How much time do we waste at work? Here are some provocative statistics:
According to Salary.com's 2014 Wasting Time at Work Survey, people rank meetings and conference calls as one of the biggest time sinks (right behind browsing the Internet).
PC Magazine cites an OfficeTime.net survey of 1300 people who place email at the top of the list.
And this infographic from Mashable says "trying to contact customers or colleagues" is the biggest time stealer with people wasting 74 minutes per day on this activity, followed by people wasting 67 minutes per day trying to find key information.
Meetings, email, customers/colleagues, info and data—they're all things we need to deal with in order to do our jobs, but like everything else in life, moderation is key. The question is, how can we encourage and practice this needed moderation? That's where a collaboration system comes in.
1. Collaboration systems promote equal access.
You've probably heard the expression "the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing." This pithy adage sums up what can happen in organizations plagued by silo mentalities, where people and departments are compartmentalized and kept separate from one another. You're working on project X, and for all you know, someone down the hall might be as well. That's a problem.
Collaboration systems aim to solve this problem by encouraging equal access—access to people, to customers, to data, even to email threads. When everyone has the same access to information, suddenly the guesswork is gone (e.g. "Has someone else taken care of this?"). This decreases wasted time and boosts productivity.
2. Collaboration systems are liberating—literally.
Today's collaboration systems live in the cloud, which means work-life balance can be an actual thing. What if you want to dash to your child's 4:00 soccer game, but you haven't finished updating records or finishing a document or reviewing a spreadsheet? Almost all of today's collaboration systems, like Fanhub, live in the cloud, meaning you can access it anywhere and from any device, as long as you have an Internet connection. Talk about freeing!
As a result, work no longer needs to happen in the once revered 9-5 timeframe in a physical office. Instead, finish the work on your schedule (still on time, of course!) and know that because you're using a collaboration system, people will have access to the work they need from you (and you from them). Work from home, the airport, the office, the local coffee shop—whatever environment is conducive to getting the job done.
And who knows—you might actually end up working fewer but more productive hours. That's not a bad deal considering most employees admit spending a fair amount of time on non-activities at work.
3. Collaboration systems reduce redundancies.
Duplicating efforts is such a huge problem in so many organizations that we devoted a whole article just to this topic. The short of it goes like this: the best collaboration systems, like a quality CRM, can provide that all-important 360-degree view of everything that's going on—job assignments, deadlines, open issues, closed issues, urgent matters (just to name a few). By having one central hub with a dashboard that provides the "big picture," you can eliminate redundancies, which also saves time and money.
4. Collaboration systems can reduce the need for meetings.
Now, let us be clear: collaboration systems won't eliminate all meetings, but they can reduce many of those "check-in" meetings that clog our calendars.
Instead of checking in during a physical meeting or conference call to provide status updates, wouldn't it be better if people simply used a collaboration system to see what's what, like the sales pipeline, open issues (or "cases," as we refer to them at Fanhub), recently closed issues, new projects (or "spaces")? Of course it would! The beauty of collaboration systems is that they show real-time snapshots of the big picture and all the nitty-gritty details, so essentially you get the macro and micro view, all in one neat package, which means you can say buh-bye to endless status meetings once and for all.
What are the biggest time sinks in your office? How do you combat them? Share with us!