Most Common Productivity Killers in the Workplace – Week 2

Last week, we visited our blog to discuss two of the most notorious productivity killer in the workplace – meetings and surfing the internet.

This week, we look at two more:


  1. Email.

If you thought surfing the web was distracting and costly, it can’t really compare at all to the damage wreaked by emails; that friendly modern office constant. We spend on average 37 per cent or 13 whole hours of our work week checking emails. Unnecessary emails and email checking causes businesses losses of around $605 billion annually.

Checking email constantly can be somewhat of an obsessive compulsive tic, even bordering on a disorder for some. Just like web surfing and the lure of social media, email can function as a ‘productive’ distraction as we try to get through a piece of work that requires more focus. Getting around the problem can be tricky.

The first step would be to use a few relatively few days to go through them all, keep what you need and delete the rest. Clear out your trash and work towards that mythical goal of Inbox Zero (It’s not impossible to achieve!). After you get to Inbox Zero you can then start actively managing your email efficiently.

First, avoid checking your inbox all the time. Conventional wisdom advices you to avoid checking email early in the morning as well, as it messes up your focus for the day. When you do check your inbox periodically, make sure you address each of the emails as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Write short, to-the-point responses. And don’t put off responding for later if it’s possible to respond now.

Frontier recently switched to a new work management system called Asana. It has seriously cut down on the amount of email we send internally as all work related communication is carried out on Asana’s clean, efficient platform. Our email is now restricted to additional information and peripheral areas: Clearing up valuable room that ensures cleaner client communications.

  1. Travelling and Commuting.

The most obvious of the four. Yet how many companies have taken active steps to counter the copious amounts of time employees waste getting to and from work? The study estimates that the average commuter spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic. In Sri Lanka and especially Colombo with the rush hour road blocks intensifying, that number is probably much more.

Telecommuting, i.e. offering employees the opportunity to also work from home is an option many firms consider. At Frontier we have taken things to the next level. Completely abolishing fixed working hours altogether, we only require our team to step into office for meetings, or if they genuinely want to come in and use the premises as a place to work.

How do we get any work done with such a flexible schedule? Being a productive and efficient organisation under any form of cultural context requires constant attention and planning. We have systems like Asana in place to manage workflow and reward our employees strictly on an output basis and not on work hours put in or ‘face time’. So far the system has functioned beautifully and a flexible culture is in fact something that stands at the core of Frontier’s purpose of existence.


And there you have it – the most notorious productivity killers at work!

Visit our blog for a recap of all four and check out this handy infographic for a time efficient summary!

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

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