Workplace chat, or notification fatigue, usually happens in remote workers that are leaning on digital communication channels to communicate with their coworkers and clients daily.
Since communication via Slack and other communication tools most commonly happens in real-time, many workers feel compelled and forced to stop whatever they’re doing to respond to their coworkers’ and clients' inquiries.
This can be damaging to focus and productivity, lead to frustration since task completion takes longer, and burnout - since our minds are all over the place.
Types of Workplace Fatigue
“Zoom fatigue” became a well-known term in recent years. Since many workplaces chose to switch to remote work, they increased the amount of communication via other communication channels - mainly video calls and workplace chat software. Zoom, as the most used video conferencing tool, became the synonym for exhaustion we feel after a video call.
Zoom fatigue isn’t a hoax - it’s a reality for many workers around the globe. Simply, video meetings, if not managed properly, leave us drained and without energy, ultimately leading us to burnout.
And there’s a pretty logical reason why that happens. During video calls, we experience an overload of nonverbal cues and communication people don’t experience during normal communication.
Receiving too many emails, and a big chunk of it being irrelevant, lead to email fatigue. To prevent email fatigue, unsubscribe from unnecessary emails and stop unwanted spam emails. You can do this in various ways, from blocking unwanted emails to using spam filters.
Slack is a convenient chat tool for teams, but can also lead to burnout. Working in a fast-paced environment often means receiving messages and Slack notifications all day, which can interrupt your focus, overwhelm you, and ultimately lead to Slack fatigue.
Tips for Managing Slack Fatigue
To prevent this from happening to you, we decided to share a few tips on how to avoid workplace chat fatigue effortlessly.
Sometimes we feel tempted to engage in Slack conversations with little to nothing about the work. And even though non-work-related Slack channels are good for team bonding and increase employee engagement, they become damaging to productivity if they’re not used correctly.
If you feel like spending too much time discussing with your coworkers via Slack channels, you can mute them and return once you finish the most pressing tasks. Once you mute a channel, you won’t be able to see if someone replied or posted anything in the channel, and the chances of being lurked into a pointless conversation will be reduced to a minimum.
Make the most out of your Slack status
A good way to decrease notifications in Slack is to use the status bar as a note and a warning to your coworkers about your availability and working hours.
To ensure your focus and productivity levels throughout the workday, adjust your Slack status accordingly and let your coworkers know when you’re available for chat and when you’re too busy doing other things. Use the Slack status to set boundaries for communication and prevent being steered away from your work and focus.
Check Slack a few times a day
If neither of these tactics is helpful, you can always shut down Slack altogether. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. After all, you need it if your organization uses it to communicate. To keep your focus, it's important to prioritize and organize tasks, and Slack is not a priority at the moment. Glorifying grind culture and always being accessible leads to burnout. Practicing self-care and stress management techniques, and not using Slack during certain time intervals help reduce stress.
However, you can shut it down and schedule times to check messages throughout the day to ensure nothing is missed. That way, you’re less likely to be distracted and have a greater opportunity to finish the work on time.
The sound of notifications usually creates a sense of urgency to reply whenever a notification pops up on your screen. But do you ask yourself just how urgent a message is? Obviously, most messages we get aren’t urgent and can wait for us to complete our task before responding. However, we only want to check the message we get, breaking our concentration. To avoid this, you can shut notifications altogether or shut them down when you need something done fast. All you need to do is to go to Preferences, check the notification tab and click on “disable desktop notifications”.
Another thing you can do is to disable sound notifications in Settings by finding the option in “Sound and appearance”. Knowing how to find balance and when to take breaks and disconnect from technology is important. You can do this by sticking to a schedule and having a dedicated Slack time, but also disabling your notifications at certain points in time.
Put social channels on another device
Putting communication tools on another screen might help. To do it most efficiently, you can mute notifications and their sound and move Slack in your browser to another screen. This way, you can monitor all your communication efficiently and choose when you’re going to respond since you’ll have a better overview of which conversations need your immediate attention and which can wait. Another thing to try is downloading Slack on your phone and choosing not to have it on your laptop.
Impact of Digital Communication Tools Fatigue in the Workplace
Experiencing fatigue from using digital tools at work can lead to reduced productivity, plus it can lead to increased stress and burnout. Digital tools for communication are great assets for teams, but the fatigue that comes along with the use of such tools can have a negative impact on your mental health, and it's important to know how you can prevent it. Limiting the use of digital tools for communication will have a positive effect on your work-life balance.
Prevention and Importance of Managing Workplace Fatigue
Managing workplace fatigue starts with setting workplace communication boundaries. Certainly, instant messaging in business communication has its benefits, but it also has its disadvantages.
Also, make sure to make the most of synchronous and asynchronous communication at work. Becoming aware of communication channels and styles at work will help you communicate better and become more efficient at work.
Workplace chat fatigue is preventable
Getting used to remote work in a digital era is overwhelming at times. We need to learn how to navigate through using all these new office tools that have become widely spread over the past decade in the best possible way.
We need to stay connected with our coworkers, clients, and managers and know where to say "enough" when communication goes out of hand. With this being said, we hope our tips on managing Slack and avoiding workplace chat fatigue can help you stay on track and be at your best year-round!