Real Time Communications Featured Article

Strategies for Staying Sane in an Always-on, RTC World

July 28, 2015

Always being connected is taking a gradual toll upon our personal and business lives.  Individuals are becoming too wrapped up in being “always available,” with chat, IM, and email diverting from family time and mental recharge time so it is becoming increasingly more important to find ways to remain sane.  Advertisers and social groups are starting to feature “time outs” away from cell phones and electronic communications as a necessary step to regaining touch with our loved ones and remaining effective   at the workplace.

In many ways, the costs of an always-on world are of the technology industry’s own making. Apple and Android manufacturers along with service providers went full bore providing mobile solutions to provide people with the ability to look up anything, anywhere as a means to a profitable end.  Assessing the social and psychological impacts of such devices as they have become embedded into our lives has been more of an afterthought in picking up the pieces rather than a structured analysis.

Texting started the creation of a society that expects instant answers.  If you ignore a text or don’t near immediately respond to various social media, you’re behind the times.  People used to be able to wait for answers within a day or so, but now if we don’t get a customer service problem solved right away via email or a phone call, go on to Twitter and get out the flame thrower to get some additional urgency to get your problem solved.

 Speaking of flame throwers, we also make comments in electronic mail, IM, and chat sessions that we would think twice about or never, ever say in face-to-face dialogue.  Amplifying matters, people are quicker to hit the “send” button and take offence at what was sent in the heat of the moment far faster.  Misinterpretation of what is being said without audio and visual cues is far too easy, resulting in disagreements and hurt feelings far faster than what you’d see out of most meetings or family gatherings.


Removing face-to-face contact out of daily communications has left us at home and work as less civil to one another. Combine that with the underlying daily stress of being always-on/always-available and having real time communications activities impinging upon our creative and mental recharging time.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Employees, managers, and businesses may think they’re getting more productivity out of an always connected individual, but at what cost? People spending time digging through email or responding to IMs may be able to solve problems more effectively, but some issues are better resolved through real time conferencing or even (gasp!) a face-to-face meeting.  Believe it or not, sometimes just getting everyone into a room to discuss issues can result in quicker resolution of issues than IM and email ping-pong discussions.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but real time communications is going to force managers to re-examine communications policies, with human resources taking a lead role in educating everyone on the best strategies to stay connected - but not become oversaturated while off the company clock. Things like  how to best manage time during the course of the work day and using RTC for healthy communications.  The call center is  also going to be more RTC immersed than back office functions such as marketing and accounting, as businesses try to find the best balance of keeping employees available within and outside the work boundary.  

Downtime for employees outside the workplace may be enforced by computer rule-sets and AIs in the future, because psychologists say everyone needs time to be able to mentally relax and process information subconsciously without other distractions.  

All of this is only scratching the surface of better managing real time communications in the future by striking a balance between productivity tools, business work quality, and individual work-life balance.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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