Businesses Waste Time on Essential but Unproductive Tasks: Survey

The survey found small business workers are stymied by unproductive tasks like sorting through spam e-mail.

Knowledge workers at small to midsize businesses spend 50 percent of their workday on necessary, yet unproductive tasks, including routine communications, and filtering incoming information and correspondence, according to the findings of a new report released by Fonality and conducted by Webtorials.

The report also showed that knowledge workers are one of the largest staff components in a typical SMB and they spend an estimated 36 percent of their time trying to contact customers, partners or colleagues, find information and schedule meetings. Approximately 14 percent of SMB knowledge workers said their time is spent duplicating information such as forwarding e-mail or phone calls to confirm if a fax/e-mail/text message was received and managing unwanted communications like spam e-mail or unsolicited time-wasting phone calls.

"No one has examined the impact of inefficient communications on small and midsize business, and the findings are not only stunning, but they point to a need for immediate change," said Steve Taylor, editor-in-chief and publisher for Webtorials. "We found that reducing a knowledge worker's unproductive time by 25 percent can yield an extra six weeks in productivity each year, per employee, which should be an immediate call to action for business owners."

The study concludes that UC (unified communications), especially cloud-based with its lower total cost of ownership, could eliminate much of this productivity shortfall. For example, efficiencies created by UC on a typical firm with 50 knowledge workers with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $110,000 can recover two-hours a day in productivity. The corresponding dollar amount of this time savings is valued at approximately $950,000 annually, according to the report.

Through examination of two related IT capabilities, UC and cloud-based services, the report concluded each individually brings "tremendous power" to companies of all sizes. However, many of the strongest advantages of implementing UC have eluded SMBs because of the cost of having the IT staff to support this effort. Bringing the two together-implementing UC as a cloud-based service-provides an ideal confluence for cost-conscious businesses, the survey results indicated.

"For more than a decade, SMBs have produced two-thirds of North America's jobs, but due to the cost and complexity of traditional legacy solutions, they have not been able to benefit from the same communications tools as Fortune 500 companies," said Dean Mansfield, president and CEO of Fonality, a small-business communications company. "Now, the emerging intersection of cloud technologies, with mobility applications and Unified Communications, makes it possible for businesses of all sizes to share information faster and more effectively than ever."