All month long we’re exploring the idea of the strategic benefits of being unproductive. In other words, those midday online shopping breaks, social media jaunts or water cooler conversations can actually have tangible benefits to you and your team in the form of reduced stress, better team dynamics and improved overall productivity.
Idle Chatter? Doesn’t Matter
In an article that originally appeared on the Central Desktop blog, author Jessica Stillman writes at length about the teambuilding and company culture benefits of seemingly unproductive behavior. While tools like IM and team collaboration can potentially be used for “goofing off,” these behaviors can actually have a benefit. According to Stillman:
In short, idle office chat gets a bad rap. Swapping funny GIFs and weekend plans may account for a small percentage of traffic on social business tools, but these activities actually do something other than waste time. They boost productivity, bond teams and raise ambient awareness.
In other words? Managers that fret over potential productivity loss due to silly cat pictures showing up in an email chain may do well to look the other way, especially during the stress-filled holiday season.
The Benefits of Cute Pictures
Speaking of cat pictures, did you know that sharing silly or adorable photos or memes may actually have your team working harder? There are actually scientifically proven benefits to ooh-ing and aah-ing over a coworker’s newborn or furry friend while on the clock.
The simplest way that tech-enabled sociability raises productivity is by de-stressing those that engage in a moderate amount of it. For instance, The Washington Post reports that a team of Japanese researchers recently found “that those who saw the baby animal pictures did more productive work after seeing those photographs.”
You shouldn’t shy away from using your child as your profile picture or sneaking a family photo into your next slide deck. You’re just helping everyone’s productivity!
Bringing Your Organization Closer Together
Finally, team collaboration tools are fantastic methods of helping larger organizations “feel” smaller, building tight-knit, collaborative cultures usually reserved for smaller companies. And in fact, modern tools designed with collaboration in mind do a much better job of bridging these gaps than traditional communication methods, says Stillman:
Less social, more traditional communication styles may be more cat-proof, but they’re also often inadequate to our fast-moving world, as Salesforce executive John Wookey has explained. Older models where “nobody in one big division knows what the heck anybody in another division is doing… have become increasingly stressed as companies get bigger, as they get more global and as the market moves faster,” he has said.
While you may have originally purchased and deployed a collaboration tool to get more work done, the morale and productivity benefits that come along with the social nature of these tools are definitely an added bonus that is not to be overlooked!
Click here to read Jessica’s article in its entirety!