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Article: Survey Finds Workers Average Only Three Productive Days per Week Related Resources

Survey Finds Workers Average Only Three Productive Days per Week
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro

Ineffective meetings, unclear objectives and lack of team communication are some of the top time wasters that workers say make them feel unproductive for as much as a third of the workweek. According to a new online survey by Microsoft, respondents also said that they struggle with the need to work longer hours while seeking better balance in their lives. They found that they rely on technology tools to assist in personal and professional productivity.

With responses from more than 38,000 people in 200 countries, the Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge, rated workers productivity based on responses to 18 statements about their workplace. Some of the U.S. findings:

•Employees work an average of 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive.

•Approximately 16% of participants relate their productivity directly to their software.

•Over 66% said that they don’t have work-life balance.

•Only 31% said they are using proven scheduling tools and techniques.

•Women had an average productivity score of 70% while men were at 68%.

•Workers said they receive an average of 56 e-mail messages per day.

•The most common productivity problems are procrastination, 42%, lack of team communication, 39%, and ineffective meetings, 34%.

The results of the survey come as no surprise to many employees. Procrastination occurs when information is not clear, or the employee does not feel comfortable with the task. Workers frequently complain that objectives are muddy and information is not communicated effectively.

“Runaway meetings” are identified as the biggest time waster by more than a quarter (27 percent) of workers polled in a recent survey by Office Team, a staffing service specializing in skilled administrative professionals. Many companies continue to conduct meetings in the same format as years ago; inviting large groups of people, allowing excessive time, and often with no clear leadership of the meeting. With today’s lean staffing levels, there is a need to restructure meetings for greater efficiency.

Workers in Microsoft’s survey reported that they rely on technology tools to stay on task. Here are some things you can do in your workplace for better efficiency:

•Train staff how to proactively use technology instead of reactively responding. One reason that “time saving” devices often don’t save time is that we react to them rather than structuring their use. Plan your day with specific times to answer phone calls, check messages, and read e-mails. You lose efficiency when you rapidly move from one task to another.

•Use a system to find electronic documents quickly and efficiently. Use folders to organize your documents and important files. Make sure that the document names are descriptive and easy to find.

•Make sure all computer users back up important documents and programs. Don’t forget to back up programs on a regular basis. Back up on the hard drive as well as an external storage (CD’s, floppys) for extra safety. Nothing will slow you down quicker than a crashed system.

•Staff should be trained in basic computer maintenance such as cleaning up disk space and defragmenting to increase computer efficiency. These routine tasks do not need to be done by IT personnel or a tech person. Each user can easily be trained to program and monitor these routine operations.

•Establish spam filters and sorters to help manage e-mail more effectively. There are increasingly sophisticated programs to filter e-mails and protect machines. Initiate a company wide filter and add one for your home computer.

•Set company guidelines on how e-mail is to be used. One of the most common complaints of employees these days is “too much e-mail.” Set procedures on who needs to be copied and on what. Train staff on e-mail protocol including appropriate length, content, and tone.

•Train all staff in time management including a priority system. While employees may have had some training in time management, it needs to be refreshed on a regular basis to be effective. Make sure that employees at all levels know how to establish a priority system and time accountabilities.

Remember, time is the one non-renewable resource.

Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at

FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at


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