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Workers average only three productive days per week

The Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge (PPC), which drew responses from more than 38,000 people in 200 countries, rated workers’ individual productivity based on their responses to 18 statements about work-related practices. Worldwide, survey participants revealed some interesting conclusions about the nature of productivity in their workplace, including these (U.S. findings are in parentheses):

— People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive).

— More than half the participants, 55 per cent, said they relate their productivity directly to their software (U.S.: 61 percent).

— People spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings; 69 per cent feel meetings aren’t productive (U.S.: 5.5 hours; 71 per cent feel meetings aren’t productive).

— Only 34 per cent said they are using proven scheduling tools and techniques to help them gain more free time and balance in their lives. Likewise, 60 per cent said they don’t have work-life balance, and being unproductive contributes to this feeling. (U.S.: 31 percent said they are using proven scheduling tools and techniques; 66 percent said they don’t have work-life balance.)

— Women had an average productivity score of 72 percent, compared with 71 percent for men (U.S.: women, 70 percent; men, 68 percent).

— Workers said they receive an average of 42 e-mail messages per day (U.S.: 56).

— The most common productivity pitfalls are unclear objectives, lack of team communication and ineffective meetings — chosen by 32 per cent of respondents overall — followed by unclear priorities at 31 per cent and procrastination at 29 percent (U.S.: procrastination, 42 per cent; lack of team communication, 39 per cent; ineffective meetings, 34 per cent).

“In my three decades of studying what makes workers productive, I’ve found the most crucial skills are their ability to efficiently communicate across all kinds of boundaries, share important documents and manage the increasing volumes of information,” said Dr. Larry Baker, president of the Dr. Larry Baker Management Center Inc. in Atlanta and an associate professor at Shorter College in Marietta, Ga., who developed the survey questions. “These new survey results confirm those trends and highlight the opportunity for workers to get better training and tips on how to get the most out of software tools they use.”

That, of course, delights Microsoft, and its message that people can be more productive with its Office products

“With so many people saying they aren’t as productive as they could be and that they rely on technology to achieve their productivity goals, Microsoft has a great opportunity to provide the tools to help them quickly and effectively meet their needs,” said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president for the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft.

The findings for the survey were collected in 29 languages from participants in the Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge via their local Microsoft Office Experience Web sites from September 2004 through January 2005. Survey results were evaluated by ConStat Inc., an independent research analysis firm. The firm evaluated responses from 38,112 participants worldwide.

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