The Multi-Billion Dollar Cost Of Communication Overload

28 October,2015
Office Workers at the Silicon Rus Headquarters. (Image by Konstantin Panphilov via Wikimedia Commons)

Office Workers at the Silicon Rus Headquarters. (Image by Konstantin Panphilov via Wikimedia Commons)


When it comes to collaboration, chat currently reigns king. Teams are constantly changing the way they communicate and collaborate internally— seemingly centered around a shared frustration towards the disconnect basic email creates. But are we losing productivity in in our quest to transition seamlessly from platform to platform, and cluttering our own internal inbox? The numbers say yes, and the cost is enormous.

It’s Monday. 8 AM. You’re en route to the office, and the push notifications start flowing in. Your team has begun a brainstorming session in the Slack chat. That 5 PM presentation deadline is lingering and you can begin to feel the heat turn up. Sometime over the weekend, you finalized this week’s report and notified the group. But oh wait, that was in Google Docs. Better let everyone know.

10:30 rolls around. Call With The Team. That new sales rep joins in and wants a copy of the report to boast numbers to a client. To expedite the process, you conclude it’s best to just shoot her an email; and why not cc the rest of the team so everyone can have a look? But then Admin Joe starts sending around a revision, and receives no response. Concerned it wasn’t received, he pings the team in Slack to let everyone know of his revision. Two team members download the latest version on Google Docs and start adding new material. They just got feedback from that sales rep who decided to join your morning call, and have updated the numbers to reflect. But the rest of your team has just opened your previous email and is using a now outdated update. You step in, amidst the chaos, and do your best to piece it all together into a final update.

You follow? Exactly.

Our drive to seek out the most efficient tools to boost enterprise productivity might be our own Achilles Heel. We find a product that solves a current void in our workplace communication, but then add on another platform to solve a completely separate issue. Ultimately, we wind up navigating through a maze of email chains, chat logs, share docs and text messages praying everything turns out alright.

The Overload is Costly

When studying team collaboration, it’s important to take into account the impact on individual workers. The average office worker is interrupted by a message every two-three minutes. Furthermore, in a recent UC Irvine study spearheaded by Dr. Gloria Mark, it was discovered that office workers can take upwards of 23 minutes to return to their original task once interrupted by a message!

$1.5 Trillion

Lost annually to communication overload.

If the loss of time isn’t enough, these distractions are costing enterprises big bucks. Annually, American-based companies are losing $1.5 Trillion to communication overload. That’s a lot of lost cash.

One reactive solution to this problem has been moving communication to chat. Chat is cheap, and easily adoptable by team members. However, it is no silver bullet. Chat operates under the assumption that all communicating parties are present at the same time during a conversation. But it actually becomes more problematic than productive when parties are not all active at once. Further complicating this problem is the fact that chat inherently has a larger message volume. Larger message volume makes follow up difficult, disconnected, and most critical, time consuming. This is why we end up spending so much time distracted by communication, and our seemingly quick tasks become so elongated.

So where do we relocate to solve THIS problem? Email. With a structure inherent to follow-up, email gives us the security that information is relatively easy to find, and messages are able to be articulated. Finding the proper balance between email and chat can create the most optimal communication balance.

But how can we reach Communication Zen?

Both email and chat have become highly balkanized, which is why we end up operating on numerous communication platforms. Being able to refer back to information is really key to finding the proper balance in our communication ecosystem. TMail is trying to streamline this by incorporating tracking numbers unique to each message. This way, messages can easily be referred back to in chats, emails, text messages, phone conversations, and more. Tracking Numbers are designed to eliminate the anxiety that information can be lost in an endless stream of correspondence. This way, if a distraction occurs an individual or group of users can relay the lost information to the seeking party— saving time and money.

We don’t have to waste billions on distractions caused by communication overload. There are logical solutions to streamline our workplace communication. Both email and chat serve a valuable purpose to our collaborative and communicative work ecosystem. We just need a bridge to connect these synchronous and asynchronous worlds.

To learn more about how TMail can work with chat, check out our previous post, Tracked Mail and Chat: A Match Made in Heaven.

You can get started on TMail today for free! Click here.

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