As a CEO, I’m often amazed at the amount of information that’s presented to me daily: My phone rings. Emails rush through my inbox. Meetings are scheduled. At times, it’s hard to keep up, but it’s nothing compared to the overwhelming demands often faced by my employees.
Employees are experiencing a new hurdle in the workplace called “infobesity,” or information overload. And consuming too much information can cloud our ability to make good decisions. This is especially true in the workplace since employees are asked to make multiple decisions every day, some often crucial to a company’s success. The results of these decisions can affect the entire workforce, so it’s easy to see why there’s been a rise in companies working to combat this challenge.
Companies are searching for a balance between old ways of working and modern technology to make employees more productive. One emerging trend is taking steps to better structure company information through the adoption of a digital workplace.
The following tips can help you mitigate some of the side effects of infobesity for a happier and healthier workforce:
Make cultural changes from the top.
Overload doesn’t only occur when we look for information. Employees spend countless hours weekly filtering their inboxes. Some emails are necessary, but we shouldn’t let them overrun our day.
Using productivity apps can help reduce the number of emails, but they can also be a double-edged sword. More apps means more dispersed data. One key to success in this instance is to appropriately filter these apps through a central access platform.
These days, employees have little control over the amount of incoming data they need to do their jobs. But what they can control is the number of outgoing messages, emails and comments. As a CEO, I believe it’s my responsibility to lead by example in our work practices, so I place a limit on any unnecessary communications. Successful cultural change starts from the top, so I urge my fellow executives to adopt this approach.
Use notifications to your advantage.
Most employees are used to reviewing notifications in their personal lives. You can use this to your benefit in the workplace by tasking managers with the responsibility of interacting with posts so that their staff feels heard in real time. This way, employees will know they are being recognized, and managers will be more engaged with their teams.
But notifications can sometimes impact productivity. According to research from online learning company Udemy, 50% of employees say they are less productive due to workplace distractions. And, interestingly, 59% agree that personal use of technology is more distracting than work tools.
Using smart notification centers, employees can better control the speed of incoming information. Reducing notifications during meetings, for instance, helps keep people focused. Moreover, muting notifications during breaks allows brains to momentarily rest and refresh so that employees are prepared when they return to work.
Encourage more face time.
A strong digital workplace encourages social collaboration and creates strong relationships. But to develop a true sense of belonging, it takes more in-person communication. In our company, I oversee teams that are spread across different countries, which makes it particularly important for us to build strong work relationships — not just through frequent video conferences, but also by prioritizing and scheduling regular in-person visits.
We all suffer from “meeting burnout,” so I try to avoid unnecessary meetings. However, some situations call for face time, especially when dealing with sensitive issues. You can avoid ongoing email threads by organizing a 20-minute work meeting, for example. Face-to-face communication tends to generate more ideas and can solve problems faster.
Create a central repository for your business.
Organizations have the power to reduce the amount of time employees spend searching for information. Providing easy, fast access to shared spaces for collaboration and file sharing within a central repository, such as a corporate intranet, is hugely helpful. A unique and effective digital platform can transform disorganized shared information into structured knowledge. Leaders should use this repository to share important company news. Develop a cadence and stick to it so that employees are excited to hear from you on a regular basis.
What’s more, intranet platforms can also provide profiled information. This is a smart way to deliver targeted information that focuses on employees’ needs according to their location or job position, for instance.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by infobesity in today’s workplace. Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to overcome this challenge, rather than adding to the problem.
So, before you add another email to a long thread or download a productivity app, take a moment to consider if there’s a more efficient way to share and manage information. You could end up freeing more time during the week to focus on other business priorities so you can enjoy your downtime away from the office