Help your staff work smarter – not harder

 

With the constant availability of email and mobile phones in the digital age, the “work smarter not harder” adage may seem out of place in the modern office. Recent research by Atlassian, an Australian software development company, discovered that over 60 per cent of employees time at work is wasted and pointed out two major causes – emails and face-to-face meetings.

While meetings are essential to the running of any business, over reliance on email as a primary communication method may have a detrimental impact on staff’s productivity. For instance, Atlassian found that most people check their email at an average rate of around 36 times per hour.

It’s not so much the time staff spend reading email that is concerning, as the act of checking email in itself is remarkably disruptive. Every time an employee checks their email, it takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 16 minutes to refocus on the task they were doing prior.

Email also serves to silo people’s knowledge, and is best suited for simple communication, not lengthy back and forth collaboration. If a problem requires the collaboration of multiple staff members, it may work best to bring them all together for a brief, informal meeting to discuss solutions.

While it is unrealistic to remove email communication from the workplace completely, it may be beneficial to limit the amount of time spent checking email. This can be achieved easily by limiting email programs to only check for new messages every half hour, or once every hour.

Helping employees take control of their email could help regain some lost productivity in your office, however, it is important to remember another adage – “if it wasn’t written, it didn’t happen.” Reminding staff of this may help ensure that an over-reliance on email doesn’t suddenly turn into them neglecting it completely.

Posted by George Tarbey on 02/12/2013 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

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