Execs Multitasking Challenged

Jul 07, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Today, technology offers 24/7 connectivity, but does increased access increase productivity? The answer to that depends on whom you ask, according to a New York Times report.

Researchers such as David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, say you really can’t do two things at once — at least not if you wish to do them well.

Professor Meyer asserts, “People who switch back and forth between two tasks, like exchanging e-mail and writing a report, may spend 50 percent more time on those tasks than if they work on them separately, completing one before starting the other.”

Bruce Mehlman, a former executive at Cisco Systems and current assistant commerce secretary for technology policy has a far different perspective.

He said, “Ten years ago, you had to be in the office 12 hours.” Because of technology, Mr. Mehlman now spends 10 hours a day at work. This, he contends, gives him more time at home with his family.

Bruce Mehlman admits that part of his quality time at home is spent working. While playing with his son, he is still able to use his laptop and cell phone to get work accomplished.

Moderator’s Comment: How has technology changed how
we do business and live our lives? Has it made things better or simply different?

Our experience tells us that technology has helped to
improve business performance. That doesn’t necessarily mean it helps make
us better people. A few year’s back, a former employer called us from his
cell phone while he was watching his son’s baseball game. We remember thinking,
poor kid.
Anderson – Moderator

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