Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Technologies Designed to Save Time Are Helping Us Waste It

ARCHIVES
Sophie James/Shutterstock.com

Technologies like email and videoconferencing, designed to save time, end up helping people waste more of it. A new study by Bain & Company published at the Harvard Business Review finds that the way we order our lives and structure our business operations, and particularly our meetings, wastes a spectacular amount of time.

Organizations account for how money is used. But time, for the most part, is barely tracked and sucked up by meetings and preparing for them. Things like email, conference calls, and online calendars make scheduling and attending things so easy people don’t stop to think before they do it.

The statistics from the study are pretty incredible:

  • A study of Outlook schedules at one company found that a weekly meeting of an executive committee created a total of 300,000 hours of additional work and meetings over the course a year for the participants and their teams. That included meeting time, as well as preparation and followup.
  • 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings, a percentage that’s gone up yearly since 2008
  • On average, senior executives spend more than two days a week in meetings with more than three people
  • Senior executives get an average of 30,000 external communications a year, versus 1,000 in the 1970s.

The data come from a study of time use at 17 large companies that used analytics tools from VoloMetrix.

For senior executives especially, meetings, calls, and emails create hours of work for other people. A failure to measure time use and the fact that most companies have no way to discourage or penalize unproductive meetings help make things worse.

The authors make some good suggestions for organizations and people, like creating a limited time budget for meetings, and always having a clear and very limited agenda.

If there’s one overall takeaway, the best thing an individual can do is to think twice before sending an email or scheduling a meeting. Not only are most of them time wasters, they have a cascade effect on our own time and that of others that we don’t think about enough. It all seriously adds up.

(Image via Sophie James/Shutterstock.com)

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be found here

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.