Questions Eat Into Productivity: Study

July 24, 2003 ( - Who, what, when, why, where and how are not just questions that need answering in every story, they are also large speed bumps on the road to office productivity.

Nearly a third of the typical workweek (32%) is spent responding to coworker questions, according to a study by Collaborative Strategies LLC, commissioned by Mountain View, California-based ePeople.

And while the survey, sponsored by a firm that provides knowledge management systems, notes that more than half (54%) of the questions asked have never been answered before, or documented in a knowledge base, that would suggest that nearly half (the other (46%) are questions that HAVE been asked – and presumably answered – previously.

However, when a question or situation arises that does not have a known solution, that usually sends workers to any number of sources – not always the best, and perhaps not even the most consistent (or accurate) source – notwithstanding the impact of the interuption on workplace productivity.

Not too surprisingly, nearly all (88%) of the 157 survey respondents report that their company relies on informal processes to get their questions answered, although a comparable 81% say that the ability to identify expertise and share knowledge is important to the company.