Why is business productivity stalled by ‘false starts’?

Employment & Skills | Surveys
Robbie O’Connor, Asana’s Head of EMEA

As the UK economy’s productivity levels show the first signs of increase since the financial crisis and experts start pointing to workplace efficiency gains, a recent study finds that many UK firms are being held back by needless admin and inefficient processes.

In fact, work-management software company Asana has found that two thirds of employees at UK companies (63%) spend more than eight hours a week – the equivalent of the average working day – looking for information or trying to understand the status of work they should be doing, instead of actually getting work done.

The inability to effectively organise information and projects quickly is draining UK productivity with 13% of the 2,000 people surveyed, spending more than double that average – 19 hours a week tackling this issue.

Businesses are now operating in what McKinsey & Co calls ‘The Age of Urgency’ – having to move faster than ever before with clear purpose to remain competitive and research from Asana, underlines that employees at UK companies are still being hampered by a lack of direction, information and purpose.

Asana’s research also shows that nearly half of UK employees (47%) say that they are asked to stop working on a project on a weekly basis without any reason given. Nearly a quarter (22%), said this is a daily occurrence.

The false starts and lack of clarity on work within an organisation is leading to a decline in employee engagement and motivation. Forty one per cent of employees surveyed believe that their work goes unnoticed by the business or other employees and a quarter (24%) say that their team or manager regularly does not know what they are working on.

Robbie O’Connor, Head of EMEA Business at Asana, said: “The recent economic news is a promising indication that the UK is beginning to solve its productivity puzzle. But our research highlights that there’s still a lack of clear focus and direction in most companies, which is resulting in lost time and money.

“Employees want clarity on how their work fits within the bigger picture and objectives of their firm, and to be effective they need that insight. Until greater clarity is provided the productivity conundrum is likely to remain.”

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