It’s no secret that tool consolidation has been top-of-mind for IT leaders as a cost-saving measure amid the economic uncertainty of the past year. And even now, as the macro-environment starts to stabilize, we should continue to prioritize thoughtful management of their organizations’ technology stack to ensure the well-being of both their business and, importantly, their workforce.
Earlier this year, Miro commissioned a study about the causes and costs of mental blocks — the feeling of being stuck and unable to move forward with a task or project; all but 4% of information workers say this is a feeling that they’ve experienced at least once. One in four identify “tool overload” (not knowing which tool to use) as a top blocker, and relatedly, nearly half say that their mental blocks manifest as “information hunting” (being unable to find the right information at the right moment). In fact, this is the most common type of mental block that the information workers surveyed say they experience.
While other common mental blocks — such as spiraling in too many directions or struggling to get started — are best addressed at the individual or team level, CIOs can take three steps to help solve the interconnected issues of tool overload and information hunting at scale.
The hidden costs of mental blocks
First, to fully grasp the criticality of pursuing company-wide fixes for mental blocks, it’s important to understand their impact.
When people are forced to search for or summarize information across platforms, productivity decreases substantially and the business’s bottom line suffers. Based on how much time survey respondents say they spend trying to overcome mental blocks and leveraging average salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we estimate that just one hour of lost productivity per week can cost an enterprise with 1,000 employees over $2.2M annually.
In addition to endangering a company’s economic health, mental blocks take a significant toll on employees’ mental health. Nearly two-thirds of information workers say that mental blocks increase their level of burnout (65%) and sow seeds of self-doubt (62%). They can also damage team dynamics, with nearly one-third of workers wondering if they have the right manager when they find themselves so frequently getting stuck.
3 steps to mitigate mental blocks at scale
To help ensure their organizations’ financial and emotional well-being, IT leaders can take three steps to address common causes of mental blocks.
1. Conduct regular technology audits
The pandemic-era explosion of technological solutions to support ever-evolving ways of work has led to significant tool overlap — and overload — that can make it more difficult to get work done today.
By streamlining their technology stack, CIOs can minimize costs and confusion over which tools to use, while enhancing collaboration and security. Creating an audit checklist that takes both quantitative data (e.g. usage metrics) and qualitative insights (e.g. stakeholder input) into consideration is key.
2. Create clear usage guidelines
Alongside the audit, it’s essential to establish and communicate guidelines that delineate which platforms are best suited for specific tasks or communications.
For instance, designating a single platform for project management discussions can prevent the scattering of crucial information across multiple channels, making it easier for teams to find what they need, when they need it. This not only optimizes productivity but also enables employees to spend more time on meaningful tasks that push innovation forward.
3. Encourage mindful collaboration
The survey findings suggest that collaboration is key to countering mental blocks, with a majority (63%) of information workers reporting getting stuck when working on solo projects.
Yet, effective collaboration doesn't mean constant collaboration. For example, a product development team requires opportunities to brainstorm new features together, as well as windows of uninterrupted focus for individual coding sprints.
CIOs can encourage mindful collaboration among their employees by helping to define applications for asynchronous versus synchronous work and ensuring that their employees have access to tools that facilitate both.
Mental blocks, fueled by a congested technology environment, are more than just personal productivity hurdles; they're organizational challenges with significant consequences. By adopting a strategic approach that’s grounded in a streamlined stack, clear communication guidelines and thoughtful collaborative practices, CIOs can foster a culture that's empowering, energizing and ultimately innovative.
Miro surveyed 2,000 information workers in May 2023 to gain insights into their experiences with mental blocks. All respondents were employed full-time, located in the U.S., and ages 18+