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Report Finds Workers Losing Critical Focus to Meetings, Emails

The modern ease of communication has led to overwhelming consumptions of work time.

May 15, 2023

According to software company Microsoft’s recently released Work Trend Index Annual Report, the modern ease of communication has resulted in a loss of critical focus at work.

In its report, 68% of those surveyed said that they lacked uninterrupted focus time at work. For the average employee using Microsoft 365 apps, most of the workday (57%) is spent communicating, via meetings, email, and chat. The other 43% is spent creating information to be shared, via documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

The heaviest email users (top 25%) spend 8.8 hours a week on email, while the heaviest meeting users (top 25%) spend 7.5 hours a week in meetings. Assuming an eight-hour workday, these statistics translate to more than two workdays a week spent solely on emails and in meetings.

The study cited the following five top obstacles to work productivity:

  1. Inefficient meetings
  2. Lack of clear goals
  3. Too many meetings
  4. Feeling uninspired
  5. Not easily finding necessary information.

Since February 2020, people attend three times more Teams virtual meetings and calls per week (192%). Within virtual meetings, 58% said they find it difficult to brainstorm, and 57% had trouble catching up if they entered the meeting late; 55% found next steps at the end of the meetings to be unclear, and 56% said it wasn’t easy to summarize what happened within the meeting. Only 1 in 3 people (35%) thought they would be missed if they didn’t attend many of their meetings.

The study suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) could be the solution to time-sucking meetings, with the recommendation of AI-powered intelligent meeting recaps, transcripts, and recordings. It also notes that employees would be eager to give it a try. While 49% of participants said they’re worried that AI will replace their jobs, even more—70%—would use AI as much as possible to reduce their workloads.

“It’s fascinating that people are more excited about AI rescuing them from burnout than they are worried about it eliminating their jobs,” author and organizational psychology professor Adam Grant stated in the report.

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