Is Technology Counterproductive?

In the past twenty years, office technology has come a long way. The increase in technology has contributed to a boost in office productivity and information flow. However, productivity development has declined significantly since 2007. This lack of development was partially due to the financial crisis. The lack of growth is also due to constant investments that ultimately lead to a decrease in benefits. At some point investing in new office technology becomes counterproductive. A manager has to really think, will these technology improvements help my business get things done?
Overtime, as the cost of communication has dwindled, the number of connections has increased exponentially. Over twenty years ago, when managers would receive a call while they were gone from the office, they received pink slips from their receptionist. A successful manager may have received twenty slips a day, or roughly six thousand a year. Later, voicemail was created and the cost of leaving a message dropped and the amount of messages increased. Now with the creation of email, instant messaging, and social media, the cost of communication to a larger audience is next to nothing. Today, the average number of messages received by a successful manager is fifty thousand a year. Even meetings have experienced the same alteration as messages. Back in the day, it was challenging to set up a meeting with six managers. Back then, assistants had to check schedules and calendars. With the creation of office software, the cost of creating a meeting had dwindled. Thus the number of meetings and number of people attending meetings has increased. Nearly twenty percent of companies’ time is spent in meetings and this percentage continues to increase.

A typical mid-level manager works around 50 hours a week. These managers dedicate around twenty hours to meetings with more than four people and an additional ten hours to email. Therefore, these managers have under twenty hours a week to complete their other work. Those twenty hours doesn’t include the bathroom breaks, lunches, and the “quick” smartphone checks for Facebook and such. With the all the wasted time adding up, a manager had only six and a half hours of productive work a week. While technology has provided some boosts in productivity in the office, we may be advancing to the point of diminishing returns.

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