Efficiency rules- I like efficiency. I believe that people deserve fair pay for a fair day’s work and that most people go to work every day to do a good job; great even. Having managed a £52million staffing budget, I am really clear that efficient organisations pay people to deliver business results and that great talent is worth paying for. That a very small population of staff with overinflated egos can create great short term business results but with long term disastrous effects . There are also some who are plain lazy. But both of these groups are very few in number . I also believe that on the whole structures and norms in organisations create apathy and that too many meetings ought to be retitled Bored meetings.
In my 20s I had a belief that most people really ought to be chained to their desks at work and every fag break minute counted and docked off of their salary or made up but that’s because I spent too much time focused on time and motion studies in my CIPD post grad training. The whole philosophy of time and motion studies worked on the principle that people are a means of production and as such, like any piece of machinery in a manufacturing plant, the time spent with hands engaged on the job were what mattered most.
Business matters magazine has proposed that British workers cost employers billions in terms of wasted time. Really?
The folks over at Carnegie Mellon have shown that rapid toggling interruptions slow employees down by around 20%. But at the same time, the brain adapts to interruption and can actually increase productivity because of anticipated interruption. Carnegie Mellon has also shown that 2 minutes of distraction can improve decision taking. More importantly for business, is the fact that during seeming “down and distracted time” the brain continues to unconsciously process information. It is still dealing with work whilst the physical body appears to be engaged in a different activity.Work really is about engaing the head and the hands.
We spend too much time using only our eyes to judge efficiency in organisations. It’s an old model; the juice is in neuroscience and what is actually happening to our thinking when rapid toggling, fag breaks or Facebook distracts us. It seems we Humans are actually quite clever and can do one thing whilst mentally processing another. This differentiates us from machines and that is why time and motion type comparisons are a waste of time.
We do need to do something about the length and content meetings for the perpetually Bored however. Now that’s worth talking about………