If you’re like most people, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your office group chat.
On the one hand, it makes co-workers more accessible, it keeps all your project info together, and it’s a fun place to share a little office gossip.
On the other hand, the constant stream of notifications sucks!
Like social media and email, office chat can be a real productivity killer. The difference being that your boss often expects you to be logged in all the time. This can be especially annoying when chat rooms devolve into raucous social clubs, or places to air petty grievances.
But remember: these apps are just another tool to help you get your work done. If your chat situation has spiraled out of control, don’t give up!
It’s time to push back and reclaim your peace of mind. (And your productivity!)
- Set Up Notification and Tagging Policies
In the rush to embrace the office chat trend, many workplaces set up new platforms without much thought to policies or procedures. In many cases, a department or a team might take the initiative to set up their own chat space without consulting the rest of the organization.
While sometimes this is necessary to get things done quickly, it can also result in a confusing free-for-all.
If you find yourself added to unnecessary groups or tagged in irrelevant conversations, talk to your teammates about setting up some guidelines. They could be as simple as only tagging people related to a specific task, or making sure people only create new chat groups when absolutely necessary.
- Make Yourself Available—But Not Too Available!
Collaboration is good, and having online tools to facilitate collaboration is excellent. But, unfortunately, not everything that happens in a chat room can be considered collaboration.
Collaboration does not mean answering every message within 30 seconds. It does not mean having to field queries unrelated to your job. And it definitely does not mean becoming the office agony aunt.
Chat rooms can give the illusion of intimacy and privacy, emboldening people to ask for favors they never would face to face. It’s common sense that you need to set up healthy boundaries at work, but the convenience and availability that chat rooms offer make this even more vital.
- Use Office Chat to Avoid Meetings
We all know that feeling of dread when we check our calendar and see back-to-back meetings from 9am to 6pm. Good luck getting any actual work done.
But hang on, isn’t that the reason we have office chat? If everyone in your team is online, why not just schedule a 15 minute session to burn through the issues. It beats sitting around in the boardroom hearing about someone’s weekend. For once, office chat could actually save you an hour or two!
- Curate Your Apps to Work for You
With so many excellent collaboration tools on the market, it’s easy for teams to become bloated with apps. This is also a problem for freelancers and contractors, who may need to use multiple platforms for different clients.
The result can be an unwieldy stream of notifications, duplicate emails, and unnecessary messages that ultimately makes it harder to get things done.
Doing a quick analysis to match your team’s needs with each platform’s features might reveal redundant platforms. If you’re a freelancer, you might find that popular apps like Slack and Hipchat allow integration so you can keep everything in one place.
Another problem with group chat is its tendency to create “silos” of information. Try moving important documents and messages into a centralized space to ensure everyone has access.
- Do Not Disturb Is Your Friend
Finally, if all else fails, there’s always the “do not disturb” button. Some people will still ignore the red light next to your username, so make it clear that you’re logging off to get some work done. If people are likely to take issue with this, clear some space in your calendar, and let your team know you’ll be free between certain hours to chat and answer any questions.
Carving out some space in your workday to get things done has never been tougher, but it’s not impossible. While there’s no escaping group chat, by laying down a few ground rules, you can make sure that it works for you and not against you.