Despite our determined efforts to stay focused and productive throughout the workday, we often find ourselves distracted by the tools intended to make the workplace operate more efficiently. Spontaneous phone calls, emails and instant messages interrupt our train of thought countless times each day, ultimately affecting the quality of our work.
Researchers at George Mason University homed in on the negative impact Gchat specifically has on workplace productivity in their latest study. Doctoral student Cyrus Foroughi joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani today, along with New Republic writer Alice Robb, to discuss the findings of the study and their implications for workers who rely heavily on instant messaging communication tools like Gchat.
"All we did was bring a large group of students in and had them write three essays, either while they weren’t interrupted, while they were interrupted, and then we had independent graders score them later," explained Foroughi. "Pretty much everybody got worse when they were interrupted compared to when they were not interrupted."
Robb's personal experience with Gchat in the workplace corroborated the study's results.
"I definitely feel like I have to be on Gchat pretty much all day for work," she said. "I work in Washington and my editor actually works in New York, so Gchat is the main way we communicate throughout the day ... But then I can't control if a personal Gchat comes in at the same time, and then I'll be tempted to respond to that."
Foroughi explains that while Gchat has its merits, it's often just one more interruption that can be added to the laundry list of workplace distractions.
"It could theoretically increase your productivity, especially if someone tells you some important information, so there are situations where Gchat could obviously be positive," he said. "But in terms of interruption research, if you're working on something and then a message pops up, your attention is going to be redirected to that message and your train of thought is going to shift ... Gchat is just an example of a million different types of interruptions that could affect you."
To hear more about how Gchat could be hurting your workplace productivity, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.