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Data entry, meetings, and bookkeeping are just some of the recurring tasks companies don’t usually put much thought into. After all, they’re essential parts of doing business. But have you ever tried to quantify just how much time your team spends on recurring tasks?
According to studies, recurring tasks can take up as much as 60% of your team’s total work hours.
In this guide, we will look at how much time teams spend on repetitive tasks and discuss strategies you can use to save time for your team.
Employees spend only 39% of their day on role-specific tasks. The rest of the time is spent on recurring and repetitive tasks, with the average employee spending 19 workdays every year on these types of tasks. This costs the U.S. economy $1.8 trillion annually.
Here’s how much time people are spending on repetitive tasks such as email management, meetings, and duplicate work.
According to a McKinsey study, office workers spend 28% of their workweek reading and replying to email.
An Adobe survey found similar results, with respondents stating that they spend 3.1 hours every day checking email.
This amounts to a total of 750 work hours spent on email every year. Keep in mind that this number doesn’t take into account the time it takes to refocus after checking your email, which, according to some studies, takes around 23 minutes each time.
Employees attend between 11 to 15 meetings every week. With the average meeting lasting around 60 minutes, workers spend between 550 to 750 hours in meetings every year.
This costs companies up to $56,448 per manager every year.
According to Asana’s Anatomy of Work report, teams spend 13% of their time on duplicate work, with data entry occupying a large chunk of that time. This means that employees waste 236 hours every year on the same tasks their co-workers have already completed.
These are global statistics, but the drain on U.S. companies is even greater, with U.S. employees wasting 308 hours every year on duplicate work.
We’ve talked about how much teams spend on recurring and repetitive tasks, as well as how much money this costs businesses. But trying to optimize the way your team handles recurring tasks, especially manual tasks, won’t just save time. It will also result in the following benefits:
Just because your team is putting in long hours doesn’t mean that they’re focused on producing high-value work. The last thing you want is a team that is going through the motions.
By keeping recurring tasks to a minimum, you can free up your team’s time for more fulfilling work. You might save yourself some money, too.
Common sense suggests that less work will equate to fewer billable hours. If you can find a way for your team to spend less time on emails, meetings, and data entry, they’ll have plenty of time to focus on their job-specific duties.
Routine tasks like manual data entry and extracting data often lead to human error. By eliminating these types of repetitive manual tasks or reducing the time your team spends on them, you’ll spend less time addressing mistakes and save money for your business.
Now that you understand how much time your team is wasting on recurring and repetitive tasks, let’s look at some things you can do to improve your team’s efficiency.
You can't uncover the time your team is spending on repetitive tasks if you aren’t keeping track of time.
Like all purchase decisions, choosing the right time tracking tool can be a bit challenging. Your employees might not have experience with a time clock app. You may have never used one yourself.
Follow these steps to help you make the right decision:
Do you need proof of work features like customizable screenshotting or activity rates based on keyboard and mouse usage? Maybe you just need a simple timer. Make sure the time tracker you choose has the features your team needs.
When deciding on features to look for, remember to ask your team for input. They’ll be the ones using the software.
Switching your entire team to a time tracking tool could derail the progress you’ve made on the project management and communication tools you already have in place.
Fortunately, a lot of time trackers offer powerful integrations with tools you’re already familiar with.
Ease of use is extremely important when implementing a time tracking app. Even if you’re tech-savvy yourself, it doesn’t mean your employees are.
Saving money is always important. You can find plenty of free time tracking apps, but make sure they have the features your company needs. They could be free for a reason.
Most time tracking apps charge per user, but plan pricing can vary based on which features are included.
Even the best time tracking software won’t save you time and money without a strong policy. Announcing to your employees that you are planning to track their time can evoke a lot of different emotions.
That’s why it’s crucial that you give your team an outline of how and when you plan to implement time tracking software to increase efficiency.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you get started:
Which departments and positions will be tracking time?
Are there any circumstances where time should not be tracked?
Will you enable optional screenshotting or other proof of work features?
What happens when someone forgets to start their timer? Will you build a formal process for adding missed time?
A good time tracking policy answers these questions but also solves problems exclusive to your line of work.
Tracking time isn’t just about recording the time that your employees are putting in. It’s also an opportunity to gain valuable insights about when and how your team works.
With time tracking software, you can limit the time you spend on recurring tasks by:
Time tracking tools like Hubstaff can show you how much time team members are spending on each task. This can help you get a better understanding of whether your team might be wasting time on certain tasks.
By understanding how long tasks take to complete, you’ll also be able to identify tasks that might be holding up projects. Can you reduce the time spent on these tasks, or will project managers have to change deadlines for similar projects moving forward?
Every member of your team is good at something, but they can’t all be good at everything. For example, it might take one team member twelve hours to write a blog post, while another can do it in six hours. Understanding team members’ efficiency enables you to make the best use of your team’s time.
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to streamlining processes. The first step to making your business processes more efficient is to document them.
When creating process documentation, make sure to outline the scope of the process, identify its inputs and outputs, describe all the steps included, and name the stakeholders involved.
Here are a few tips to keep you from spending too much time on this phase:
Keep the document simple and concise – It should be easy to follow and help your team get to work as soon as possible with few questions.
Start small – Try not to build robust, cross-channel process documents that affect your entire company. Focus on a simple process so that you can hone your skills.
Create a guide to writing process documentation – Once you’ve successfully outlined some processes, make a guide so that you can delegate this work to others moving forward.
Store documents in a central location – Looking for documents can often be time-consuming. Use a tool like Confluence to house all of your process documents. They’re useless if your team can never find them.
Once you’ve documented a process, review each step and look for ways it could be improved. Maybe there are steps that don’t depend on each other and could be done concurrently? Alternatively, perhaps performing the steps in a different order could help speed up things?
Do this for all the manual processes your team uses, starting with the ones that are used most frequently.
While less than five percent of jobs can be fully automated, most have aspects that are ripe for automation. Automating repetitive tasks can save your team a lot of time.
Look into your time tracking data to see which tasks are taking your team the most time. If you’re still not using a time tracking tool, ask your team members to tell you what kind of tasks are taking a lot of time.
Add these tasks to a spreadsheet, and make sure to note the average time spent on each task and how often your team needs to complete it. This will help you identify the most time-consuming tasks.
Once you do that, look into ways of automating these tasks. While some tasks aren't a fit for being fully automated, most tasks can be automated to at least a certain extent.
Here are some tools you can use to automate tasks:
Hootsuite for social media posting
Calendly for scheduling meetings and interviews
LastPass for saving and entering login information
HubSpot for nurturing leads
You can also use a tool like Zapier to create custom workflow automation Zaps that fit your workflow. Zapier even integrates with Hubstaff, allowing you to automate time tracking notifications, event creation, and shift management.
Ready to help your team reduce the time they spend on recurring tasks and repetitive work? Here’s what you need to do:
Sign up for a trial of Hubstaff – Take advantage of the free 14-day trial to see if Hubstaff is a good time tracking solution for your team.
Streamline one process – Document a single process and look into ways it could be streamlined. Don’t worry about other processes until you find a way to improve that one.
Choose a repetitive task to automate – Automating your entire workflow is likely not possible. Choose one recurring task and try to use software to automate it.
Track time, identify bottlenecks, and manage your team better with Hubstaff.