The sorry state of work-place productivity

STOP WASTING^ - NARA - 515503

In my daily trolling through the internet, I came across this interesting infographic examining the reasons contributing to poor workplace productivity. I think you’ll find it interesting to scroll through (shown in its entirety below), and it hits all the highlights of “time wastage” — estimated total cost (to the US economy), average hours/week, biggest time wasters, internet surfing, our reasons for wasting time, etc.

For me, two sections jumped out and had me pondering what they really tell us: where we think we waste our time, and why we waste it. For “where”, the reasons given are: 47% — meetings; 43% — office politics; 37% — fixing others’ mistakes; 36% — annoying co-workers; 22% — busywork; 20% — tending to work emails; 18% — internet; 14% — dealing with bosses. For “why” we waste time, the survey says: 35% — not challenged enough; 34% — hours are too long; 32% — no incentive to work harder; 30% — unsatisfied with job; 23% — bored; 18% — underpaid. My take-away from this: The vast majority of our productivity loss come down to: (i) how we organize ourselves to work — hierarchical work structures and command and control management approaches which aren’t very flexible; (ii) how our work environments generally lack clarity as to expected business outcomes — driving lots of busywork, re-work, and team/office conflicts; and (iii) how we are not very good at creating incentives (monetary and non-monetary) for tying personal and team contribution to business outcomes.

The end result is confusion, lack of trust, and lots of opportunity for slackers and shirkers to hide in the grey zones and get away with “mischief making” while everyone else works harder and harder to get the business of the day done. Sounds like we need to blow up our 19th century organizational constructs and redesign for the 21st century work realities. Your thoughts?

Here is the infographic I promised….

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2 thoughts on “The sorry state of work-place productivity

  1. Seeing this infographic confirms all the reasons why I’m the type of person who thrives from working solo from home. Ever since I left my office environment a year and a half ago, my productivity level soared. Some people thrive off working in a loud and lively environment, but I become significantly less productive.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. I’ve been “independent” now for 10 years and agree absolutely about your personal productivity statement. When it does get lonely (and it does, from time to time) that serves to remind me to get out and network more, meet new people, engage in interesting conversations… from which eventually great opportunities for more work and more learning emerge. It all becomes a “virtuous circle” once you develop the discipline and persistence to manage your time and your activities accordingly. To independence…!

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