Using technology in the office—ranging from putting on headphones to browsing the Internet—is creating a new kind of workplace communication, experts tell NPR.
Increasingly, many employees keep their eyes on their laptops or handheld devices as others speak in meetings. Moreover, many workers communicate with colleagues that sit only a few desks away using email or instant messenger, or wear headphones at their desks to tune out conversations.
"We're getting used to a new way of being alone together," says Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle. She argues that by communicating through short snippets of information, texts, and posts, workers are connecting but not conversing.
"People can't get enough of each other—if and only if they can have each other at a distance, in amounts they can control," Turkle recently said at a TED talk. "I call it the Goldilocks effect. Not too close, not too far, just right."
However, NPR notes that studies have not yet determined the impact of the Internet in the workplace; while some studies suggest that the Internet and social media boost feelings of loneliness and depression, others show that it may increase conversation and productivity (Goetz, NPR, 5/28).