WhatsApp / Pexels

By now, practically everyone has used WhatsApp for one reason or another. Whether to message friends or family, commence discussions with colleagues, or contact any potential clients.

WhatsApp has well and truly taken over the instant messaging space.

Ever since its launch in 2009 as a free messaging service, WhatsApp has been a major hit with billions of people across the globe. The application has more than five billion downloads and more than two billion active users, with it growing from just a messaging application to also include voice, video and group calls, among other features.

WhatsApp has also become more prominent within workplaces, with more businesses opting to use it as a means of communication between colleagues, rather than through the more formal and time-consuming emails, or through dedicated work messaging applications.

This seems advantageous, but not to every business leader.

Rajan Singh, Founder of India-based consultancy firm HabitStrong, shared his thoughts about WhatsApp on Monday, saying that five years ago, he reduced 50 per cent of his stress by banning the application for official work.

Prior to that, Mr Singh was using WhatsApp at one of his start-ups, and over the years, “created dozens of WhatsApp groups”.

Mr Singh, experienced in consultancy and advisory, set up HabitStrong in 2020, conducting online bootcamps for individuals to help introduce discipline, mindfulness and focus. Programmes currently focus on digital deaddiction, focused learning and deep work, among other topics.

Rajan Singh / LinkedIn
HabitStrong Founder Rajan Singh / LinkedIn

“Soon after, I was mindlessly checking and responding to messages every few minutes. And as a bonus, every time I checked WhatsApp, I would also get to see messages from the whole world,” he continued.

He shared that during that period, he had “no peace of mind”. Mr Singh then said that if he felt so distracted, then his team could end up having the same fate.

“So one day, I banned WhatsApp for official work and moved my start-up to Slack. Later, I even deleted WhatsApp from my phone,” he explained. He pointed out that this is not a solution that works for everyone, as Slack can also be very distracting.

“At HabitStrong, we minimise Slack usage, and there is no pressure to respond quickly, as for urgent things, we call instead,” he remarked.

Mr Singh said that if an organisation decides to use WhatsApp for official work purposes, it has to analyse whether it is causing “more harm than good”.

“Yes, WhatsApp is fast. But remember, infinite connectivity brings infinite interruptions. Nothing in this world comes free,” he concluded.

On the local front, the importance of WhatsApp was examined in the 2023 print edition of MaltaCEOs. Each of the 50 CEOs interviewed was asked about the importance of the messaging service, whether it serves as a useful tool or is generally a pain.

Overall, the majority of business leaders responded positively, expressing that WhatsApp has indeed served as a useful tool to their day-to-day lives.

For example, Multigas Group CEO Michael Mifsud, stated that WhatsApp has “changed people’s lives for the better”. Similarly, Pierre-Etienne Cizeron, CEO of Epic Malta, noted that the tool is very “useful” and “efficient”.

While most appreciate the messaging service, those who are not in favour of echoed a similar sentiment to Mr Singh, noting just how distracting the application is.

Residency Malta Agency CEO Charles Mizzi said that while it is very useful, some people take its use “too far”.

Arthur Gerada, CEO of Healthcare Logistics Ltd, explained that the application is “a tool like any other”, and all tools can end up hindering performance if they are “used wrongly”.

BDO Malta CEO Mark Attard said that even though he uses WhatsApp, he only does so for “personal reasons”, thus separating work and life at home.

Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia, like other respondents, expressed his discontent at having to use WhatsApp, noting that describing it as a the “bane of one’s existence” would not suffice, as an adequate description would require a stronger word than “bane”.

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