What’s happening in the world of work in 2016? To answer that question, I reviewed the U.S. State of Enterprise Work Report from Workfront. Here are some of the highlights from the report. I’ve also provided links to resources to help you become more productive, get better at meetings and get ahead.
Overall Trends For U.S. Office Workers
Here are some of the data points from the survey that stood out to me. I was most surprised by the short lunch breaks that people tend to take. A rest in the middle of the day is a valuable way to refresh yourself and take on more activities in the rest of the day.
- 95% of workers experience conflict with other teams (compared to 81% in 2014). This finding underscores the importance of understanding Conflict Management Techniques From the PMBOK Guide.
- The top reasons people work according to the report: Pay the bills (76%), mental challenge (27%), fulfill my goals (21%), learn new skills to grow my career (14%).
- The top motivational factors at work according to the survey: Chance for bonus and/or higher salary (29%), appreciation/recognition from superiors (22%), promotions and/or opportunities to advance my professional skills (18%), reaching or exceeding goals (14%)
- 45.1 hours. That’s the average amount of hours worked for office workers according to the survey (a small increase over 2015)
- Only 24% of office workers take a full 60 minutes for lunch. That’s unfortunate. You can develop your career with a strategic lunch hour: 6 Strategies to Advance Your Career in 60 Minutes.
- 9-11am: Time period reported as being the most productive. In contrast, the least productive time period is 3-5pm.
- “Wasteful meetings” are the top barrier to getting work done (that’s why you need 7 Habits of Highly Effective Meetings).
- Email and spreadsheets are the most popular work tools for office workers
- Sources of conflict. Conflicting priorities (28%) and lack of communication (36%) are reported as the top sources of conflict. For more on conflict, read my previous post “33 Conflict Management Resources For Project Managers.”
Trends For Project Managers
What findings does the report have for the work of projects? Here are four data points from the survey.
Meetings are an important tool in the project manager’s toolbox. Yet, many people perceive meetings as wasteful. Given this finding, it is more important than ever to design and run effective meetings that make decisions and move projects forward.
- Keep meetings to a minimum. — 59% of U.S. workers surveyed said wasteful meetings are the biggest hindrance to productivity. For project managers looking to stay on top of timelines and get the most quality work out of their team members, it’s important to know which meetings are necessary and how you can execute meetings that don’t waste your team’s time. Use meetings to discuss resolutions and next steps in the project, not rehash tasks or processes that are already known or completed.
- Resource: Apply 8 Ways To Contribute To Meetings to make your next meeting better.
Email is a highly popular and flexible tool. Yet, poor email habits slow many of us down. Part of the problem is a lack of productivity and task management system.
- According to the State of Work report, 43% of survey respondents said answering and organizing email is a major distraction from assigned projects, and I think we all feel that pain. Project managers should work with the decision-makers in their department to identify useful tools and resources that can bring collaboration and communication into a central hub. This lets email act as the venue for immediate needs or new interactions with external sources (a necessary evil), and the collaboration tool is used for all comments, input and revisions to actual work. In addition being a collaboration and communications hub, it can also be used to track team bandwidth and resource management.
- Resource: Looking to improve your productivity with software? Get started by reading 10 Apps For Highly Productive Project Managers.
There is a major productivity improvement opportunity available. Consider the following observation:
- 92% of survey respondents said they feel productive at their jobs. Given the fact that only 39% of our time is spent on our primary job duties, that’s a good sign project managers are succeeding at guiding team members in the right direction through what might be heavy-workload weeks. However, it may also mean teams are perceiving a higher level of productivity than they are actually performing. Taking the time to evaluate processes, tools and traditional components to project management may pay off in output and avoiding burnout in the long run.
Power tools for PM success —
- 70% of workers either already use a project management tool or would like to. For any size team, a project management tool has become as vital as a computer. Even for a sole proprietor, logging hours and assets against that work is made so much more efficient through a project management tool. Every team has different needs, and it’s important to reflect inward before researching the available tools that meet those needs. Project managers are the drivers of those conversations, as they know their team’s challenges and talents, preferences and dislikes better than anyone else in the company.