Co-workers who send texts or emails during video calls may be judged as unprofessional, but new research suggests they may actually benefit the workplace.

Previous research has shown that actions like using social media or texting during another conversation could be distracting, may impair task performance, and can lead to unfavorable social judgments against the multicommunicator. Although multicommunicators may be perceived as unengaged or unprofessional, new research suggests they actually may be able to harness information acquired from secondary conversations to enhance their primary task. This could augment their contributions to meetings and reduce delays.

According to the lead researcher of the new study in Computers in Human Behavior Reports, multicommunicating can be most beneficial when people are able to balance their divided attention and effectively manage the expectations of whoever they are communicating with. Multicommunication is most promising when the two media used can complement each other.