Slacking or Slacking Off?

Instant messaging has wormed its way into pretty much every aspect of life.

Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger mean we are always available and it’s often possible to track when a person was last online or if they read a message.

But how has instant messaging impacted the workplace?

Slack and other workplace messaging services aim to boost productivity. They reduce the amount of internal email traffic, allow remote teams to be in real-time contact, and give a space for conversations that connect employees who previously might not have interacted.

While the ability to quickly communicate and collaborate is invaluable, there’s also the opportunity for distraction.

33% of workers who responded to a survey on digital workplace etiquette said they were “distracted by their company chat messenger during the workday.” More than 20% admitted to using it for gossiping, complaining about the company, a coworker or boss.

Checking Slack every time a message comes through breaks your workflow and concentration. It’s hard to ignore notifications begging for attention or the thought of missing something relevant to you, only to be drawn into a chat isn’t work-related.

There are some things you can do to keep Slack a tool for productivity.

Tips to avoid distraction:

  • Mute your notifications: it’s a good way to combat the itch that comes when a notification is flashing in the taskbar.
  • Leave channels that are not relevant to you: if a big chunk of messages are coming from a channel that doesn’t concern you (anymore), leave the channel.
  • Close the program: for some people, even with muted notifications, the urge to check is just too tempting! Go ahead and close the program, then you’ll appear offline and your colleagues will know you’re not available.
  • Switch off push notifications on your mobile device: Slack is available on every popular OS, chances are you have it on your smartphone. Turn off push notifications, forever! Not only are they distracting, but they’re damaging to your work-life balance. Just because you can be ‘always available,’ doesn’t mean you should be.

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