Most Americans agree: That meeting could’ve been an email

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The coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed the way people work, forcing many to stay home and increase their reliance on technology to accomplish simple tasks.

 

But that increased use of technology has led to productivity concerns, according to a new study from Fusion Connect — an Atlanta-based integrated cloud solutions provider — that looks at how workers feel about their environments.

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Attempts to try to keep workers happy — as well as avoid impacts from the Great Resignation — can add a layer of complication to the mix, which can be especially harmful to small businesses.

Productivity problems for the work-from-home crowd

Almost a third of office workers say dealing with technology issues related to collaborating with others virtually has had a negative impact on their productivity.

 

It’s not surprising, though, especially when you consider how unprepared so many companies were for the demands of a pandemic. Zoom, for example, became a staple for many workers, but the company paid an $85 million settlement due to privacy issues (including meeting disruptions) at the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Fully remote (39%) and hybrid workers (38%) — who work at least partially from home — are significantly more likely to report a negative impact on productivity than those working fully on-site (23%). That could dent the bottom line of companies looking to stay remote as the pandemic continues, forcing smaller enterprises to take out business loans to keep up with the ever-changing landscape.

 

However, this doesn’t mean working from home is the worst option — in fact, it may be a necessity for some. For companies willing and able to go fully remote, it could cut down on costs associated with office-based work environments (like space rentals and on-site meals and snacks). And there are downsides to the other work arrangements, too.

So, about that meeting …

Think about how often you’ve entered a meeting and thought, “This could have been an email”? You aren’t the only one: Nearly three-quarters of office workers say most work meetings can easily be handled through a collaborative tool — or a simple email — instead.

 

So, even with the apparent productivity hit that collaborative tools can pose, they may still be preferable to meetings. That could point to a general shift in how people approach their work experiences — and what they’re willing to put up with as the pandemic continues.

 

Another interesting finding: 84% of workers use more than one communication channel for work, with 18% employing five or more. This could prove difficult for workers, forcing them to juggle multiple communication methods. It also echoes the overall difficulty companies have had in adjusting to the demands of the pandemic, an issue that still seems to be present.

 

And for those companies that chose to split the difference, letting workers do some remote and in-office work could be even more tumultuous. In fact, about a third of hybrid workers feel they work more hours than their non-hybrid peers.

This, combined with the hybrid worker productivity issue, could mean that employers may have to commit to either remote or in-office work to help employers avoid these compounded issues. Whether companies will do this, however, remains to be seen.

More from MediaFeed:

12 Boomer skills that are becoming obsolete

 

Our Gen Z kids and grandkids are digital natives. They can convey nuance in their text messages, effortlessly navigate wherever they want to go, and get a pizza delivered anywhere, anytime. But they’ve never learned some of the old-school, analog skills most of us were taught as we grew up. Does it matter?

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Does it matter? TIME Magazine says yes, claiming that cursive writing is harder to forge, activates different parts of the brain, and allows people to read historical documents in their original form. Other than signing your name, I’m not convinced. The only time my kids need to read cursive is when they get cards from their grandparents, and those can be “translated” easily.

 

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Does it matter? Probably not. When was the last time you needed to use a rotary phone? In any case, it’s something kids could learn in about a minute. Watching teens try to make a call with a rotary phone is entertaining, though. (For more phone-related fun, check out this 1954 Bell System video tutorial on how to switch from operator-assisted calls to dial calls.)

 

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Does it matter? According to Martha Stewart, yes, for practical and educational reasons. Sewing allows you to design, create, and mend clothing, and it can help build planning and math skills and hand-eye coordination. I still put my rudimentary sewing skills to use when I need to sew on a button or repair a small tear, but I leave the more complex projects to the experts.

 

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Does it matter? Maybe. PBS Kids says reading maps helps build spatial reasoning skills, and certainly understanding compass directions and the concept of the magnetic North Pole should be part of everyone’s education. It’s tough to compete with the technology behind Waze and Google Maps, though. A map or compass might come in handy when that technology isn’t available, as long as you can manage to find a map or compass.

 

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Does it matter? Most of the time, probably not. Sorry, stick-shift aficionados (and I count myself among them). Edmunds reports that only 1.2% of new cars sold in 2019 had manual transmissions, as of October. As much as some of us may love them, it looks like shifting for ourselves is on its way out.

 

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Does it matter? It depends. Family Handyman says you can change your own oil in about 20 minutes and save some money. I’m sure this project would take me a lot longer than 20 minutes, and I’m not convinced on the cost savings. You need to buy oil and a filter, own or borrow the right tools, and have access to a garage or driveway where you can work. You also need to take your used oil someplace to recycle it. It’s nice to know how to change your own oil, and rewarding to do things yourself, but for most of us, the time vs. money trade-off probably isn’t worth it.

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Does it matter? Yes, but being able to use this skill in real life is questionable. AAA reported in 2017 that 28% of new cars didn’t come with spare tires. About 14% of new cars come with run-flat tires; for the rest, manufacturers have often eliminated spares to improve fuel efficiency. If you don’t have a spare, you can’t change a tire. And even when you do have a spare, lug nuts are often so tight that many of us can’t loosen them to remove the flat tire.

 

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Does it matter? Nostalgic as we may be, it’s hard to make an argument for this one. The Smithsonian reported on the death of the card catalog in 2015.

RIP, Dewey Decimal.

 

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Does it matter? The skill matters; the system, not so much. To be sure, monitoring your accounts for accuracy and keeping your expenses below your income are cornerstones of personal finance. Logging in online to check your finances regularly works better than a paper-and-pencil system for just about all of us.

 

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Does it matter? The Weekmakes an argument for print dictionaries over their online counterparts and points to the serendipity factor — while looking up one word you’ll likely come across other words that are interesting.

It’s tougher to make that argument for a thesaurus, where you’re likely looking for an alternative to a word you already know.

And your options for analog encyclopedias are limited. The Encyclopedia Britannica’s 2010 version was its last in print, and the World Book is the only general encyclopedia still being printed today.

 

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Does it matter? Yes. It’s a good idea for all of us to memorize, or at least have analog access to, an emergency contact number at minimum. But with 10-digit phone numbers, multiple area code overlays, and phones serving individuals, not families, it’s not feasible for most of us to commit a lot of numbers to memory.

 

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Do you know where it goes? Does it matter? Um, yes. Everyone should know how to do this.

This article originally appeared on Considerable.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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