collaboration overload

Collaboration Overload Might Be Stifling Employee Productivity (and How to Alleviate Collaboration Fatigue)

Here at PGi, we center everything we do around collaboration. From products that facilitate collaboration to a company culture that seeks to embody the very essence of collaboration, collaboration is the driving motivation behind our decisions. But what happens when collaboration gets to be too much? Collaboration is essential and yet, it can sometimes feel like we are collaborating so much there’s no time left for work. Many in the business world have been talking about the dreaded collaboration overload but I prefer to call it collaboration fatigue, the process by which collaboration overwhelms your motivation and starts to get in the way of your work.

To quote Laura Huckabee-Jennings from Huffington Post, for many, “…’collaboration’ has become a buzzword that simply means ‘more meetings’ in many organizations.”

Indeed, there is nothing that kills my productivity more than a day peppered with meetings and characterized by constant brainstorming, decision-making and interfacing with others. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with collaborating and working with peers; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Collaboration makes our professional world go round.

But sometimes, the endless meetings and constant emails can fatigue your appreciation for collaboration. When you’re fatigued, you just don’t have as much energy to put towards accomplishing your goals. The key to avoiding collaboration overload is to collaborate productively. If collaboration fatigue is a pox upon your productivity, it’s time for a new collaboration strategy.

Here are a few ways to avoid collaborative overload and stop collaborative apathy in its tracks:

Focus on Organizational Simplicity


For every new product and project, key stakeholders must come together to plan and problem-solve.

Newton’s Third Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, PGi’s first law states that for every new business challenge, there is an equally challenging number of obligatory meetings and emails that must be attended to in order to tackle that challenge.

Complexity is the enemy of swift collaboration. Organizational simplicity, on the other hand, fosters collaborative growth and happy, productive employees.

Learn to Say “No”

When it comes to collaboration, learning to say “no” is a must for professionals looking to avoid collaborative burnout.

“The more willing the employee, the more they are asked to add to their plate. This used to be high-value for employers, but it’s leading to major dissatisfaction for employees long-term.

From our own data, too, we see that women are even more prone to be supporting and taking part in these cross-functional collaboration roles, while data shows men are less so. It’s fascinating and sobering to see the data here, and the trend of workers overextended and burning themselves out.” — Kris Duggan, CEO of enterprise goal-setting and collaboration software solutions company BetterWorks.

Saying “yes” to every request and project that comes your way can leave you over stimulated and under satisfied. Learn to know when you’ve got too much on your plate and how to avoid overextending yourself.

Eliminate Update Meetings


You know those meetings where you go around the table and everyone gives a rundown of what they’ve been working on? Yeah, stop having those. That’s what we have email for. If you need to actively collaborate, whether that occurs in the form of brainstorming, decision-making or providing feedback, schedule a meeting.

But if all you’re doing in a meeting is providing passive updates, you’re wasting time.

Send progress updates and address any ongoing challenges in an email before the meeting. Then once the meeting begins, you can immediately get down to the finer points of discussion.


Starting to feel an oncoming bout of collaboration fatigue? Pull back and avoid collaborating just for the sake of collaboration. Learn to set boundaries, set aside time for focused work and reduce the volume of unnecessary meetings and emails that plagues your workday.

Related Posts: 

A Changing View of Collaboration

The American Workhorse: How to Work Smarter Not Longer

The 5 Worst Things About Meetings


Images: Giphy (2)

About Chelsea Mize

Chelsea Mize is a writer and content creator with a weakness for the Oxford Comma. When she’s not writing, you will find Chelsea searching for new spots to brunch and binge watching TV shows she’s already seen.