The COVID-19 digital age has made it easier than ever to blur the lines between home and work. Slack messages can arrive during dinner time and many can be tempted to send just one more email from bed at night.
Although these blurred lines are frustrating to employers and employees alike, they can also be detrimental to both employee wellbeing and workplace efficiency.
Wrike, a work management platform, refers to this phenomenon as the “Dark Matter of Work”, asserting that knowledge workers waste five days per year worth of personal time on “unaccounted” work.
Wrike founder Andrew Filev defines the term as the “vast amount of work that isn’t captured, tracked, or measured against goals because it takes place in synchronous applications and unstructured ways”.
Wrike’s research, conducted by Sapio Research, surveyed 804 business function leaders and 2,003 knowledge workers in IT, marketing, and other similar fields in the US and the UK
Of those surveyed, 70% said that they feel stressed due to the combination of multiple tasks, systems, and applications.
These systems and applications make it even easier for work to make itself into the home, as 60% of those surveyed responded that their jobs are eating into their personal lives.
Too much tech causes unproductivity
Because so much work gets lost, fading into “Dark Matter”, some tasks are repeated by others who are unaware that they have already been completed. Wrike found that 54% of knowledge workers are frustrated because when they complete work, they later discover that someone else has already done so.
This frustration can poorly affect employee wellbeing, and some employers have no means of truly knowing how their employees are feeling, as many are working from home. In fact, Wrike’s survey showed that 66% of business leaders say that it is nearly impossible to know when their employees are over-working.
Such data suggests that HR teams and managers must more intently investigate the “Dark Matter of Work”. In this new world of work, there is no escaping the many tech tools employees are required to use. However, there needs to be a focus on stopping work being lost to inefficiency and the blur between home and work.
By investing in workflow automaton programs, employee mental health services, and enforcing more structured work hours, employers may be able to decrease the negative effects of the digital age.
Ultimately, employers are the role models when it comes to when an email is sent, an assignment is turned in, and an “available” notification is on; they set the standard for their workforce and thus have the means of reducing how much “Dark Matter” gets lost.