Posts Tagged instant messaging

“Concussions” from office work?

In line with a previous post, the way we communicate in the workplace is evolving, and we’re now having to face a horde of new potential interruptions in our day as email, voicemail, instant messaging and rushed coworkers all clamor for our attention.  Despite the common perception that the younger workers of today thrive in the chaotic world of multiple inputs and constant interruption, it turns out the opposite might be true.

A study by The Institute for Innovation & Information Productivity and Oxford University may end up changing the way we look at work processes and their impact on productivity. The research, highlighted here, claims that younger workers are far more susceptible to performance degradation when constantly interrupted while performing challenging cognitive tasks than previously thought, and older workers are potentially better suited to work under the rapid-fire conditions prevalent in the modern workplace.

The researchers say that younger workers (18-21) who are subjected to constant interruption exhibit symptoms similar to suffering a ”kick in the head” and that older workers (35-39) fare much better under similar circumstances.

Have a look at this research and keep it in mind the next time your child tells you she can do her homework perfectly well with the television and computer on while chatting on the mobile and texting all at the same time.

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Technology’s Impact on the World of Business Communications

If there’s one thing that I’m acutely aware of, it’s the blurring of lines between work and home.  It used to be that the work week was well defined in both scope and culture. We had a very precise protocol for communicating in the office, using memos, telexes, and carefully structured and painstakingly dictated letters that started with “To whom it may concern” and ended with “Sincerely yours.”

Gone are the days of formal communications.  These days you’re very likely to e-mail a colleague from home at 10 p.m. on a weekend or end up in a spirited instant messaging discussion with someone while you’re on a conference call from your home office.  The world of work has stealthily crept deeply into the fabric of our lives.

Along with the ambiguity that comes from blurring the lines between work and home comes an additional challenge.  The communication tools that we use today (voice mail, e-mail, and instant messaging) have limitations that continually force us to try to adapt our behavior to the medium we use.  For example, the other day I fell victim to a misunderstanding that arose from the impersonal nature of instant messaging.  Anger flared and feelings were hurt simply because my messaging partner did not understand the emotional context of a series of messages.

We have a whole dictionary of emoticons that are supposed to salve the wounds wrought by the enigmatic electronic word, but aren’t we now in a technological position to eliminate the cause of the pain?

Sincerely yours,

Roger W. Farnsworth

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