Published: August 31, 2021 | Updated: August 30, 2021

Study: Five hours wasted weekly on what could be automated

Sholeh Patrick

Sholeh Patrick

If you ever feel trapped in a loop of wasted work time, you’re not alone. A recent poll suggests American workers are wasting too much time on tasks they think could be automated. In Idaho, we may be wasting even more than average.

The OnePoll study conducted on behalf of software automation firm UiPath (taken with a grain of potential bias) polled 2,000 American office workers who’ve been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic about their evolving roles.

Results indicated American believe they waste 4 hours and 59 minutes on tasks which could be automated. That’s more than two business weeks per year, per person, of lost productivity. Broken down by state, those in Idaho say they waste 5 hours and 13 minutes.

The study further found:

• Sixty nine percent reported feeling like they’re repeating the same tasks too much, and 67 percent wish their job wasn’t so monotonous.

• Slightly more than 1 in 3 surveyed said their employers invested in automation software for the first time this past year. Hoping to boost their own productivity, 35 percent said they’re learning about artificial intelligence, and 33 percent are learning robotic process automation skills.

• Just over half — 52 percent — said they specifically trained in automation over the past year, and of these 94 percent agreed it improved their job performance.

• Overall, 69 percent said their on-the-job skills have improved over the past year and 87 percent learned new skills while working from home during the pandemic.

• Seven in 10 wish they had more time to work on higher-value tasks.

Most (65 percent) agreed that skills related to machine learning and AI would be beneficial to their careers in the long run.

What tasks do they want automated? The top answers were:

• Emails (drafting, responding, sending reminders and follow-ups): 70 percent

• Scheduling calls and meetings: 61 percent

• Inputting data/creating datasets: 60 percent

• Speaking to managers or team members: 43 percent

• Helping customers: 21 percent

Moving beyond automation, 65 percent also said they’d be more willing to continue working at a company that offered opportunities to learn new skills, and 72 percent think they’d be more productive at their job if they learned new skills. Of those who have added new skills, 4 in 5 also feel more confident about their jobs.

The pandemic wasn’t all bad for business. It may have also highlighted valuable workers. Of those surveyed 48 percent got promotions and 56 percent have more responsibility or earned raises. Forty-two percent reported new leadership or management training.

Conversely, 1 in 10 (13 percent) of office workers admitted to not learning any new skills while working from home during the pandemic.

The study’s presumed intention and implications are wonderfully ironic: It may take robots (and robotic software) to help workers feel less like robots.

(See these results in the infographic

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email