Workplace Study Points To Source Of Technology Paradox
Survey finds distractions from technology and poor work practices limit employees to about 3 hours of real work a day.
Knowledge workers work such short hours on their actual jobs (three--ish hours) that tech has a very narrow window of application in people's day thus limiting the productivity benefits that can be delivered by such short useage. Tech cannot eliminate terrible business processes and pointless meetings.
This might explain the productivity paradox -- it's a work management problem first.
Global spending on IT will pass $5 trillion this year (IDC) yet there’s shockingly little evidence that higher technology spending improves business productivity — it often has the opposite effect and hinders productivity. The reasons for this productivity paradox are not clear and have perplexed economists for decades.
This Stanford University computer science site Productivity Paradox discusses possible reasons for tech's mysterious failing performance in the workplace -- such as difficulties in choosing the right metrics. Unable to find more compliant metrics these experts conclude that they "would like to believe that 'IT does matter””.
The trillions of dollars spent on IT means there’s a lot of believers but why can’t we find the productivity data in this age of Big Data? It’s frustratingly counterintuitive that technology advances over the past two decades have done nothing to budge worker productivity.
The immense irony that our IT productivity technologies hinder workplace productivity is difficult to accept. But there’s some interesting statistics in a recent report commissioned by Workfront, an enterprise software project management platform based in Utah.
The State of Work: 2020 report collected responses from 3,750 knowledge workers across four countries: US (1,500), United Kingdom (1,000), Germany (750) and the Netherlands (500).
They were asked about many different subjects such as their use of technologies, workplace habits and how much time they spent on different activities.
By far the most interesting part of the report was how little time employees said they were able to work on the primary duties. UK workers spent the least time: 40% — three hours out of eight hours doing the job they were hired for — with an average of 43% across all four countries.
It revealed an enormous productivity gap. The respondents blamed too many hours in pointless meetings, answering too many emails and dealing with distractions from constant interruptions at work.
It’s easy to see that certain collaborative technologies can be sources of distraction but this is minor compared to what is by far the biggest reason for the technology productivity paradox: there’s shockingly little time to do primary work.
Technology investments can't compete with what can be gained from simply eliminating inefficient work practices. Tech productivity investments can only be applied during the times people are working on their primary duties — which averages slightly over 3 hours in an eight hour day. It’s essentially a two-day work week.
This nearly 60 percent productivity gap revealed by the Workfront survey cannot be solved by technology. Which is why the productivity paradox persists. Bad workplace practices hold back productivity.
In the global digital transformation of business the competitive battles will be won by the organizations with the most efficient workflows — and that’s when productivity technologies will prove their worth.