Survey Finds Workers Average Only Three Productive Days per Week
March 15, 2005
Most Respondents to New Microsoft Office Survey Say They're Working Longer, But Are Less Productive; They Relate Their Productivity to Technology

REDMOND, Wash., March 15, 2005 — Unclear objectives, lack of team communication and ineffective meetings are among the top time wasters that workers around the world say make them feel unproductive for as much as a third of their workweek on average, according to results of an online Microsoft® Office survey announced today. Survey respondents also said that, as they grapple with the need to work longer hours and the desire for better work-life balance, they rely heavily on technology tools to help optimize their personal and team productivity.

The Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge (PPC), which drew responses from more than 38,000 people in 200 countries, rated workers' individual productivity based on their responses to 18 statements about work-related practices. Worldwide, survey participants revealed some interesting conclusions about the nature of productivity in their workplace, including these (U.S. findings are in parentheses):

  • People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive).

  • More than half the participants, 55 percent, said they relate their productivity directly to their software (U.S.: 61 percent).

  • People spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings; 69 percent feel meetings aren't productive (U.S.: 5.5 hours; 71 percent feel meetings aren't productive).

  • Only 34 percent said they are using proven scheduling tools and techniques to help them gain more free time and balance in their lives. Likewise, 60 percent said they don't have work-life balance, and being unproductive contributes to this feeling. (U.S.: 31 percent said they are using proven scheduling tools and techniques; 66 percent said they don't have work-life balance.)

  • Women had an average productivity score of 72 percent, compared with 71 percent for men (U.S.: women, 70 percent; men, 68 percent).

  • Workers said they receive an average of 42 e-mail messages per day (U.S.: 56).

  • The most common productivity pitfalls are unclear objectives, lack of team communication and ineffective meetings -- chosen by 32 percent of respondents overall -- followed by unclear priorities at 31 percent and procrastination at 29 percent (U.S.: procrastination, 42 percent; lack of team communication, 39 percent; ineffective meetings, 34 percent).

Microsoft Corp. developed the PPC assessment as a way for workers to evaluate their work habits and receive tips on how to be more productive in their day-to-day activities. Dr. Larry Baker, president of the Dr. Larry Baker Management Center Inc. in Atlanta and an associate professor at Shorter College in Marietta, Ga., developed the survey questions.

"In my three decades of studying what makes workers productive, I've found the most crucial skills are their ability to efficiently communicate across all kinds of boundaries, share important documents and manage the increasing volumes of information," Baker said. "These new survey results confirm those trends and highlight the opportunity for workers to get better training and tips on how to get the most out of software tools they use. Clearly, this is a focus area for Microsoft where it can help people be more productive with the Office products."

With increasing workplace demands and people relying more heavily on technology tools to help them stay on task, it is clear why survey participants identified the following work arrangements as helpful in increasing their productivity:

  • They are able to quickly find electronic documents when they need them.

  • Features such as a spam filter help them manage their e-mail more effectively.

  • They provide advice, rather than taking on other people's responsibilities.

  • Using technology is a major factor in their ability to manage time efficiently.

"It's exciting to see that so many people around the world took the Personal Productivity Challenge and shared their feedback about the productivity issues they're facing today in the new world of work," said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president for the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft. "With so many people saying they aren't as productive as they could be and that they rely on technology to achieve their productivity goals, Microsoft has a great opportunity to provide the tools to help them quickly and effectively meet their needs."

Microsoft Office System technologies are designed to address a broad array of productivity challenges highlighted in the PPC findings, such as e-mail control, document management, information sharing, team collaboration and remote connectivity. These productivity tools can be found at the Microsoft Office Experience Web site ( http://www.microsoft.com/office/evolve ), which provides a one-stop gateway to comprehensive product demonstrations, free product trials, articles, tips and tricks, and in-depth training materials for the Microsoft Office System. Another Web site, Microsoft Office Tools for Your Job (available only in the United States, at http://www.microsoft.com/occupations ), provides additional industry-specific tips, advice and templates to help those in the general work force gain fast access to practical advice and ideas on using Microsoft Office to complete their daily tasks.

About the PPC

The findings for the survey were collected in 29 languages from participants in the Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge via their local Microsoft Office Experience Web sites from September 2004 through January 2005. Survey results were evaluated by ConStat Inc., an independent research analysis firm. The firm evaluated responses from 38,112 participants worldwide.

About the Microsoft Office System

The Microsoft Office System is an easy way to help more people use information to positively impact their business. Through a system of familiar and easy-to-use programs, servers, services and solutions, users can connect people and organizations to information, business processes and each other -- helping ensure that they derive the most value out of information. The Microsoft Office System consists of the 2003 editions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003, Microsoft Office Project and Project Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Microsoft Office FrontPage® 2003, Microsoft Office InfoPath® 2003, Microsoft Office OneNote® 2003, Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 and Microsoft Office Visio® 2003. Enabling technologies, such as Microsoft Windows® SharePoint Services and Microsoft Windows Server (TM) 2003, enhance the features and functionality of products in the Microsoft Office System.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, SharePoint, FrontPage, InfoPath, OneNote, Visio, Windows and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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