It’s Business. Take it Personally

Technology has made our personal lives easier than ever. So why has it turned us into task rabbits in the office?

On any given day, the average employee spends nearly 65 percent of their time on busy work and in meetings, 20 percent searching for information and just 15 percent doing what they want and are paid to do. Why? Because technology that was supposed to streamline work has only made it more complex.

As consumers, we rely on things like Instagram and Uber to organize and manage our lives. And with a single click, we can accomplish what we set out to do. Then we get to the office and these streamlined and personalized experiences are replaced with company-issued technology that is cumbersome to use, slows us down, continually interrupts us, and keeps us from doing meaningful work.

Busy Work isn’t Working

Think about it. How many apps do you use in the course of a typical day to get work done? Probably more than a dozen — and often four or more just to complete a single business process like submitting expenses, booking travel, submitting purchase orders or approving time off that isn’t core to what you do.

How much time do you spend each day searching for data and insights you need to do what we are actually paid — and want to do? If you’re like most, at least 20 percent. And how often are you interrupted by a text, chat, or other alert? Research suggests about 1,100 times, or every two minutes.

When you add it all up, that leaves just 1.2 hours of uninterrupted time a day to focus on value-creating work. And that isn’t working for most employees.

They’re frustrated and disengaged. According to Gallup, a whopping 87 percent of employees around the world are not engaged at work. And they’re starting to burnout. The World Health Organization has officially recognized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.” And Gallup says two thirds of all full-time workers have experienced it on the job.

Business IS Personal

There’s an old saying that goes “it’s business, don’t take it personally.” And it needs to go. Work today is more personal than ever.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we operate. We rarely visit physical stores anymore. We shop online and have the things we want and need delivered to our doorsteps. We don’t use cash or checks, we PayPal or Venmo. And we have digital assistants who know and can do things for us. “Hey, Siri!”

All of this has changed the way employees view work — and their expectations for the technology used to get it done. They don’t want to be hemmed in by enterprise applications that require multiple passwords and force them to navigate a host of different interfaces to execute a simple task. They want to press a single button like the do at home and move on.

Simple Wins

The technology is out there to make this possible. Businesses just need to bring it in and rethink the way they make it available. Rather forcing apps and processes on people, companies need to take a user-centric approach that puts the individual first and makes it easy for them to interact with all of the different channels they need — and prefer — to use to get things done. In doing so, they can remove noise and time sucking tasks from their day and free them to focus on meaningful work.

Just like the web came about to organize the world’s information and apps came about to organize the web, digital workspaces are emerging to organize, guide and automate work in an intelligent and personal way that companies can use to:

  • Automate repetitive, valueless tasks.
  • Extract the most pertinent tasks and insights from systems of record and deliver them in intelligent feeds to individual users on any device or channel.
  • Create single-purpose steps to simplify the execution of mundane tasks such as filing expenses, requesting time off and submitting purchase orders, among other things.
  • Build personal workflows around individual employees with context and smarts so they can spend less time on menial tasks and focus on meaningful work.

Imagine an intelligent “work feed” where, much like the news feeds we use to curate our personal lives, the tasks employees need to get done automatically pop up on whatever device they happen to be using, along with insights that can help them execute things quickly and move on. With the right digital workspace, they can be a reality.

Complex Kills

Many companies are already on board, using intelligent digital workspace solutions to create a highly personalized experience that enables employees to be their most productive and use the special skills they were hired for to create value for the company.

But more need to join them. Today’s employees are burdened with navigating a complex technology ecosystem full of hundreds of apps, constant distracting notifications and cumbersome technology and are simply are not equipped with the tools they need to focus to do their best work. And business it’s killing business, costing some $7 trillion in lost productivity, turnover, and worker frustration.

Employees today demand the freedom to work when, where and how they want. And in the tightest labor market the world has ever seen, they officially have the upper hand. Companies need to recognize that work has changed and create digital environments that enable them to get the right people in the right places to unlock innovation, engage customers and move their business forward.

The stakes are too high not to.

Tim Minahan is the executive vice president, business strategy and chief marketing officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.

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