The first generation of chat apps succeeded in solving the inherent problems of email and making the workplace more connected. The goal for the second generation of chat apps is achieving that without introducing clutter, noise and distraction.

Brief was founded on the mission of making workplace communications simple and effective. By helping team members organize and prioritize their conversations, tasks and files, Brief can help businesses achieve more.

Over the coming weeks we will share more about our philosophy, the benefits of prioritization and clever ways to achieve more in your personal and professional lives. But first, let’s introduce some basic problems with the way we communicate today.

The Dark Side of Chat

Cluttered inboxes. Endless threads. Lost attachments. Email problems have plagued workplace communications for years.

When chat apps like Slack first launched, many businesses were sure it was the solution to all their email problems. These apps were simple and even enjoyable, and they seemed like the best way to organize enterprise communications and keep everyone connected.

Unfortunately, these solutions may have evolved into fresh problems. Messaging apps have fostered a workplace culture of constant interruptions and distractions. Jason Fried [1], CEO of web development company Basecamp, has described group chat as like “being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda.”

Group chats have also become a popular spot for sharing jokes. Managed by Q[2], an office cleaning and management service, notes that 20 percent of all messages sent through its company chat channels are animated GIFs. While this can be fun, it can also produce an endless stream of distraction and hurt your ability to produce quality work.

Unfortunately, for some companies, workplace communications have become just as much of a drain on productivity as personal messaging apps, news sites and social media.

Is this a problem at your organization? Here are just a few of the issues that can arise from workplace chat apps:

1. Constant Notifications and Interruptions

With most employees involved in numerous group chats or channels and juggling dozens of conversations throughout the day, it’s virtually impossible to get a break from the constant interruptions.

university study [3] found that workers interrupted during a cognitive task experienced several issues:

  • 2x the number of errors
  • 30 to 100 percent increase in reporting the feeling of being annoyed at work
  • 2x in reporting feeling anxiety at work
  • 27 percent more time to complete tasks

2. High Expectation of Availability and Responsiveness

The need to be “always on” can make employees feel as though they are being evaluated on their participation in group conversations rather than on their work. Some feel they must participate in the conversation just so it appears that they are devoted and on top of things. This participation for participation’s sake — while also struggling to find time to get real work done — further compounds employees’ feelings of anxiety.

3. Lack of Prioritization

Due to the constant stream of messages and the need to stay active in dozens of channels and group chats, the average worker finds it difficult to prioritize which tasks are most important on a daily and weekly basis. Company chats can promote a workflow that causes employees to react to other people’s concerns and priorities rather than focusing on important tasks.

This new world of bloated inboxes and noisy group chats is doing more than hurting worker productivity. It is actively increasing their stress and decreasing the quality of their work.

Most owners and managers looking for solutions to their productivity problems have probably already noticed the world of enterprise communications is in need of a new type of solution. Employees still need the ease of use and efficiency of modern chat platforms without the constant interruptions, depleted attention and unnecessary anxiety.