How many times have you heard the phrases “it’s all about multitasking” or “thank God for multitasking” around the office? Modern workers thrive on the ability to do more than one thing at a time, and it’s become quite the ‘selling point’ for some people. Employees are incredibly proud of this ‘skill’, even adding it to resumes and bios as a highlight. Let’s analyze the act of multitasking at work. Does it create a net positive on productivity, or does it stifle the ability to be creative and develop strategies that ultimately win in the corporate landscape?

We’ll have to be the ones to drag you back to earth, from multitasking land; multitasking is crushing your employee’s productivity and hurting your company in the process. According to Harvard, your efficiency drops as much as 40% when you start multi-tasking. The brain is simply not built to allow us to do two things at once, as much as we as humans might want too. Additionally, when we try to multitask, nothing is getting 100% of our attention, which means nothing is 100% on a quality scale. 

In today’s corporate world, multitasking is becoming a huge issue for productivity and focus. Think of some recent meetings you’ve been a part of. How many of your colleagues had their phones out or were on their laptops the whole time instead of focusing on the discussion at hand? And how many times did you have to repeat a comment or go back because someone missed something that was said? Mobile and technological devices are making multitasking a critical issue for today’s corporations. 

Meetings are an incredibly expensive use of people’s time (especially for executives) and when poor attempts at multitasking go bad, it can result in poor decision making. Bad decisions are made, then a group has to meet again to discuss the decision, which could result in a change but the damage is already done, simply because people were not paying attention the first time. 

If you’re wondering why it’s so hard to give up the devices, don’t worry – you’re probably addicted, and you’re not alone. Psychologists have found that humans as a whole are becoming increasingly addicted to texts, social media, and the internet thanks to a real physiological trigger, dopamine, that connects our devices to pleasure. 

So how can you proactively eliminate multitasking from your organization? Try banning smartphones and laptops from meetings altogether. If you’re like most corporate leaders, that last sentence might have made you fall out of your chair. A meeting without devices, how is that even possible? With the right technology in place behind the scenes, your team won’t have any need for a laptop or smartphone during a meeting. 

If you’re asking people to give up time in their busy schedules to attend a meeting, you need to get them in and out fast. It’s all about finding resources that can contribute to a device-free corporate discussion atmosphere. Think about fully consolidated AV equipment that delivers everything you’ll need for your meeting (conferencing, phone, display, etc.) in a single solution. Or, if you’ll have remote callers joining, set up a designated line in advance so nobody in the room needs to have their laptop on to connect. 

Multitasking can impact team productivity and efficiency, but it can also negatively influence team morale. Not paying attention during a meeting can be incredibly rude to other colleagues and can quickly designate certain employees with a negative reputation. If you’re implementing a new focus-first meeting strategy, make sure your executives are on board as well, since they’re often the worst culprits of multitasking in the first place. 

With the right technology, resources, and strategy in place, your team can proactively stop multitasking in its tracks and recapture team efficiency and productivity. Meetings will go faster, giving people time back in their days. You can establish a focused, respectful meeting atmosphere in your organization, simply by recognizing the farce that is multitasking.

Jonathan Welzel

Author Jonathan Welzel

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