Updated: 5 days ago
The current Covid-19 Global Pandemic has exasperated the importance of individual productivity. The further merging of our work and home life has increased the importance of fully understand where we are wasting productivity.
Email aka the Pony Express
Although we’ve seen great progress in collaborative tools, for the most part we’re still sharing files as we did 20 years ago via email.
With over 269 billion emails sent globally every day, time spent on email takes up a significant portion of workers time and productivity. In fact, it is estimated that the average office worker receives between 88 -151 emails per day.
The average worker spends 28% of their work week on email, more than 11 hours a week.
That translates to sending and receiving 124 work emails every day or 620 emails every week. As confirmed in a recent survey by, McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corporation (IDC), this time adds up to a significant portion of an employee’s time.
The survey found that, more than a quarter of the average worker's day is spent answering and reading emails. Assuming an eight-hour day, that translates to about two hours, 14 minutes a day spent on emails. In fact, email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to "role-specific tasks." The McKinsey survey concluded that twice as much potential value lies in using productivity tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises. McKinsey estimates suggest that by fully implementing productivity technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers – high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals – by 20 to 25 percent. Email has not progressed to meet the increasingly productive world, even Nathaniel Borenstein who created the standard behind email attachments, believes that email is an outdated and inefficient tool.
Searching for Data
On average employees spend between 1.8 – 2.5 hours per day (or 9.3 hours per week) searching and gathering information. Put another way, if a business hires 5 employees only 4 will work the 5th will be searching for documents not contributing any value. That means 19.8 % of business time – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information.
As we've seen so far; email, searching and gathering information and communication takes a large percentage of our time and is responsible for the majority of our wasted productivity. However there is another often overlooked element that contributes to our wasted productivity.
When completing a task on your desktop you switch not only between applications but between tasks as well. This is called "context switching" and it bleeds productivity as
the average person needs at least 23 minutes to get fully back on task after an interruption. Even before our current remote work environment, with thousands of new applications as well as the many legacy applications, context switching was an exponentially increasing problem. For example, interrupting your work to check your email just 5 times will waste 2 hours a day of meaningful productivity . That’s time spent not working on emails but just refocusing between tasks.
Wasted Productivity = Wasted Money
Companies will continue to lose millions of dollars per year on wasted productivity, this amount will continue to grow as the number of applications and devices continues to expand.
Now that we have begun to understand how and where productivity is wasted, we are better equipped to form strategies and find tools, that will optimize our productivity and value our precious time.