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You’re in your office. A call comes in. You answer and search through your inbox for a document germane to the conversation while three new emails arrive and distract you from the task. Your cell phone buzzes from a text message while a team messaging app bubbles up on your desktop with new messages. You can’t find the document in email and move your search to your desktop and cloud storage applications while trying to listen to the caller and focus hard on ignoring the multiple messages all competing simultaneously for your attention. Sound familiar?

The promise of the digital workplace is to make work easier and more productive. But as we found in a recent global survey of over 2,000 knowledge workers across the US, UK, and Australia, chaos in the workplace is more often the norm.

App overload is creating chaos

Let’s start with the cold, hard facts: Workers today are using an average of four communications apps (from phone calls, texts, web meetings, video conferencing, team messaging, and more), with 20% of workers using six or more. But rather than speeding up productivity, 69% of workers waste up to an hour each day navigating between their communications apps, amounting to a waste of 32 days per year per worker, and costing businesses billions in lost productivity!

  • More than 70% of workers say their communications volume is a challenge to getting work done.
  • Sixty-eight percent of workers toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour, and 31% of workers said toggling causes them to lose their train of thought.
  • Workers find navigating between apps more annoying than doing household chores (53%), paying bills (52%), and trying to lose weight (50%).

The growing divide

The survey also found that team messaging–centric platforms are growing quickly in popularity as the preferred “home base” for a single communications platform. Although workers 45+ years old still prefer email (51%), the population of rising professionals, 18- to 44-year-olds, prefer team messaging (43%).

The divide is even more pronounced when it comes to the C-Suite. Although 80% of C-level executives are more likely to find their communications volume very or somewhat challenging, they are more likely to be content with their current suite of tools (44%), revealing a disconnect with the cultural shift away from email to newer communications capabilities such as team messaging.

One platform is the way to #WorkZen

The report offered a clear solution to workplace chaos and a path forward to a better way to work. Employees believe a unified platform integrating all their communications channels would bring more simplicity to their workday.

Specifically, the data shows that workers  believe this would help them achieve better workflow (67%), be more productive at work (65%), make work feel less chaotic (62%), and make it easier to work remotely (61%).

The digital workplace of the future will no doubt continue to be shaped by the rapid pace of innovation and new collaborative communications solutions. The key to success is staying above water on app overload with a single communications platform approach. This holds the promise of workplace Zen where focus and productivity reign supreme.

Read the full report: From Workplace Chaos to Zen: How App Overload Is Reshaping the Digital WorkplacePress release can be found here.

What could you accomplish with an extra 32 days of productivity every year? Join the #WorkZen conversation on Twitter.

Originally published Mar 05, 2018, updated Dec 30, 2022

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