Transform Your Company's Productivity

Google CEO Sundar Pichai made waves a few weeks ago when he announced a company all-hands meeting that productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be.

According to Pichai:

There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have. [We need to] create a culture that is more mission-focused, more focused on our products, more customer-focused. We should think about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar on both product excellence and productivity.

Of course, there are questions to be had: What is productivity? How is it measured internally? And, how does Wall Street's version of productivity (e.g., how efficiently physical capital is being used to create goods or services) compare to the shared definitions by employees?

All that being said, there is one way that every single company can improve its productivity, regardless of its internal definition.

Bold claim, I know.

But if we think of productivity at its core as: "being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services." (Yes, that's from the dictionary.) Then we can start investigating: what is preventing employees from being able to generate, and create.

For clues, we can start by understanding how a typical employee spends their time today. According to Asana's Anatomy of Work Report, the majority of workers' time is spent on "work about work"—"activities such as communicating about work, searching for information, switching between apps, managing shifting priorities, and chasing status updates."

Only 40% of the time is spent on skilled or strategic work, which workers are hired for, and generally ladder up to productivity.

To start addressing the productivity issue, you need to dive into the largest slices of the pie chart—"work about work." What types of communication and priority shifts are necessary, versus which ones could be prevented through better processes and time management?

Asana believes there's a lot of room for improvement. According to their analysis, in one year, nearly 13 40-hour weeks (that's ~3 months) of an employee's time could be deleted (with no impact on outputs) or reallocated (with hopefully an increased impact on outputs).

"... every week workers are losing an average of nearly three hours on unnecessary meetings. Every day, they are bombarded with 32 emails. Every hour, their attention is fractured between disconnected tools and having to constantly switch between them.

Work about work is an entrenched part of modern organizations and is still the biggest barrier to productivity— one that organizations shouldn’t take lightly. Too many workers are stuck in this black hole, sucked into a world of small tasks that add up to an enormous burden."


Okay, so what can you do?

You can't change the entire system you work in overnight, even if you're the CEO of Google. But you can start by leaning into your curiosity and actually evaluating how you spend your time.

At Remote Works, we recommend running a meeting audit with your team.

Meeting Audit How-To: Review all the meetings you and your team have on the calendar for the past two weeks (a month if you’d like an accurate snapshot). For each meeting, note whether it was needed and how you could change the cadence, length, or attendees to reduce the meeting burden. Then, experiment with changes in the upcoming week. You might get an hour or two back in your week you deserve!

If that works, try other audits and diary studies. How often is your team duplicating tasks? What processes and tasks take a lot of time but without much real value?

Once you start questioning the status quo, we're positive you'll land on some interesting insights that can enable you to cut some of that "work about work" time and start generating the work you were hired to do!

Download the 2022 Report here: