Why are we working longer hours but are actually less productive. What organisational culture practices are stealing your time?

Who is Stealing Your Time? Do you have the feeling of Longer Hours but Lower Productivity

Here’s the conundrum: people are working longer hours, but productivity in developed countries is declining. Wi-fi, smartphone and laptops allow us to work virtually anywhere and anytime, often late into the evening. But the massive improvements in technology have not resulted in an increase in productivity. Why is this?

I have two theories why productivity is not increasing

  1. Organisations have not tackled the cultural issues that steal away people’s productive time. I call these organisational time thieves.
  2. Working longer hours, in doing creative, knowledge work doesn’t actually result in improved output because people are less productive the more tired they are (read my blog on sleep deprivation).

Four Organisational Time Thieves

With technology enabling people to always be on-line does this mean organisations have actually become more inefficient? Before such technology things had to get done within the 8 hour work day. Now with 24/7 connectivity the work day can go on and on. It seems that technology has given organisations the opportunity to find new ways to waste your time. Here are a four organisational time thieves that I’ve experienced that could be stealing your free time.

[su_heading size=”15″ align=”left” margin=”0″ class=””]1. Drama Queen[/su_heading]
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With technology that means we can be contacted anytime, people now expect a response almost instantly. There are people (some who make it to boss level) where everything is a crisis. Even the tiniest issue they see as the equivalent of world war 3 breaking out and therefore they believe it is completely justified to text or ring their team at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In reality there is often little that can be done at that time of day about the issue.

[su_heading size=”15″ align=”left” margin=”0″ class=””]2. Cover Your Own A*** (CYOA) emailing[/su_heading]
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In organisations where the fear is that you will be the next person to made the scapegoat, the CYOA culture means that every communication is by email, zillions of people are cc’ed on an email and no one makes a decision without ten levels of email approval. CYOA also means time is wasted playing politics than actually doing any productive work.

[su_heading size=”15″ align=”left” margin=”0″ class=””]3. Global Over-Collaboration[/su_heading]
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Technology has made it easier to connect over the distance and now it seems organisation think it is a great idea to collaborate on everything and to get everyone’s virtual input before making a decision. To arrange a teleconference with the global team that spans from Europe, America to Australia means that someone is always on the phone in the middle of the night. How productive and collaborative is that person? Smarter ways of involving people and getting input need to be used.

[su_heading size=”15″ align=”left” margin=”0″ class=””]4. At my convenience but your inconvenience[/su_heading]
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I had a boss who would call you in the early evening as he was driving home or walking his dog. Very convenient for him to call to use his time more efficiently when commuting or dog walking. But the time wasn’t so convenient for me as I tried to get to the gym after work, cook dinner or talk to the family. This wouldn’t have been possible without a mobile phone.

So if you are starting to wonder why you are working such long hours, then don’t blame you’re the technology. Take a look at the organisational culture. Do you recognise any of these time thieves: drama queens, CYOA emailing, over- collaboration and calls at my convenience? Is there something else you’d like add to this list of Organisational Time Thieves?