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Our Webinar Attendees’ Ideas of What it Means to be (Un)Productive at Work

by | Jul 10, 2020

A little over a month ago, our VP of Marketing, Justin Schmidt, presented a webinar with HR.com where he shared 21 productivity hacks that can transform the way you work. A total of 1,137 people registered for that webinar. Since it was clearly a hot topic, we thought it would be interesting to survey those who attended the webinar to learn more about their habits and opinions on staying productive at work. 

The root of unproductive days.

Whether you’re working from the office or at home, there is always something that can change your day’s trajectory from being high-yielding to fruitless, where the end of the day arrives and you ask yourself, “What did I even do today?” When we asked the webinar’s participants, what prevents them from having a productive day, almost half of the respondents (47%) said daily distractions. 

This stat isn’t too far off from a recent survey by Udemy that found that nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70%) admitted that they feel distracted when they’re on the job, with 16% asserting that they’re almost always distracted.

If you’re interested in stopping distractions before they start, we cover the four tips that Justin shared with us during his webinar in part two of our productivity hacks series. These tips include using productivity apps, implementing a system-wide do-not-disturb mode, setting messaging alerts, and separating your personal and professional user profiles on your computer. 

When it came to the remaining 53% of reasons for unproductive days, the second most popular response was tedious email communication (19%), followed by lack of time management (16%), unproductive meetings (12%), and a mix between unruly calendars and the environment (6%). 

Best place to be productive.

Though it was only a fraction of our respondents said their environment negatively affected their days, where and when you work can definitely affect your productivity levels. Now that many people have been working from home for the last 3 months, we wanted to understand if our respondents have found themselves more productive working from home or in the office.

When asked where they found themselves most productive, the results showed that 21% of respondents are more productive working at home, 17% are more productive in the office, and  62% of respondents believed a mixture of at-home and in-office work would be best. 

In a recent survey by Airtasker, they found some substantial results in favor of working remote vs. in office:

“On average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office. And on those workdays, they spent more time getting things done. While office workers reported an average of 37 minutes each workday not getting work done (outside of lunch and standard breaks), remote employees only lost 27 minutes of each workday to distractions. While remote workers did take more time for official breaks than office employees, evidence shows that taking breaks actually leads to higher rates of productivity.”

Best time to be productive.

When it comes to the time of day that our respondents found themselves most productive, a majority said they complete more work in the morning (57%), followed by the afternoon (22%), the evening (10%), and the late-night/early-morning (10%). 

Regardless of when you find yourself most productive, it’s important to make sure that you take advantage of that time. We all have blocks of time that we find ourselves most productive and times where we are in a slump during the workday (this is called an ultradian rhythm). However, you can get more work done if you find your peak productivity times and prioritize the biggest projects then. The times where you feel like you can’t focus aren’t completely useless, because they are excellent for completing the routine tasks that don’t take much thought to complete. 

Dealing with an information bottleneck. 

The last question we asked our respondents included how they tend to gather the information they need to complete their work. Searching through emails, apps, or files to find information takes time and often distracts employees from the larger task at hand. According to a survey by Mckinsey, the average employee spends nearly 20% of their time (just over 9 hours per week) searching for information.

From our survey, 81% of the respondents said they often have to complete a combination of calling co-workers, emailing co-workers, setting up meetings, and digging through electronic files to locate the information they need to move projects forward. 

If this disjointed collaboration sounds familiar, you might be surprised how easy it is to streamline how your organization accesses information by investing in software to help your team do its best work. Capacity connects to knowledge bases, intranets, websites, apps, and files to retrieve and deliver answers to questions that you would typically ask a coworker. It also can streamline the more routine tasks that we mentioned earlier, so you can spend more of your time on projects that require higher-level thinking.