Interaction and Communication: Constraints and Workspace Design

Learn about communication challenges in a large team and suggested solutions.

Communication constraints

Communication is the most important factor in the success or failure of the whole project. Communication can be difficult even when there’s only a few people, but it gets exponentially harder when more people are involved. When setting up a communication structure for a large team, we have to consider the following constraints:

  • Direct communication is the safest form of communication, and we know immediately if the receiver of our message understood what we said. However, the more people involved in a communication effort, the harder it is to get a message across. One reason is that there will not be enough time for everybody to participate actively in the conversation. Another reason is that typically only a few extroverts will participate, whereas all the introverts will accept the message because they are uncomfortable discussing anything in big groups.
  • Different sensory modalities: Every person obtains information differently. Some people, known as visuals, learn most effectively by watching. Auditories learn by listening, and kinesthetics learn through action.
  • Overdosing on communication media: Additionally, it seems to be a law that as soon as a communication path works, it will be abused until it does not work anymore. For example, if messages are transferred via e-mail, we’ll read our e-mails and respond to them. However, when our inbox is overflowing with new e-mails when we get to work each morning, we are likely to be very selective about which messages we read and respond to or ignore. This, of course, is bound to eventually result in our getting in trouble for not reading an e-mail that the sender assumed we read.

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