These days, it can seem impossible to have a system that lets employees know where the data, files, email messages, PDFs, web links, and other resources that they need are, in order to complete projects.
Some of these resources are cloud-based, so everyone on the team must use the same communications software - Slack, Teams, etc. Then you need to coordinate between various applications, from the Microsoft suite down to presentation systems, accounting applications, scheduling programs, ERP, CRM, etc. There's usually enough going on in any project to give the people working on it “platform fatigue.”
In order to get work done, accurately and punctually, you need to divide your time and attention between different windows, screens, data sources, files, alerts, monitors, programs, etc. There are just too many places to go and too many windows to check, a situation that practically guarantees you are going to miss something.
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Figuring out which tools to use for which purpose is also a problem. There is overlapping functionality between many of these tools; for example, individuals and groups can communicate via email, Teams, Yammer, Planner, and others… and that is just in the Microsoft suite! There are similar quandaries when it comes to project management – Planner, MS Project, Trello, Asana, etc., to say nothing of the project management capabilities inherent in email, SharePoint, OneNote, etc. For many, it's all just too much; hence platform fatigue.
Who isn't fatigued these days? Platform fatigue costs both companies and employees money, time, motivation, and productivity. Companies just starting out have an opportunity to build a system that will ensure that data does not get lost in the shuffle, thus protecting themselves from platform fatigue. And while veteran companies may find it difficult to unwind everything that has been done in the past, they should consider developing a plan that will make it easier for employees to find what they need.
Here are just some of the ways platform fatigues hurts employees and their employers:
Window mania: With each platform or application having its own interface - across desktop, web, and mobile - employees often find themselves switching back and forth between a dozen different windows, whether in a browser, or in an app that has its own interface. According to research from RingCentral, employees are losing 32 work days a year just switching between windows.
Security concerns: Proper procedure requires logging in and out of applications (both desktop and mobile) as needed. But due to the need to be connected to so many platforms, many employees just leave their windows open, providing an opportunity for snoops to get a look at information that is supposed to be restricted.
Lack of focus: Dings, rings, flashes, bells: these are the calling cards of the many communication channels we use, each demanding attention. To concentrate on listening and responding to them is a classic example of multitasking except. According to researchers, humans can't really multitask. If you're paying attention to the pings, you're not paying attention to your work and vice-versa. Thus instead of making us more efficient, all these platforms are making us less efficient, less attentive, less secure, and are costing businesses at least 13% in lost productivity a year (based on a 240-day annual work year).
Combating platform fatigue
One would expect companies to react to something that was essentially stealing 13% of their money a year. Yet we see little effort by companies to combat platform fatigue. That's why taking action to avoid the problem is essential. How? Like with any other business issue, it's a matter of planning and setting up an infrastructure that will make sticking to the plan the default choice. Filters can help; IT should be setting up filters on the incoming email server that will direct messages to specific folders for each client, or even for specific projects.
Businesses new and established must address this issue, not as a “nicety,” but as a priority. They may need to employ more aggressive methods of sorting out their data; artificial intelligence, where data patterns can be discovered and presented in different ways, holds promise. It sounds like an organized approach to the problem of diffused data and platform fatigue would be a no-brainer – but anyone with a brain will realize that something needs to be done to prevent it.
Yaacov Cohen, CEO of harmon.ie
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