Leading recruitment company, Randstad has issued the results of a brand new survey of 2,000 workers in Britain that sought to investigate the growing issue of multi-tasking. While many of us see multi-taking as the ideal way to gain some sort of control over our never-ending to-do lists, this way of working is actually having a detrimental impact on our IQ levels and professional performance, and Randstad thinks it’s time we did something about it.
One billion working days lost to multi-tasking every year
Findings revealed that 45% of those polled agreed they have to cope with more multi-tasking requirements in their working lives today than they did two or three years ago, while a mere 16% experienced less. This means nearly 90% of Brits are now operating in roles where multi-tasking is an innate part of the job description but Randstad’s research also conceded that this is costing the country’s workers 120 minutes a day, ten hours a week and one billion working days every year.
This situation appears to be particularly rife in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, where workers are expected to carry out two or three different tasks simultaneously. These responsibilities commonly include checking social media feeds, tending to emails and writing reports. However, Randstad’s investigations revealed that it can take an excess of 20 minutes to regain momentum following any given interruption, which means multi-tasking is having serious consequences on the efficiency of the country’s workforce.
Randstad UK CEO, Mark Bull said: “Multi-tasking is becoming an increasingly important part of people’s working lives – 70% of employers tell us they regard it as important.
“That’s a problem because we all pay a cognitive price when we multi-task – we deplete our mental energy every time we jump from one activity to another – and that price is soaring as multi-tasking becomes more prevalent in the workplace. The consequences are surprisingly serious when you take into account the amount of time it takes us to regain our flow following another interruption.”
He added: “If they saw how it impaired their IQ and how much time they were losing when they drop everything and switch activities and had to restart tasks, people would be more likely to look for, and adopt, solutions – especially in top-end job markets like Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London where the demands are largest.
“The problem is employees don’t necessarily appreciate how hard multitasking can degrade their clarity of thought.”
Turn off, log out and tune in
Due to this concern for depleting productivity and dwindling IQ levels, leaders at Randstad are urging British employees to implement vital precautionary measures that will help them limit the amount of time they spend multi-tasking. They suggest that distancing oneself from any form of temptation is the perfect place to start and this can be achieved by becoming proactive in things like turning phones off when not in use and logging out of social media profiles when they aren’t required.
Bull said: “Going off-grid for half an hour will boost your productivity – it’s easier to concentrate when you’re not continuously fending off mental cravings to check your phone or have a look at your Twitter feed. Alternatively, you can read reports, articles and other documents one after another.
“Book in meetings back to back. And, if possible, try limiting email to two or three set times instead of responding to them the moment they arrive. Of course, that still won’t stop colleagues interrupting you – but it’s a start.”
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