Email: Collaboration is a buzzword, too much emphasis. (Ireland)

Collaboration overload. Surprisingly, collaborative work — time spent on emails, IM, phone & video calls has risen 50% or more to consume 85% of our work week. Covid-19 is a major catalyst. These invisible demands are hurting our efforts to become more agile & innovative. Lead to burnout, decline in physical & mental well-being. Impact productivity & creativity.

The quantity of collaborative demand comes at a high cost. An always-on culture is detrimental to success. Cognitive psychologists show that simply responding to a text imposes a 64-second recovery time. People who’re frequently interrupted experience higher workloads, more stress, more time pressures, drained energy.

We can schedule reflective time based on optimal personal rhythms, like answering emails 1st thing in the morning, then having a block of time for actual work. Doing creative work early & replying to emails in blocks of 30-minutes each during the day. Email begets email. A quick response is disruptive.

We can have weekly team touch-points to discuss one-off topics. Teams can post issues on collaboration platforms, encouraged to solve what they can ahead of meetings. When we talk about collaboration overload, inevitably blame out-of-control emails, back-to-back meetings, demanding clients, unreasonable bosses. But, it feels good, like we matter & are in the thick of things, right up until it doesn’t. It’s important to articulate why sharing is important? Efficient collaborators know when they’ll collaborate. Do they have a unique value to add?

A new way of working beckons.


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