Work WhatsApp groups is it a Hero or a Foe?
WhatsApp has come with a bang! Currently there are more than 1,2 billion monthly active WhatsApp users worldwide, with 64 billion overall messages everyday and about 10 million users in South Africa only. WhatsApp has become the largest messaging platform in the world and we can all understand why? It is cheap, easy to use, faster and very convenient. What a better way of communicating these days. I can’t now imagine a life without it. I am so hooked but is it a blessing or a foe especially at work or any other important platform. Is it taking away our freedom, our peace or social skills? Are we prisoners of our own invention or are we failing to manage what is supposed to bless us? Are work WhatsApp groups affecting our personal lives now? Is it taking away our resting period or is it increasing our productivity?
WhatsApp is working so much well especially in our manufacturing industry where you can just text to get a quick response about the plant, machine and so on. We will know who is working at what shift, who is not available and so on? It’s easier to get information these days at work. Because it’s a platform where everyone is available, you can’t afford a bad reputation. So in a way its increasing efficiency and productivity.
Currently everyone physically leave the office when its time up, but not leaving his or her work. They remain attached to work through the WhatsApp group. Employees and even employers have come under increased pressure from work due to WhatsApp work group. These groups are requiring us to respond or act on any messages sent by our colleagues or superiors even on weekends or even when off sick. Some companies actually have numerous WhatsApp groups where managers are part of each group. People are getting stressed or burned-out with this because they have to constantly check the phone. A research was done by some scientist and concluded that constantly looking at the phone is actually resulting in people getting depressed; strain their eyes; trigger Nomophobia (fear of losing the phone); causes anxiety; interfere with sleep; causes neck and upper back pain and even causing road accidents. Replying work chats has reduced social skills in people as they need to constantly reply work group charts, fearing to loose their job.
They are also incurring challenges of mistakenly posting wrong messages on a wrong chat group resulting in people getting fired, demoted or resigning because they can’t bear to face their colleagues the following day. But should someone be fired because they sent a wrong message or embarrassing message on work WhatsApp group, or because they didn’t respond to a message? Or should everyone now buy a smart phone with WhatsApp because you can’t afford not to be part of the work group chat? What does the law say about this?
Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that employees are entitled to rest periods. Therefore as employers and employees we may need to be considerate when texting messages outside other people’s working hours. If its urgent especially in the factory where a machine has stopped working, then a phone call will be much more convenient. People can’t be expected to answer WhatsApp messages in the middle of the night or during weekends when they are resting.
People are now struggling to find the right balance between their work and personal lives. Constant messages on the phone are becoming irritating and even affecting productivity because people are constantly checking the WhatsApp. We are now witnessing an erosion of office hours to the modern day worker. A phone can have 100 messages with people answering messages like, “Thank you”, “noted” and so on which is truly a wastage of time, data bundles and battery.
Many countries are looking at regulating OTT such as WhatsApp right now. It is therefore vital as well that companies looks at ways of regulating communication platform such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook and twitter. In doing this you will not only protect the company brand but you will also retain your skills and improve productivity. WhatsApp is a HERO but every hero has operational guidelines to be effective.