Communication Overload: Too Many Options Causing Poor Productivity? (Infographic)

A recent study performed by Clarizen polled 300 executives from around the world, asking them if efforts to improve communication processes in the workplace had helped their companies increase productivity. Despite all we’ve heard about the productivity-boosting benefits of offering endless lines of communication, a full 81% of respondents said all their attempts had failed!

Clarizen delved further into this perplexing dilemma, and it became obvious that technology was largely to blame. That in fact, over-communication was the big bad elephant in the room regarding their issues with productivity. As the funny accompanying infographic – published by Clarizen – shows below, this is a problem that those living in the vast medieval seven kingdoms of Westeros and Essos don’t appear to suffer from.

Game of Productivity - infographic by Clarizen

Results not a big shocker

The results aren’t really surprising, despite the fact that never in the entire history of this planet has our ability to engage in seamless communication ever shown so much potential as it has present day. Before instant emails, we had voicemail; which could get lost in translation, deleted by mistake, or downright ignored!

Then came mainstream cellphones, which were wholy-notorious for losing their signal in the middle of important phone calls (if there was even a signal to start with). Then came the advent of text messaging, where people could say yes, no, or maybe without actually having to talk to anyone asking something of them.

Then along came modern software enterprise solutions, offering real-time collaboration environments – as if we didn’t already have enough ways to pass information back and forth! Now it seems that we have so many ways to get immediately in touch with other team members, people just don’t seem to know how to handle it – might as well attempt a crossing of the Narrow Sea in winter!

Businesses big and small have yet to master enterprise technology

Communication is so fast and loose, it’s just hard for each and every human being on the planet to stay up-to-date with the technology, yet still streamline our conversations enough so that everyone can follow in order to keep the gears turning on whatever initiatives are being sought.

Worse, we all tend to gravitate toward different preferences. Some like Microsoft Office 365, others lean toward Google’s comprehensive G Suite of collaboration and productivity tools. And, still others like a traditional in-person meeting to hash out the details of a project.

The four houses of productivity malcontent

The Clarizen study found that communication in business was all over the place, with four distinct “houses” adding to the complicated mission of increasing productivity by continually adding new options into the mix. Respondents to the study claimed to have adopted one or more productivity-boosting strategies in the year leading up to the poll:

  1. House of endless conversations: Basically, our ability to communicate is never turned off and companies feel compelled to add multiple technology apps so everyone on the team can keep up with the conversation (ie., Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts).
  2. House of messages: Emails, emails, and more emails – 47% said they’d tried to switch to or add providers (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) in an attempt to boost productivity.
  3. House of meetings: A little less than a quarter of the executives polled in the study claimed they’ve streamlined their meeting practices, imposing meeting time limits and limiting the number of meetings an employee is forced to attend.
  4. House of documents: 75% of the respondents claimed to have adopted cloud-based document sharing apps such as Microsoft Office and Google G Suite.

Overloaded with information and underwhelmed with productivity

The Clarizen study and the interesting GoT angle shown in the infographic can teach CEOs and managers plenty about the current state of technology-driven communication. We simply haven’t found a cohesive and efficient way to share information across the multiple lines of communication available to us today.

Communication overload
Bad, bad guy!

Considering a mere 16% of the respondents in the study claimed to be completely satisfied with the productivity of their teams, it only stands to reason that the entire business world needs some definite help to redefine best practices for communicating.

Collaboration apps will continue to improve, learning to merge seamlessly with other platforms in order to tie communication tightly to specific tasks and goals. However, as humans, we still need to work toward refining how we monitor our team’s progress as it relates to objectives, while continually striving to be more effective verbal and written communicators.