May 9, 2023 - Economy

Here's why you can't get any work done

Data: Microsoft; Chart: Axios Visuals

The day is over and you probably feel like you got what, one or two actual things done? So what've you been doing?

Why it matters: Most of us are getting more and more bogged down by the ancillary stuff required to do our jobs, and that can shrink the time we have to get real work done, increasing the risk of burnout.

  • That's one takeaway from a Microsoft study published today.

State of play: The company found that within its Microsoft 365 applications, people spend 57% of their time communicating in meetings, email and chat.

The big picture: "Over the course of the last three years, communication, collaboration and coordination [have] become a bigger part of our jobs," Jared Spataro, Microsoft's corporate vice president of modern work and business applications, tells Axios.

  • And "a lack of focus time, the search for information, and the volume of constant communications have an opportunity cost," the report concludes.

By the numbers: 68% of people surveyed say they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time.

  • 64% say they struggle with having the time and energy to do their job — and those people are 3.5 times more likely to also struggle with innovation and strategic thinking, according to the report.

Most leaders surveyed (60%) say they're already feeling the effects, noting that a lack of innovation or breakthrough ideas on their teams is a concern.

The intrigue: While some might assume that people want to dump the extra communication, workers told Microsoft that their "output is better" when they collaborate, Spataro says.

  • "It's just that if [workers are] not careful, it takes over everything else."

What to watch: As more companies institute return-to-office policies, in-person distractions and stress will return as well.

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