Is Group Chat Killing your Flow?

Bruno Miranda

VP Engineering at Doximity



Have we slowly accepted a working culture of constant interruptions. I think so, and it's easy to understand why. The instant gratification of getting an answer to your question — immediately — is intoxicating. This, coupled with task-switching, and you have an unhealthy cocktail of "working hard all day" yet realizing nothing meaningful got accomplished. The expectation is that we must be instantly available, at all times, to respond to chat messages and it is killing productivity. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating abolishing group chat. I know it is an amazing tool for sharing resources and quickly hashing things out. My concern is that the tool causes too many interruptions.

Actions taken

We can certainly get this under control. I'd like to share three strategies I have been experimenting with:

  • Before shooting off a chat message, consider if you need the answer right now? Consider if you really need to ping the entire channel about this. Can you batch a few questions or discussion topics as part of an email or a call instead?
  • Can you get the answer you need from previous emails, the internal wiki, or the internet?
  • Cutback on the expectation and desire to have every question or comment addressed immediately. In case of a true emergency, sure ping the appropriate people — otherwise — ask and wait. Going from one person to the next every 5 seconds until you get an answer goes a long way to distract everyone, simultaneously.

Lessons learned

It is important to avoid the "ASAP" culture and have more chunks of uninterrupted focused time. This initiative will go a long way to foster creativity, focus, and enable us to feel fulfilled by the work we've accomplished at the end of each day. Source: https://blog.brunomiranda.com/instant-interruptions-681702c414a0

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Bruno Miranda

VP Engineering at Doximity

CommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture Development

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