Blame Email, Not Web, For Lost Productivity


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The conclusion of a recent survey is virally spreading across the web into newspapers and blogs. All you need to do is run a Google search on the clause that the “proliferation of collaboration and social tools designed to increase productivity is actually costing businesses millions of dollars per year in lost productivity” to see over 2,600 matched results.

The Daily News of Newburyport, the local rag here, includes that quotation as part of an op-ed that surmises Facebook is a waste of time.

As if this is news.

It is not surprising this “lost productivity” adds up to $10,375 wasted annually by workers earning $30 an hour. Nor is it surprising businesses with 1,000 employees are seeing $10 million lost.

But before you block employee access to Facebook, take away the additional monitors, or forbid employees to turn on their mobile devices at the workplace, can employers and wannabe publishers take a deeper look at the press release announcing the survey results from the 500 U.S. employees who took it?

IT managers should take a hard look at the paragraph in the press release devoted to ineffective document management.

Users also spend an average of 2-1/2 hours per week trying to find the documents they need in multiple local, corporate and cloud repositories. That adds up to 16 work days annually, costing businesses $3,900 per $30/hour employee per year to subsidize inefficient document management. The problem is exacerbated by the use of email attachments instead of posting documents to a central repository where they can be easily located. The survey found that:

The user’s email inbox is the #1 location searched, with 76% of respondents reporting email as the first place they look. Other locations include the desktop (69%), file server (52%), shared workspace (34%), portable storage device (18%) and/or cloud storage (9%).

The average user emails two or more documents per day to an average of five people for review, increasing email-based document volume by up to 50 documents per week. The fact that these attachments are stored on multiple local computers complicates the challenge of finding the latest document versions as well as merging feedback from multiple reviewers.

When you consider Facebook is only responsible for 9% of lost productivity, but emailing uses 23%, how come that Daily News op-ed fails to mention anything about email?

Stop picking on Facebook. Stop picking on social media. When 73% of users are implementing their own individual mandates to curb social appetite, the onus should be on managers to understand why email and searchability are the bigger culprits of lost productivity.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog is the Principal of Digital AH, providing services in digital media auditing, marketing, and training.


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