by Sharon Florentine

Are Your Co-Workers Killing Your Productivity?

Sep 11, 20143 mins
CareersIT Leadership

No tech worker is an island. A recent productivity impact study reveals work efficiency is impacted negatively by co-workers.

frustrated tired bored unhappy worker productivity
Credit: Thinkstock

Feeling frustrated, stuck and unproductive at work? Blame your co-workers.

In a recent study by project management platform provider Taskworld, 50 percent of survey respondents said their performance and productivity at work was directly affected by their co-workers; 48 percent of respondents reported being frustrated by coworkers not meeting deadlines and 75 percent often find themselves waiting on co-workers to complete a work-related task.

Decline in Productivity Traced to Co-Workers’ Missed Deadlines

The 2014 Productivity Impact Study, conducted online within the United States between July 21 to July 27, 2014, surveyed 1,000 adults aged 18 and over, and found that nearly half attributed a decline in their productivity to deadlines missed by their colleagues. That decreased productivity also affected employees’ morale, motivation and satisfaction at work, according to the survey.

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“What we found is that people lose motivation when their colleagues don’t perform,” says Taskworld CEO Fred Mouawad. “It’s almost a ‘viral’ phenomenon,” he says.

According to the survey, 50 percent of respondents reported their coworkers’ performance affected their individual performance, and 48 percent of respondents noted they are often frustrated by coworkers not meeting deadlines.

Co-Workers’ Performance Impacts Everyone

“Their co-workers’ performance has a direct impact on their own productivity and motivation; if others are not meeting deadlines, are falling behind, then colleagues who are dependent on those deadlines being met and projects being delivered also lose productivity themselves,” says Mouawad.

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In this respect, Mouawad says, behaviors are “contagious;” and creates a vicious cycle in the workplace. If your colleagues are underperforming and missing deadlines, it can affect your ability to do the same, he says. On the flip side, if your colleagues are consistently meeting deadlines and performing well, it can motivate and inspire you to do the same, Mouawad says.

Project Management Software Can Boost Productivity

One of the major obstacles to productivity is a lack of frequent feedback, according to the survey, with 61 percent of respondents reporting that performance is only measured annually, meaning the opportunities for feedback and performance improvements are few and far between.

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“The missing piece to this is the opportunity to hold coworkers and teams more accountable with actionable feedback,” says Mouawad. Taskworld’s project management platform is one way to improve communication, collaboration and eliminate unnecessary meetings, ultimately saving time, he says.

“The survey showed that 19 percent of respondents were spending up to three additional hours each week following up on the status of projects and tasks, and 75 percent said they waited on coworkers often to complete a work-related task,” says Mouawad. That delays projects an average of one to three days; but with an online collaboration platform, some of that wait time and deadline pressure can be reduced, he says.

“When deadlines aren’t clear, when instructions and expectations are in disarray, that’s when projects get in trouble and productivity is impacted,” Mouawad says. “If you’re spending three hours a week in status meetings, you’re losing time that could be devoted to the actual project – and that’s why feedback is so important, too,” he says.

When workers know what they’re supposed to be doing, if they know what their progress is and how their colleagues are faring, they can make continuous improvements. The uncertainty is minimized, poor performance improves, communications are easier and faster, and overall people are both more productive and more satisfied,” he says.