Ineffective software and poor processes are hindering productivity for many workers, according to new research from Pegasystems.

In a study of live desktop activity, the results showed employees are forced to switch between up to 35 job-critical applications nearly once a minute – or more than 1,100 times every day –  adding unnecessary complexity that reduces efficiency and frustrates workers.

Pega analysed nearly 5 million hours of desktop activity of operational support employees – who primarily perform routine back office, data entry, or contact centre tasks – at global 2000 companies from January to September 2018. The data revealed two main areas blocking employees from achieving optimal productivity and job satisfaction:

Inefficient applications and processes: Businesses typically provide operational support workers with a number of ‘structured applications’ that are specifically designed to help them speed through core tasks with minimal typing and scrolling. But the study found workers are saddled with too many of these disconnected apps, leading to poor processes, increased errors, and wasted actions that could otherwise be automated:

  • On average, workers perform 134 ‘copy and paste’ actions each day – highlighting how often employees must switch between applications using same data to complete a task.
  • Employees commit 845 keying errors per day or once out of every 14 key strokes, which shows the potential to automate more of their workflow to reduce manual mistakes.
  • Only 28 per cent of active work time is spent in structured applications versus free-form software like spreadsheets or word processing apps, suggesting that structured applications aren’t adequate enough to do the job alone.

Distractions from core work: From digital distractions to extraneous activities, there are many events over the course of the day that take workers’ attention away from productive tasks:

  • Workers check their email 10 times per hour, or once every six minutes, throughout the course of their day.
  • Employees spend 13 per cent of their time in email, of which only 23 per cent is spent on value-generating work.
  • People who work longer shifts typically make nine per cent more errors than those on shorter shifts, demonstrating how attention spans drift over a long work day.

The study also reveals several other interesting dynamics, including:

  • Employees make the most mistakes on Tuesdays, which had 22 per cent more errors per employee vs. Friday, the least error prone day of the week.
  • Error rates are 50 per cent higher when working in unstructured applications such as email, the application where the most errors occur.
  • Workers multitasking between 30 applications or more in a single shift have a 28 per cent higher error rate than those using fewer apps.

“Many organisations instinctively try to solve process issues and improve employee productivity by throwing more software at the problem without truly understanding the root cause of their inefficiencies,” said Don Schuerman, CTO, Pegasystems.

“Business leaders must step back and analyse their business processes to ensure they enable employees to do their best work while providing customers with the best possible experience. By streamlining these processes and eliminating repetitive tasks, companies can give employees the right tools they need to succeed and be happier in their jobs.”

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