Where does the time go? One often overlooked way your business could be hemorrhaging time
Time is everyone’s most perishable resource, and that’s never been more true than it is right now. The rise of on-demand services facilitated by technology, combined with increasingly busy lives, means that the pace of business is, quite literally, accelerating.
So when you’re looking at your business holistically, finding areas where you could be losing valuable time is essential. Some big time drains are obvious (hello unnecessary meetings) but others are harder to spot. The good news is that there are many tools at your disposal to help you make processes more efficient and boost productivity and revenue.
Although there are many areas where lack of efficiency could be affecting business, one that is harder to see than most is communication processes. This is probably because communication is such a basic, integral part of the workday that people don’t even think about it – like walking between your desk and the printer. Sure, you could move your printer closer, or come up with a batching system for printing, but the small gains in time saved don’t seem worth the effort.
In fact, inefficient communication accounts for a bigger drain on time and resources than you might realise. To see just how big, here are a few key stats.
According to the Email Statistics Report, the average number of emails sent and received is likely to soar to 140 per day in 2018, up from the current average of 121 per day. That’s despite the advent of tools such as instant messaging in the workplace.
This in itself is obviously a huge time investment, but it becomes a more egregious drain when you consider that a 2007 study showed that it takes around fifteen minutes to return to serious mental tasks after responding to an email or message. That means that for a good portion of the ninety-seven incoming emails on any given day, an additional fifteen minutes is lost on top of the time spent reading and replying.
In addition to that, a 2005 study at King’s College, London, showed that people distracted by emails and ringing phones perform worse in an IQ test than undistracted people, and alarmingly even do worse than people stoned on marijuana by an average of six points.
Phone calls also play a part in the time-consuming daily task of communicating with coworkers and clients. One in eight telephone calls at work have to be repeated because some information was forgotten, and that adds up when staff members are busy and every minute counts.
Putting this information together, the very real impact the inefficient use of email, phone, and IM can have on your team’s productivity, and the health of your business becomes clear.
‘Could you do Monday…?’
In fact, the time drain businesses experience when their communications are unwieldy can be startling. Appointedd’s own research into the process of scheduling appointments has showed that it takes an average of fifteen minutes to arrange an appointment, due to anything from missed calls to date clashing and rescheduling.
As CEO Leah Hutcheon explains in an interview for Business Cloud: “For bigger enterprise clients we can literally save them millions of pounds on their bottom line if the business is full of highly paid professionals arranging appointments. If the company saves fifteen minutes across however many appointments in a year when a consultant is being paid £500 an hour, it’s massive.”
That’s why real-time online booking for scheduling meetings, calls, and appointments can have such an impact on the way businesses manage their time and ultimately increase their revenue through improved productivity. When employees no longer need to be engaged in lengthy email exchanges or voicemail back-and-forth to arrange meetings, a significant portion of their time is freed up to dedicate to focused customer service, deep work, sales, or whatever their talents are best put to use on. On top of that, automated confirmations and reminders take much of the legwork out of scheduling with colleagues or customers.
How and when to communicate
Obviously, the answer to solving this is not to simply stop all communications within your business. That will, in fact, dramatically reduce productivity. The take-home here is that streamlining your internal and external comms should be a priority, not only for the sake of your bottom line but also for the sanity of your employees, who I can guarantee you would really rather not be processing 140 emails a day.
Automating essential comms wherever possible is the first port of call: anything that can be sent out hands-free should be. Then, go to the effort of putting processes in place for emailing, calling, instant messaging, and meetings. Decide which channel is best for what information.
It’s probably the case that your employees feel they have to reply to emails ASAP, when in reality emails are rarely urgent. By encouraging your team not to check emails throughout the day but to have dedicated emailing times between focused work times, you can reduce context-switching lag and gain more productive (and happier, less frazzled) team members.
As with all things, quality should really be taking precedence over quantity. Sometimes, having comms flying back and forth contributes to a buzz that feels like forward momentum. Actually, it might just be a distraction. When this background noise is removed from your business, you might be surprised at how much more you can do with the time you have.