Have you fallen into the habit of sending e-mails to communicate with your employees — even if they are just a few steps away from you? Perhaps it is time to rethink your reliance on technology to communicate with your team.
Although most people assume Millennials prefer texting and emailing over face-to-face communication, research has shown the opposite is true. In fact, many employees reportedly prefer interpersonal communication in the workplace over more tech savvy modes of communication. Why is that? Possibly because technology is prone to communication gaps, whereas nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and instantaneous feedback in a one-on-one or group meeting offers greater clarity and immediate responses to any issues or questions that arise.
Technology can have drawbacks in other areas, too. Research also has shown that humans are terrible multi-taskers. Whenever we try tackling multiple projects in one sitting, efficiency actually decreases compared with an approach that tackles projects one at a time. The reason is simple: our brains cannot handle the amount of information required to process many different assignments at the same time. We’re cognitively limited to maybe 2-3 mental tasks max and once we push that boundary, our productivity will suffer. What this means for you and your employees is that you should stop relying on technology so much because it tempts us to engage in multitasking (e.g., having several web browsers open at a time), which promotes inefficiency, despite popular (and mistaken) beliefs that we’re more productive this way.
If you’ve been in a college classroom lately, you might also have noticed most students on their computers, presumably taking notes. However, if students don’t perceive the lecture material to be valuable to their studies, then they might wander off to Facebook or other social media sites during class. Similarly, employees in meetings might be more prone to distractions if allowed to take notes from tablets or computers compared to the good old fashioned handwriting method.
Ultimately, a company culture built on primarily digital means of communication could lead to lower rates of employee satisfaction and greater inefficiency. Alternatively, reducing your team’s over-reliance on technology could build a more connected culture.