Multitasking at work is a phrase used in the computer sector to describe the process of performing multiple tasks at the same time. Multitasking at work entails multitasking at the office. But, if we want to save time at work, don’t we risk performing a poor job and jeopardizing our health and well-being? Three questions concerning multitasking: definition, hazards, and concerns.
What is multitasking at work?
Let’s break down the meaning of this Anglicism to better understand the term of multitasking at work. The prefix “multi” isn’t expected to cause you any issues. The word “task” in English simply means “task,” and the “ing” ending conjures up images of action. As a result, it literally implies multitasking. In French, we have a word for it: multitâche. We can claim we are multitasking in our personal lives when we are preparing a meal while also doing the laundry and the children’s homework, for example. However, we’re discussing how to use this principle in the workplace. That’s when multitasking turns into multitasking at work. On the surface, being able to perform multiple jobs at once appears to be a good thing. Except for one thing…
What are the risks of multitasking?
Employees in the workplace occasionally engage in a race or competition. You must project dynamism and initiative… For some, being busy is a sign of seriousness. In this state of mind, one does not hesitate to multitasking at work: for example, documenting during a phone call or answering emails during a meeting. You should be aware, however, that the human brain is not meant to multitask. To put it another way, if you think you’re multitasking at work, it’s only a trick of the eye. Yes, you did send an email during a meeting, but are you confident that you comprehended what the speaker was saying? Is your email a perfect match for the request? Are you certain you didn’t make any spelling errors? Is it true that you saved time?
Let’s be clear: multitasking at work threatens the quality of work. While you are reading and responding to the email you receive, you can hear the speakers, but by interrupting your concentration, you are not recording what they are saying. Studies therefore warn employees and their managers about the risks of multitasking at work, which also does not show that it saves time. Switching from one activity to another is, seemingly, quite time-consuming when repeated several times a day.
According to research conducted by the University of London, this approach is not only ineffective, but also dangerous to our health. Did you aware that smoking marijuana or sleeping through the night reduces your IQ? Multitasking at work, on the other hand, results in similar losses.
Less neat work, altered concentration, loss of time, decrease of intellectual capacities… the picture of multitasking at work is not brilliant, but it does not stop there since multitasking would also impact one’s well-being at work. Moreover, it is no coincidence that open space companies that care about the well-being of their employees offer more and more bubbles and small soundproof rooms. These allow employees who express the need to isolate themselves to better concentrate on a task. However trendy it may be, multitasking at work actually seems unsuitable for the modern working world.
Should we give up multitasking?
Multitasking at work is clearly not a managerial solution that should be developed within firms, based on the picture we’ve just portrayed. Does this imply that we should completely disregard it? At work, multitasking is only possible if one of the two activities does not require special attention. Let’s return to our previous scenario. You should try to disengage during a meeting if you want to keep entirely focused on the talks going on, or even intervene if necessary.
However, some meetings are, for one reason or another, completely uninteresting. You may be asked to answer questions after a presentation, but if you know every detail of the presentation, reading and answering emails during the presentation is not a problem.
As a result, you must adapt your behavior to the situation and accept the fact that we were not designed to manage multiple activities at once. Multitasking at work should also not be viewed as a work strategy, but rather as a tool to respond quickly to challenges at work. A well-organized schedule can frequently help you better handle the various daily missions of the day. For example, at the end of the morning and the end of the day, you can set aside a few minutes to deal with emails and other requests from your employees. In the end, it is your professional well-being that is at stake.