A great many of the content and tools for employees are badly designed and managed because management does not respect employee time.
For salary-based workers it would seem like the world is going backwards. Longer and longer workweeks are being demanded by employers all in the name of productivity. But over 100 years ago, Frederick Taylor, the father of modern management, found that the longer you made people work, the less productive they became.
"There's been a flurry of coverage praising Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, for leaving the office every day at 5:30 p.m. to be with her kids," Geoffrey James writes for TIME in April 2012. "Apparently she's been doing this for years but only recently "came out of the closet," as it were. What's insane is that Sandberg felt the need to hide the fact, since there's a century of research establishing the undeniable fact that working more than 40 hours per week actually decreases productivity."
James goes on to state that, "In the early 1900s, Ford Motor Co. ran dozens of tests to seek the optimum hours for worker productivity. It discovered that the "sweet spot" is 40 hours a week - and that while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative."
Sara Robinson, in an article published in Salon magazine in March2012 stated that, "for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive - and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot."
"It's a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I'm about to say)," Robinson continues, "but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it's true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits - starting right now, today - is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing."
It is heresy to try and say to a typical manager that a good intranet will save time for employees. "The only time I care about is firing time," one manager boasted to me. "If you claim you can save time I want to turn it into man-years and then I want to find that man and fire him."
How has this sort of management thinking de-evolved? Nowhere is it better reflected than with the appalling digital workplaces that are forced on employees. Irony of ironies is that these places are supposed to make employees more productive.
I am optimistic that the tide will finally turn because the evidence is so overwhelming that productivity is enhanced by a well-motivated, wide awake and alert workforce, and you achieve that by working reasonable hours but working those hours as intelligently as possible. Frederick Taylor showed that he could dramatically increase productivity while at the same time REDUCING work hours.
How did he do that? By getting more out of less time. The intranet / digital workplace is currently a swamp of gross inefficiencies. It is ripe for a Taylor-like revolution.