We all currently live in the golden age of technology. Cell phones essentially double as a computer with the added bonus of being able to fit in the palm of our hands. At work, people are able to communicate with other workers and with their bosses almost immediately—exchanging correspondence without ever having to leave their desk. You would think that these massively helpful leaps in technology would assist modern workers in achieving their employment goals at an accelerated rate. But a new article from Boston.com begs to differ. Workers in this day and age are actually working at a much slower pace than those who held the same positions up to 17 years ago.
A study conducted by Wells Fargo has indicated that the influx of communication and information based technology isn’t proving to be as beneficial as one may think. It may actually be actively contributing to the decrease in productivity across multiple job fields. With the exception of the information industry (jobs which include journalism, technical support, and data processing) each of the industries listed on a graph provided by Wells Fargo show decreases in productivity. Some businesses, such as Waste Industries, show only a slight decrease. While others, such as Construction, show a wider berth. The report, which was released on July 6th, compared productivity growth charts from 1998-2003 to ones provided for 2004-2014. And while the reports indicated that, yes, there was still a margin of growth during the past decade or so—it evolved at a much slower rate than in previous years.
Sarah House, an economist for Wells Fargo, has stated that based on the company’s findings it appears as though this is an economic issue that is widespread and not just based in one particular industry. She has provided a list of possible explanations for this ongoing development the report uncovered.
Sarah House suggests that a few key matters could be contributing to the declining productivity taking place. She highlights the fact that since the economic recession took place, numerous companies have opted out of purchasing new equipment for their respective offices—even if they are desperately needed. According to a 2013 report provided by the U.S. Labor Department, spending on technology and related property has decreased from 4.7 percent to just 2.8 percent in recent years. Sarah House believes that the workers at these particular locations are only going to be as good as the equipment that is provided to them. The lack of resources could be negatively affecting the quality of work people are able to produce.
It also seems apparent that although these strides in technology may benefit certain areas, they don’t seem to be having an enormous effect on what is actually being produced. Sure, you can email your coworkers for advice on a matter, but your smart phone isn’t going to help you sort through various case files in order to find the one piece of information you actually need.
House also believes that in addition to this matter, workers may also become distracted by the easily accessible social media on their phones and will choose to focus on their personal matters over their professional ones.
The route this declination is traveling down is undecided—things could easily continue along this way, or there could be a possible increased rate of productivity being observed in the future. Sarah House says that signs point to there being increased productivity going forward, but that there is no official timestamp for this type of occurrence. The economy heading on an upswing could contribute to companies purchasing the equipment they need, which could help motivate workers to reach their full potential. Wells Fargo also details the point that robotics could contribute to further production in the upcoming years; which is a notion that leaves Boston.com questioning whether or not this type of development could wipe out human counterparts entirely if the robotics proved to be more productive.
Regardless of where you may stand on the robotic issue, it’s clear that something needs to be done in the immediate future to combat these negative levels of efficiency. Whether that means putting your phone down at work or requesting proper aids in your work environment, a generalized movement in a positive direction could help bridge the gap for workers in all industries.
*Additional information, graphs, and quotes can be found in the original article provided here: http://www.boston.com/jobs/news/2015/07/10/american-workers-are-slowing-down-why/ysRjDkw8HwGTszqOfTwTwN/story.html?p1=Must_Reads_hp