Editor's note: How much of our time at the office is spent on performing our actual duties? What are the things that distract us from work and how do we deal with time wasting during working hours? Freelance writer and YEN.com.gh contributor, Daniel Dela Dunoo explores the subject in the feature, 'Dealing with time wastage in corporate circles '.
I chanced upon a piece of research conducted somewhere in the United States and will like to share a bit of it because of its relevance to the subject matter: In the annual Wasting Time at Work Survey, salary.com reported that 89 percent of respondents admitted that they waste time at work each day. A small percentage even admitted that they waste at least half of an 8 hour workday on non work-related tasks.
Dr. Donald E. Wetmore who made over 2,000 presentations across the globe about management and personal productivity itemizes findings from a survey of more than 1,000 people he was personally involved in. I will share a bit of it. “When we last did this survey in 2012, 64% of our survey respondents said they waste time at work on a daily basis.” He notes that in 2013, that number rose to as much as 69% of the people surveyed. Most people (34%) said they routinely waste 30 minutes or less each day while on the clock. Nearly one-quarter (24%) said they waste between 30-60 minutes daily, with 11% claiming they spend several hours per day wasting time on non work related items on a daily basis.
One thing the above statistics reveal is this: time wastage in corporate settings is alive and well. In Ghana (as is the case with many developing countries) statistics about time wastage in corporate circles is non-existent. However, a cursory observation will reveal that perhaps time wastage is rather rife. The use of work hours for non-work related tasks is an all too common phenomenon in many companies in Ghana, and more especially in public sector institutions.
It is an open secret that in several offices across the length and breadth of the nation, many workers are routinely late for work and yet are the very same people who exit their offices earlier than they should. Some employees idle about, while others engage in ventures that have nothing whatsoever to do with their roles, responsibilities and job descriptions. Some bury their heads into newspaper publications and lottery papers, leaving undone significant loads of work that ought to have been done.
Some employees are also known to use office time to chat excessively, browse the internet (social media sites in particular). Some employees are accustomed to being extremely slow in carrying out their duties. They see long queues form and yet rather than increase their pace of work so as to serve as many clients as possible, they move at their own pace.
Some employers and employees have developed the penchant for procrastinating. The task that ought to have been carried out and that could have been carried out is rescheduled in other to attend to a less important task. Productivity and profitability suffers as a result. Time wastage is counter-productive and should give employers, managers and human resource professionals a cause for serious concern.
Company time is not your time
When contracted to work with a given establishment, you essentially trade some of your time (working hours) for some amount of money (pay, salary, allowances, wages). You are contracted to provide a particular service (or group of services) within a specified period of time (where applicable). It makes perfect sense to exert your best efforts in the performances of your assigned role (s). Wasting company`s time will eventually show in the results you bring to the table. In other words, your productivity is at least partially tied to how well you use your time while on the job.
As an employee, have you ever wondered why some of your colleagues seem to achieve so much within a relatively short period of time? Check how well you utilize company time. Make the most of it, don`t waste it. In time, the results will be there to show.
Employers must get involved
There is hardly any employer who does not desire that employees optimize productivity while on the job. Time wastage at work stifles productivity since the time that should have been invested into work, is diverted into non work-related tasks. It is therefore in the interest of employers to ensure that time wastage does not become an organizational culture but is nipped in the bud as soon as possible and as much as practicable.
That said, employees ought to be given daily, weekly and monthly targets where applicable. With results-oriented targets and goals, employees will be more focused on their tasks and will have less time to engage in non work-related tasks. And what if they are able to meet those set targets or deadlines early enough to have some time on their hands? Joyson Demer has some thoughts to share.
He states: “Instead of restricting employees` online activities, employers should focus on personal work outcomes. If employees are completing all of their work on schedule despite spending half their work day wasting time it might be smart to add more duties to their job descriptions. Quite obviously some employers will not be too happy with Demer`s suggestion since it means their work load will increase.
However, a measure such as that suggested by Demer will boost productivity. The benefits will trickle down to employees in the long run. Where employees put in more work, productivity levels will most likely increase and so will business profitability which may translate to better pay and remunerations.
More suggestions for maximizing company time
Ultimately, both employers and employees ought to take personal responsibility in dealing with time wastage at work. The suggestions below will aid both employers and employees make significant strides.
Employers must ensure that their companies invest in high quality machines and office supplies. Obsolete machines break down frequently and are not efficient as new and upgraded versions. Even where employees are poised to exert their best efforts, obsolete machines and equipments will simply retard their progress and result in time wastage on the job. A task that should have taken 2 hours, may take 4 hours or more to accomplish where machines are obsolete. The reverse is also true.
As a worker, be driven by a sense of duty and prioritize your daily work-related tasks. Dr and Mrs. Howard Taylor had this to say about the Reverend James Taylor, their great grandfather, “He was a man with a supreme sense of duty. The thing that ought to be done was the thing he put first, always. Ease, pleasure, self improvement, had to take whatever place they could.” That, I suppose is pretty good rule to follow while on the job.
Avoid procrastination as much as possible. The adage, “procrastination is the thief of time” holds true. Christopher Parker once made an insightful statement thus: “Procrastination is like a credit card. It`s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” So true!
Continually work at improving your competence. All things being equal, an improvement in competence will lead to improvement in productivity. An incisive mind once noted, “yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash on hand. Spend it wisely.”
All things being equal, a win over time wastage will be a win for productivity and profitability; it will be a win for company success and career advancement. Let`s get to work then.
Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo, Freelance writer, published author, professional marketer and the founder of Top-notch Writing Solutions, Ghana.
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