Despite the growth of automation in the workplace, many workers still spend a substantial amount of their time at work performing the same manual, repetitive tasks. This ongoing slog is a fact of life for a substantial number of workers across industries and functions. According to Smartsheet’s Automation in the Workplace report, 40% of workers spend a quarter of their work weeks on repetitive tasks.
To be clear, this is work that must get done. Whether it’s populating the latest numbers across a series of spreadsheets to report on a project status or approving monthly vendor invoices, these tedious tasks are crucial to keeping business running smoothly. But since they often fulfill only the most basic functions, they may not drive business value that is proportionate to the amount of time, energy, and attention they consume. Such work helps keep the lights on, so to speak, but it won’t propel effectiveness or help you take performance to the next level.
Repetitive tasks take a bite out of more than just time
Have you ever considered the toll these mundane, repetitive tasks take on your organization? It’s more than just wasted time. These low-value, ongoing tasks seem never-ending because they are. No sooner are you done with this month’s updates and approvals than it’s time to start the next cycle and perform the same tasks all over again.
It’s a recipe for drudgery that can quickly erode employee engagement and satisfaction. And when work feels like a slog, workers are hardly motivated to do their best work, much less feel inspired to pursue innovative new ideas that can make the business perform more effectively. (All that drudge work doesn’t leave much time for creative thinking anyway!)
Yes, you can clear your plate of some repetitive work
The best way to combat the effects of manual, repetitive work is to eliminate it as much as possible. Through automation and automated workflows, workers can be more efficient and effective.
Automation need not require advanced technical skills, or even help from the IT department, and the benefits can quickly outweigh any investment of time and effort required to get started. Six in 10 workers estimate that employing automation would save them six or more hours each week and 86% say automation makes them more efficient and productive, according to Smartsheet data. Letting software perform these basic tasks also improves the accuracy and quality of results because it reduces common, simple human errors that can quickly proliferate (researchers estimate that a whopping 90 percent of spreadsheets contain mistakes, ranging from minor to severe).
The indirect benefits of automation are somewhat harder to quantify, but they can be exponential. Though fuelling output is a worthy goal in and of itself, automation’s effectiveness boost is multifold because clearing employees’ plates of boring, unsatisfying tasks makes work more rewarding. And when engaged employees have adequate time and energy, they are freed to do more creative and innovative work that truly helps the business to perform at its most effective.
Want to learn what other common workplace challenges that are standing in the way of true effectiveness – and what to do about them? Check out Smartsheet’s latest report: 6 Reasons Your Work Is so Dysfunctional — and What You Can Do About It.