Jabra report outlines knowledge workers’ collaboration and concentration challenges: over one third of the workforce think meetings reduce productivity and almost half are interrupted by background noise  

LOWELL, MA, October 28, 2015 – Audio and communications technology specialist Jabra today launched the research report Productivity at the Office – Challenges 2015. This reveals the paradoxes businesses face in creating productive working environments, as staff battle with distractions, poorly organized meetings and ineffective technology. Businesses are investing in time and tools for skilled professional office-based staff (knowledge workers) to effectively collaborate and concentrate. However, employees continue to face up to 17 different distractions throughout the work day, attend unproductive meetings, and struggle to use technology that was originally intended to improve productivity.

Key findings:

  • 36 percent think office meetings diminish productivity
  • 46 percent think noise levels are the most distracting issue in the office
  • 28 percent are annoyed by too many emails, though 78 percent would rather send an email than make a call to resolve an issue

The Productivity at the Office report reveals that most workers question the productivity of collaborative workspaces businesses have created to achieve efficiencies: most are situated in open plan offices (34 percent), which is also thought of as the least productive environment (35 percent agree).

Ineffective meetings
The report also reveals the failure of knowledge workers to organize effective collaboration time. Over half (51 percent) agree that meetings without direction or a clear agenda lead to wasted meeting time, 32 percent cite lack of decision-making, 31 percent cite lack of follow-up, 26 percent a lack of preparation and 25 percent the effect of latecomers. In a conference call scenario, some of the most annoying issues are due to sound, whether not being able to hear people’s voices, irrelevant background noise, connection issues, overall audio quality or not knowing if speakerphones are working as intended and that other participants can hear the speaker. Frustratingly for knowledge workers, these issues are also the most frequent. This presents a paradox: the majority of knowledge workers want to attend meetings despite these issues because of the perceived productivity gain to the organization, even though 36 percent claim meetings diminish their personal productivity.

Productivity of time spent at a desk is also crucial: workers spend most of their time at their desks, over 66 percent of the working week (over 6 times more than in meetings), so it is where the most significant productivity gains can be made or lost. However, knowledge workers deal with up to 17 distractions during work, many of which are caused by other people. Most common are distracting noise levels (46 percent), interruptions from colleagues (43 percent), and number of emails (28 percent). People also value environmental factors that could be better controlled, such as temperature, air quality and lack of privacy. Re-thinking desk space for time spent concentrating could eliminate a host of issues that negatively impact productivity at work.

Holger Reisinger, SVP, Jabra, comments: “Productivity is critical to business success and remaining competitive. Every allocated resource should be used to its best advantage and to the most benefit to the organization, with processes and tools in place to make sure this happens. While many organizations have designed workspaces to facilitate better collaboration, and invested in technology to bring people together in meetings or on calls, this approach is not consistently delivering the intended benefits. Businesses need to re-evaluate their knowledge workers’ needs to ensure productivity throughout the working day if they are to meet commercial goals.”

Technology is key
The report also highlights how limited productivity at work affects a company’s ability to attract and retain staff, as distractions in the workplace significantly affect work-life balance. Today, a significant proportion of knowledge workers are struggling to complete their tasks during the working day. 36 percent are completing tasks outside of work hours and the office in order to make sure work is completed ahead of the next working day.

To facilitate meetings, technology, such as smart boards, speakerphones, project management software, or mind-mapping or brainstorming software is often used. Yet, implementing these tools is often counterintuitive to productivity. As an example, the time and investment spent setting up conference calls is significant: 25 percent of meetings are delayed due to technical and/or user issues, and on average 2.7 minutes of every meeting is lost as a result. Depending on the number of attendees at the meeting, the cost to the business can escalate. While 71 percent of meetings take place in one place, 29 percent are across multiple locations so collaborative technology is crucial. However, knowledge workers struggle to use it, causing significant frustrations that five in 10 say are the most annoying.

Reisinger concludes: “Businesses have to facilitate a unique balance of collaboration and concentration. To-date, they have made great strides in enabling workers to achieve more through collaboration and they must do this while ensuring employees don’t lose time trying to use ineffective technology. Otherwise, organizations are wasting resources each time a worker fails to conduct a conference call or meeting. While this remains a challenge, businesses also have to consider achieving productivity in an employee’s concentration time. An adaptable workspace depending on the individual, task or job role is the new way of working businesses must accommodate.”

About the Productivity at the Office report
The Productivity at the Office report is a survey of over 2,449 workers aged 18-65 across USA, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, China, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, conducted in May 2015, as part of Jabra’s New Ways of Working initiative. 

To download the report from Jabra, please go to:

To read more from Jabra about the New Ways of Working initiative please visit:

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Amy Rice
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About Jabra
Jabra is the brand of GN Netcom, a subsidiary of GN Store Nord A/S (GN) - listed on NASDAQ OMX.

A world leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad range of communications and audio solutions, Jabra has a reputation for innovation, reliability, and ease of use that goes back more than two decades. Jabra’s consumer and business divisions produce corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that empower individuals and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality. Jabra employs close to 1000 people worldwide and in 2014 produced an annual revenue which amounted to DKK 2,871 million. www.jabra.com

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