{Study} Multitasking & negative effects: 25% less sales, 20% less performance


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The multidiscussed topic has recently been scientifically investigated. The study shows: Where work is done on multiple projects and tasks at the same time, 25% of sales and 20% performance are lost.

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Claudia Simon Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®Claudia Simon is the managing director of VISTEM GmbH & Co. KG.

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Everyday life in Company: Tasks are rarely completed without interruption

Everyone knows this: little interruptions and disturbances enable efficient and error-free work. If it just could be that easy. The everyday life in the company shows something else:

In the study with just under 500 participants, the company Vistem shared with Dr. Ayelt Komus, Professor for Organization and Business Informatics at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, only 10% of respondents stated that they could work continuously until completion. For the majority of 90% even multiple errors are the norm.

mulitasking trial-4

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Man is not a computer

State-of-the-art technologies enable round-the-clock and 7-days-the-week communication on all channels. More and more information is pouring in on us - and we do not really know how to sort and classify them in order to retrieve them in the event of a case.

This can have a negative effect on the workload, the result and possibly the mental health of the employee. In detail, the respondents suffer from the following aspects:

  • Control as many processes as possible at the same time.
  • Perform an ever-increasing number of tasks.
  • Increase speed more and more.

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Neither value estimation nor value added

Our study shows that the resulting multitasking is a dead end - both for every individual concerned as well as for companies from a business perspective.

Appreciation looks different. According to the study, it doesn't look much better with added value: More than 60 percent of those surveyed state that a considerable part of the effort (> 20%) is not used to add value.

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mulitasking trial-4

The study in detail

For the study “Multitasking in Project Management - Status Quo and Potential”, participants from 20 industries were asked, including around 50% from companies with up to 500 employees and 50% with between 1.000 and 10.000 employees.

7% of the interviewees are members of the executive board, 9% are chief department heads / directors, 24% department head or comparable. 35% function as group or team leader, 13% as agent. 12% are not included in the above categories and therefore can not be assigned. Here are a few summary results:

  • 25% of the participants with a high proportion of multitasking rate the success of their company as worse on average: potential for improving the project throughput over 25%.
  • Fast 70% of respondents are of the opinion that at least 30% of the project duration can be saved.
  • Only 2% of respondents do not work in parallel on several tasks.
  • At almost 80%, there is a considerable number of specialists who can not be represented.
  • Fast 70% of group leaders have to deal with constantly changing priorities.
  • In just under 70% of cases, management support has to be maintained or the project is delayed.
  • More than 75% of projects start inadequately prepared and thus cause a lot of additional work.
  • Where several projects and tasks are being worked on at the same time, 20% capacity is squandered, as 20% performance in companies is lost.
  • This means that the company could make 25% more sales with the same resources.

muiltitasking-study-value creation

Significant savings potential

In summary, the study has shown: In companies in which the indicators for multitasking were particularly pronounced, a possible savings potential was also rated as particularly high.

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According to the study, a high degree of maturity in project management as well as agile methods is necessary to leverage this potential. An only local or partial introduction is largely ineffective. The best results are achieved with a hybrid of critical chain project management and agile methods.

multitasking study profit calculation

Free quick test shows your own multitasking score

For all who want to compare themselves with the participants of the study, there is one Quick test, which provides information on how strong multitasking is in your own company or environment and how much potential is wasted as a result. Nine questions from everyday working life are answered anonymously and as spontaneously as possible.

The answers are given points from 0 “heavenly state” to 10 “here there is maximum negative multitasking” and form the negative multitasking score.

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  1. Nebojsa Jovanovic

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  2. IFM GmbH

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