Friday, December 22, 2006

Chat messengers reduce productivity at work

The world is divided into two types of people. One – the hardworking. Two – the hardly working. There is a third category too - people who have enjoyed privileged memberships with both the types. This blog, is about them.

My estimates from reliable sources reveal that the world’s productivity would increase by atleast 12% if Gmail Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger would be banned from office computers. They’re a great way of you sitting on your computer terminal, yet pretending to work. But actually you’re chatting and spending time over casual conversation, (aren't you?) mostly answering rhetorics like ‘Wassup’ and ‘Hows life?’. Questions like these would be better off asked in person face-to-face. You could have Karan Thapar for company and I’d just love to see your face shrivel into a nut as he would sneer at you from behind those glasses. Even for the above questions. [Let me put it to to you this way, Mr.Chaudhuri – You are dating someone. I have the facts with me. The Sunday Times paparazzi spotted you making out with…]

Let’s give Karan some rest for the moment and make-out (not the one you're thinking) how the Third Type of people are a nuisance in your office. While assigned work often goes for a toss, I’ve often seen colleagues having casual chat, pretending to take a break that lasts for hours. Surfing Orkut should be allowed only for specific hours in a day, when the ISP can unblock it. The social networking craze is good way to stay in touch, mind you. And nevertheless, an innovative way to make contacts too.

I believe, a Happy Surfing Hour segment offices would be a constructive idea. All censored sites could be unblocked and staff members can surf and chill-out during that time. It’s better to allow staff to communicate through voice-based conversations, rather than to chat using text. A chat online for one hour mite yield the same results as a phone call for 3 mins. Therefore, rather than keeping the mind engaged to window conversations, emoticons, smileys and short-hand, its appropriate to have a heart-to-heart, however personal on the phone. Remember, productivity is at stake, here!

More so, in media houses, where work largely depends on deadlines. And sticking to deadlines is the topmost priority, no matter what the excuses might be. I think, it is because of these chat windows, that media people end up working long hours at office. It sounds sensible to avoid casual chatting in office environs and finish up with assignments at the earliest.

Recently, a senior at office, logging in from abroad into Google Talk, was shocked to find his subordinate, 'Available' on the same messenger. That too, with the music on! (So much for status messages!) It was the same colleague to whom he had assigned major responsibilities (lucky him), but the fellow was consistently being humbled by the deadline. Productivity of course, got a beating. But what was affected even more was his reputation for avoiding work and chilling during office hours on chat windows.

The senior did not make a big issue out of it, though. He calmly handed over the guy’s responsibilities to me (lucky me) and avoided delegating any major work to him. Perhaps he did not realise this change or maybe perhaps he did. But for the moment though, he’s happy to work-chat-work-chat-chat during office hours.

Some people just don’t get the point, do they?