They say solid communication is often the key to success in the workplace, and to this end, companies are implementing internal chat apps to help employees communicate more easily. In some ways, that's a very good thing, especially in situations where a company has a large number of remote workers on staff, or has employees spread out across a bunch of different offices.

But that ease of communication can come at a cost, especially when it comes to workplace distractions. In a recent survey by online workplace tool provider Nulab, in-person conversations rank highest among employees as the greatest source of distraction on the job. Phone calls interrupting the workday rank second. But close behind, in third place, are chat platforms.

Man sitting at laptop holding his head with annoyed expression.


When we dig into employees' chat app habits, that's not surprising. Those surveyed admit to spending an average of 40 minutes a day engaged in non-work-related conversations while on the job. And 25% of employees say they spend more than an hour on such discussions during the workday.

The most common talked-about topic in this category? Lunch.

Not only do 29% of workers feel that chat apps hurt their productivity, but 34% say they'd get more work done if they were to uninstall their current app. And 84% of employees believe that workplace chat apps increase the prevalence of office gossip -- something that can be harmful no matter what form it takes.

If the perpetual dinging of chat app notifications is derailing your workday on the regular, it's time to put an end to that cycle. Otherwise, you're not only apt to fall behind, but may also wind up stressed and miserable over it.

Avoiding chat app distractions

Chat apps are kind of like email in that people who use them frequently often expect a quick response. But if you're tired of being thrown off your game by internal messages popping up on your screen, then you'll need to reset that expectation.

For starters, be sure to set yourself to "away" when you're working on tasks that require deep concentration. Your colleagues will be less likely to ping you if they think you're unavailable. Of course, this tactic works better if you do your job remotely. If your colleague a few rows over sees you at your desk, he or she may just message you anyway, knowing that you're available in theory. But your more courteous co-workers will perhaps hold off on demanding your attention if you've marked yourself as not being available.

Additionally, don't be afraid to snooze notifications. A good 61% of employees say they do this to avoid distractions when they need to buckle down. Not only that, but 18% have gone so far as to block a co-worker on a chat app platform. If you have one pesky colleague who can't seem to take the hint, that may be an option to consider, albeit carefully, since you don't want to offend someone you work with and deal with the awkward aftermath.

Finally, try designating preset times during your workday to spend chatting with colleagues, but stay off that app the rest of the day. If your colleagues start to sense a pattern, they'll be less likely to bug you.

Though chat apps do add value in many workplaces, they can also be a detriment. If too much chatting is impacting your productivity, don't be shy about setting boundaries, especially since your performance depends on it.