Quick: what are your staffers doing at this very second? If you’re like most organizations, there’s a good chance many of your staffers are attending to personal matters. But who says it’s acceptable just because it happens in other offices too?
According to a recent survey of 2,000 office workers conducted by AtTask and Harris Interactive – experts in management and market research – employees at various firms said they only dedicate 45 percent of their time to getting stuff done. The remainder (55%) of the time gets spent sifting through emails, or in meetings that could easily be replaced by conference calls. Also on the list of common pastime activities was “miscellaneous interruptions.”
Some raw numbers
Actual time spent per activity, as relayed by the duo behind the survey:
- 45 percent for primary job duties
- 14 percent for email
- 12 percent for admin tasks
- 9 percent for useful meetings
- 8 percent for interruptions
- 7 percent for wasteful meetings
- 6 percent for everything else
Wasted time in the office translates into less productivity and a low moral for everyone. Teams lose their confidence in each other because opportunities and deadlines are often missed, and the whole business risks blowing up without warning. Many companies have overcome this problem. They use good old fashioned collaboration software to strike through many of the pesky time wasters listed above.
Poll your staff
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but a great deal of office workers actually prefer to be useful, instead of waiting for the clock 5:00 PM. Office supply chain store Staples anticipated this when they decided to carry out their own survey asking not how employees wasted their time, but how they actually wanted to work.
71 percent of telecommuters said work flexibility was an important benefit when considering a new job, while 65% of the employers who allow telecommuting reported happier employees. As much as 10 percent of the respondents said they’d actually take a salary cut just to keep the telecommuting benefit. Which is a very smart move, because if you don’t dictate your own workflow, someone else will. And if that happens, it will inflict more damage to your bottom line than any pay check can heal.