The toggle tax is a concept introduced by Harvard Business Review to describe the amount of time users spend (and waste) toggling between their different workplace applications. While it may seem like just a measure of the time users spend, the study reveals that there is an enormous cognitive toll that takes place as users engage in what is known as context switching, and recalibrating themselves. As a result, it leads to losses in productivity.

Based on our survey of over 600 IT and compliance professionals, and our experience with some of the largest, global financial services firms, the challenges organizations face in meeting regulatory obligations for unified communications can also be leading to a toggle tax for business users, IT and compliance teams.

For business users of unified communication and collaboration platforms (UCC), our survey revealed that two thirds (68%) of firms are limiting the functionality of their UCC platforms due to compliance concerns. When users have to jump and toggle between different applications based on the functionality they need, such as in meeting chat, file sharing, whiteboarding and others, this serves as an effective toggle tax in the classic sense.

For IT teams serving internal compliance and governance clients, there is a toggle tax in requiring multiple capture tools for managing the retention of communications that must be retained for compliance recordkeeping purposes. For example, a large organization may have multiple capture tools and archives for email, enterprise social, mobile messaging, unified communications and other platforms. These fragmented data silos contain their own administrative tools, user interfaces, search capabilities and infrastructure management. The end result for IT teams is a unique type of toggle tax based on day to day multiple administrative requirements along with high profile governance events that require responding to internal stakeholders such as legal, compliance and HR during investigations, litigation and regulatory audits. These toggle taxes often result in substandard efforts that can be kindly characterized as "best and most reasonable" under trying circumstances and subpar through a more critical lens. These circumstances not only result in lost productivity but also potentially catastrophic business outcomes. The bottom line is that firms are often uncertain about what they are capturing, if they know where it is located, and if they can even produce without missing critical elements in responding to time compressed governance events. In this scenario, a toggle tax that might be minimized as administrative fatigue can actually result in regulatory fines, sanctions, judgements and loss of brand reputation.

Recognizing the costs of the Toggle Tax, in UCC and compliance

Zoom, one of the leading UCC platforms, as well as Theta Lake investor and partner, talked about the toggle tax as far back in 2022, when discussing the fatigue users faced in switching between multiple UCC platforms, and how alternatively, users could find greater productivity and less fatigue through standardizing on the Zoom platform and it's numerous, integrated, complimentary applications. Recently, Zoom doubled down on it's approach by announcing the release of Zoom Compliance Manager - powered by Theta Lake which provides a unified approach to compliance and security in the Zoom platform, further easing the toggle tax burden faced by IT administrators and compliance personnel, charged with addressing risk in Zoom unified communications.

How Theta Lake can help

Theta Lake Unified Capture enables organizations to fully adopt and leverage the capabilities of UC platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, RingCentral, and more. Decision makers can confidently enable all functionality, including chat, voice, video, whiteboards, and document sharing, without compromising compliance requirements. This means that both customers and colleagues can enjoy the full functionality of the communications tools they know and love while not having to toggle between platforms like a digital archipelago, in the hopes of finding the applications that supply needed functionality.

Unified Capture also enables firms to standardize on their capture operations with greater scale and efficiency byserving as a single point of control for capturing written, audio and visual communications, Theta Lake Unified Capture makes it easy for admins to oversee and manage the communications landscape across your organization.

Theta Lake Unified Search solves the compliance search challenges associated with the volume and complexity of UCC communications, while removing the barriers and limitations associated with legacy archive infrastructure. Unified Search provides a number of market leading, innovative tools including visual dashboards, generative AI and relationship graphing to make compliance and governance orienteds searches more productive for IT and compliance personnel.

On a surface level, the toggle tax seems like just an issue of productivity and a workplace burden. On a deeper level, it leads to employee burnout, fatigue and subpar work efforts. In a regulated environment like financial services, combined with the array of complexity posed by the use of multiple unified communication and collaboration platforms, legacy capture and archive tools that produce numerous toggle taxes can also result in catastrophic business results. Theta Lake can help solve these challenges in a modular, frictionless way that improves user, IT and compliance personnel productivity.

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