matter how unimportant. Unless someone is in a direct customer service role, why would an employee need to hear a bell go off or see a screen pop-up so they can stop whatever task is underway and review a new message? And why is there a need to be alerted on receipt of every email?
I feel the same way about out-of-office notifications, especially if there is no clear alternate contact listed. I don’t need to know you are on the beaches of Cancun and won’t be checking email until next Monday. All you did was make me jealous, frustrated, angry or all three.
Next on my list is the use of email by teams/workgroups to hold a conversation better suited to either a two-minute stand-up meeting or some chat function. How many times do email threads in your company look more like a text message string? I may be showing my age, but how many email conversations take place between associates who are within 25-50 feet of each other?
Not far behind on my list are devices – in meetings, cars and most public areas. We have a company policy that phones, tablets and laptops are not allowed in meetings unless there is a specific presentation need for them. No multitasking allowed. Be present or not.
As long as I am on a rant, why is there a need in a business setting to have a ringtone volume that qualifies as a Coast Guard-approved signaling device in case of emergency?
We are in an amazing technology revolution that has transformed our lives and businesses, and will continue to. But like four-wheel drive, it is getting as many or more people into trouble as out of trouble. We are so distracted and tethered to our devices. We have discussed the above items as a group, but I know very few businesses that have a policy or effective ways to manage or optimize their technology usage. Please share your successes and I will be delighted to spread the word.
Now, don’t get me started on meetings.