Trouble tracking your schedule? There’s an app for that. Need to keep all project stakeholders on the same page? There’s an app for that. Too many email addresses? There’s an app for that. Communicating through too many different messenger programs? You guessed it — there’s an app for that too.

Add in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and other standard office software, and the average worker gets pretty tired of clicking between windows.

In fact, 69 percent of workers waste up to 60 minutes a day just navigating between the apps they use for work, according to new research from unified communications software provider RingCentral. While meant to streamline workflows, apps can easily create more stress than they ease.

According to RingCentral, 68 percent of workers toggle between apps up to 10 times per hour. It’s gotten so bad that 50 percent of workers would rather try to lose weight than navigate between all their apps any longer.

“This toggling — and feeling of being overwhelmed — wastes time and energy each day — 32 days a year, to be exact,” says Neha Mirchandani, vice president of corporate marketing for RingCentral. “It’s an infuriating occurrence that’s disrupting the entire workflow, with 31 percent of workers reporting that they’re constantly losing their train of thought.”

The Inconvenience of Convenience

Communication apps have mostly been a boon for business, giving back to workers time that used to be spent on phone calls or in meetings. However, the sheer number of available solutions has become difficult to manage. Half of the employees surveyed by RingCentral use four or more apps on a regular basis in the workplace.

“While [the apps] do provide some efficiency through increased connectivity, they also add chaos to workflows and upend productivity — directly undermining a business’s bottom line,”  says Mirchandani. “Factoring in all the wasted hours, app overload costs employers hundreds of billions of dollars annually.”

In the age of flexible and remote work, going back to basics isn’t an option for most businesses. Even if workers could take the time to run down the hall, there might not be anybody there to talk to. Employees need to be able to connect with each other from anywhere. The solution is not the elimination of apps, but consolidation.

RingCentral found that 66 percent of employees want a single platform for all their communications. Sixty-seven percent of employees said such a platform would help them achieve better workflows, and 65 percent said it would help them be more productive at work.

Communication From the Bottom Up

Executives who came to prominence when technology was less prevalent in the workplace may resist the implementation of communications solutions into their workflows. RingCentral’s report found 80 percent of executives see their communication volumes as very or somewhat challenging, yet these same executives often don’t want to deal with team messaging apps.

To convince superiors of the benefits of communication software solutions, Mirchandani recommends workers use a language executives understand: data and numbers. Hitting these points may convince resistant executives and upper-level managers to get on board with team solutions:

  1. Money: App overload costs employers hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
  2. Efficiency: “Remind executives that by enabling employees to work the way they want via their preferred modes, they’ll see smoother workflows and, ultimately, more productive employees,” Mirchandani says.
  3. Disruption: RingCentral’s research shows team messaging solutions are ranked as the least disruptive form of communications at work, whereas email is most disruptive.
  4. Options: Mirchandani recommends bringing a few solutions to the table so that executives can peruse the options and find one that seems right for the organization.

“At first, any major change in communications platforms can seem daunting, [but] once the C-suite sees the ease, benefits, and increased productivity for themselves, they won’t look back,” Mirchandani says.

App Overload in the Gig Economy

While it may seem daunting, getting all standard workers onboard with a single solution is completely doable. Freelancers and contract workers, however, may be stuck with a wide array of solutions based on what their clients use. It may be worth it for non-traditional workers themselves to seek out consolidation solutions for their communication platforms to streamline their own workflows.

However, it’s also important for businesses to listen to their contractors about what impacts their efficiency.

“App overload for gig workers is a serious problem that many of us have experienced directly,” says Mirchandani. “Most in the gig economy must juggle many apps to get their jobs done, and they’re often at the whim of their clients. We recommend developing a workflow that easily integrates with other systems. You can’t always control what your clients use, but you can control how you manage [your clients' platforms]. Also, let clients know the best way for you to stay in touch to optimize productivity and deliver value. You’ll be surprised how flexible some clients can be to maximize their investment in a freelancer.”

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