Save time by multitasking?
A supervisor constantly looking at his smartphone during an employee appraisal. A consultant who is meeting in the meeting eMails reads. Or a half-time worker who prepares her to-do list for the next day in the office while shopping in thought. Classic everyday situations in today's workplace.
The trend toward multitasking is spreading more and more, especially in times of increasing digitalization, in which home-office and mobile work are gaining in importance. Also the increasing information and eMailEmployees frequently face parallel tides in several projects and tasks in the office and the growing pressure to perform.
Employee motivation suffers from multitasking
At first glance, multitasking seems to be an ideal solution for long task lists: doing several things at the same time, saving time and resources. But the medal also has a downside: The motivation of the employees suffers considerably. A recent study shows how engagement in the workplace can be promoted. The central factor: More self-determined work!
So what about the engagement in Germany? Just 12 percent of workers in Germany are very committed. This is proven by a study on employee engagement, which we conducted in collaboration with the Ipsos research institute. The results of the global study help us to understand how commitment and satisfaction in the office can be influenced and what factors are crucial.
The ideal place to work for every situation
One of the five key findings of the survey is that committed employees can make a large number of decisions about where and how they can work and retire to do their job undisturbed. Multitasking and persistent irrigation therefore have a fundamentally negative impact on employee motivation.
What does this mean for the design of office space? Thanks to the study results, we know that the key to more self-determination and therefore more engagement is to offer employees a wide range of different environments in the office. We speak of a so-called “ecosystem workplace”. In this ecosystem, it is always possible for employees to choose a place of work that provides them with the best possible support in the upcoming job.
Concentration and privacy: key factors for engagement
For concentrated individual work, this can be your own desk, a comfortable retreat for some rest and relaxation and, if work as a team needs to be done, a meeting room where the group is not disturbed. Especially the need for privacy should not be neglected in the design of workspaces, because 98 percent of the very committed employees state that they can concentrate without any problems.
It is also interesting that self-determination not only refers to the choice of the place of work, but also to the design of the workplace as a whole. This includes, for example, the decision about your own office furniture, the regulation of the room temperature or whether you can customize the workplace with pictures or other personal objects.
Recommendations for action Company
In the study results, we see that in Germany unused potentials are at a standstill in spatial design. For example, less than half of respondents (44 percent) have retreats, the majority of German workers still work with fixed technologies (eg fixed-line telephones or desktops) and 67 percent of respondents report that they never work outside their offices ,
Selection and control in a diverse work place - these are the keys to success and committed, satisfied employees. However, scientists at the University of Michigan Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory have shown that multitasking is actually a quick switch of attention. It is precisely this constant irritation that suffers motivation. And this is where companies should start.
5 tips against the multitasking delusion
Every time the task is changed, attention has to be re-focused on the original topic. For our brains, this is counterproductive and exhausting. Therefore, here 5 tips on how to escape the multitasking delusion:
- Complete different tasks can be better combined: There is one exception: when the activities performed address completely different areas of the brain, such as running (manual activity) and speaking (verbal activity). In contrast, the use of the same areas leads to more or less serious errors, such as a typo in one eMail or inattention in the meeting.
- Distribute attention in the workplace correctly: At Steelcase, we have increasingly observed that in today's workplaces, too many tasks usually hit the employees at once and compete for attention. In the office in particular, these activities usually require the same “channels” of the brain, which, however, can only accomplish one task at a time.
- Focus on a task: Many employees are not aware today of how much they are restricted in their mental abilities when trying to operate multitasking throughout the day. It is therefore important to focus on one task at a time.
- Better “flow” than multitasking: The exact opposite of multitasking is what the psychologist does Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is called flow: the total absorption in a thing over a longer period of time and thus a state in which, according to many experts, we are most productive.
- Create concentrated working conditions: Such a flow does not happen at random, but is achieved only at a complete concentration, which should be self-sufficient and not disturbed. In a simple way a flow can not be reached in most office spaces - and it can not be maintained indefinitely. It's a pity, because a lot of people are longing for a flow.
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