Collaborative Overload in the Age of COVID (i4cp login required)


Microsoft’s Outlook keeps sending me a weekly email titled
“MyAnalytics.” You may get them,
too. MyAnalytics is part of the Office
365 cloud-based suite and it’s a plug-in to help gain insight into how you
spend your time. It tracks data such as
time spent in meetings, Outlook emails, productivity, and time spent working
late. I’ve been getting this email every
week for the last several months.

I hate this email.

I hate it because MyAnalytics tells me things that I intuitively
already know, just not down to the precise, excruciating detail. Such as the fact that I had 79% collaboration
time and 21% time “available to focus.” That I had 147 collaborators and added
38 new people to my network.  It even
tells me who I collaborated with the most, the total time I spent with that
person, the percentage of emails I opened from my top collaborators, and my
average response time. And then, the
very last thing it tells me, under the heading “Wellbeing,” is how many “quiet
days” I’ve had…days protected from distractions during my quiet hours.

Mine has never said anything but zero. Yeah, I could’ve told you that one pretty

I’m like most of you—I suffer from collaborative
overload. And since this coronavirus
pandemic banished many of us to work from home it’s only become worse. Much, much worse.

Like many of you, Microsoft really only knows some of my
predicament. There are many ways to
reach me directly. Outlook, Gmail, SMS,
WhatsApp, WeChat, Zoom, Teams, Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram…I get messages
via each regularly. Oh wait, and I
forgot the phone. Yeah, sometimes people
still call me.

Collaborative Overload is not a new term. My business colleague and friend Rob Cross
wrote an article about
—along with Adam Grant and Reb Rebele—in HBR exactly 4 years
ago. The basic premise is that many of
us are suffering from an increase in collaboration, and it’s not good for you,
your co-workers, or your organization.
The article, and a great deal of research which followed, shows that—through
a few different techniques and understanding of where overload is happening—you
can also control it. You are your own
worst enemy (but so is your manager – can’t let them get away without blame).

We study this and many aspects of collaboration and, given
today’s new reality and impact on collaboration, we’re doing more research on
this now. In fact, we’d like to study
how this has affected you since you’ve taken the time to read this far.

If you take this survey
by EOD Friday, April 24
, we’ll send you the results of what everyone else
is saying about collaboration. It’ll
only take 5 minutes because, let’s face it, you don’t have time for much more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your views. We really appreciate it. Just don’t email or message me when you’ve completed

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