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April 14, 2020 4 min read

The high productivity level is one of the major goals that many people strive to achieve. If this goal was easier to reach a decade ago, it’s becoming harder and harder to reach is the current’s technology-driven and distraction-packed world. Even if you already achieved your peak productivity, you might be looking for ways to keep your team highly productive.

When it comes to productivity though, there’s a paradox that can negatively affect you or your team in the long run. What’s the productivity paradox? Why does it happen? How can you prevent it? Read on to find the answers to your questions.

What’s the productivity paradox?

The productivity paradox is a counterintuitive concept that may be the biggest obstacle to efficiency. The concept states that the more investments you make into the information technology of the business, the higher the chance that your or your team’s productivity will reduce rather than increase.

A lot of managers and successful entrepreneurs make enormous IT investments to aid in streamlining the working processes in the company and encourage employees to work more efficiently. They buy the latest equipment for the office, transfer the company’s systems to the cloud or new servers, and switch to the latest software in order to boost the productivity level in the company. In reality, productivity gradually reduces and results in the rapid company’s recession.

Whether we want it or not, we come to the office, switch on our computers, and all we see is hundreds of unread messages, new assignments, and let’s not forget, social media feeds. We tend to spend hours doing a fake job instead of doing a real job. And then, when we eventually start doing those projects, new notifications pop up and you feel overwhelmed, stressed, drained, and tired. You’re tired not because of doing your project. You’re tired because you waste your energy on the tasks that don’t deserve your attention.

A report provided by the New York-based research firm Basex stated that 28% of an employee’s time is wasted because of recovery time or interruptions. That’s around $900 billion in reduced employee productivity in just one year.

Why does the productivity paradox happen?

There are 4 possible causes for the productivity paradox, such as mismanagement, time lags, redistribution, and mis-measurement. Mismanagement is when the productivity levels drop due to the troubles in managing information or IT. Time lags are characterized by the gains that take ages to appear. Redistribution involves private gains that appear thanks to other individuals and companies, leaving small net gain. Mis-measurement is about real gains that we tend to miss.

Many entrepreneurs and business experts believe that working hard can also be a reason for the productivity paradox growth. The majority of employers encourage their employees to work as harder as possible, without realizing that they’re slowly ruining their team’s spirit and the company itself.

Working hard increases the outputs, albeit inputs can go up, as well. In this case, productivity stays unchanged. Even if there are some changes, they might be so insignificant and small that you won’t notice it. Investing large sums of money isn’t the way out, either.

The latest technological improvements aren’t widespread when compared to their predecessors. For instance, the electrification and internal combustion engine had a host of benefits on the whole economy. But we can’t say the same about the ICT advances, which existed in the past.

Is it possible to avoid the productivity paradox?

Nowadays, it’s a hard question to answer. Depending on whether you’re an employer or an employee, you can learn to control productivity and ward off its paradox. The first most effective way to avoid the productivity paradox is by learning how to work smarter, not harder. It means you should learn how to analyze the processes and alter the techniques and technologies that aid in receiving more output from the very same input. Regardless of your long to-do list, working hard won’t boost your productivity but only reduce your energy.

Another critical aspect to understand is that your company can quickly become an invisible prisoner of its own money-saving measures. A lot of productivity programs state that reducing costs is the most effective way to get better from those competitors who sell cheaper services or products on today’s market. In the end, those competitors will set goals that will make them reduce costs and expenses by all means.

If you want to avoid the productivity paradox, you should focus on the real objective and long-term considerations rather than short-term ones. In other words, look at the bigger picture. Stop spending so much time searching for shortcuts and innovation.

Extreme cost cutting measures might trigger flexibility loss as well as create constraints that might suppress your growth. Making any product or service changes might become a problem and you might face a variety of problems while developing new programs.

Despite all the benefits of modern technology, it’s well-known that smartphones and laptops are the biggest productivity reducers these days. The more you upgrade technology, the more distractions you create. At the same time, outdated technologies might not bring any use to your company. What’s the way out? Well, finding the happy medium can make a huge difference in your and your team’s productivity.

Little steps should be taken in order to ward off the productivity paradox and enhance productivity in your office. If you feel like the paradox is affecting your own productivity level, changing your daily habits and an attitude to technology can improve your efficiency.

 

Everything You Need to Know about the Productivity Paradox Final Thought

The productivity paradox is hard to understand and even harder to avoid. Despite a popular belief that computerization itself helps to increase the company’s productivity, it can actually reduce it. Even if you upgrade your company following the happy medium rule, don’t expect the results overnight. If you’re adding the new technology to your business, make sure the person who is going to use it is well aware of this technology. The training should be practical and relevant, though.



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