Photo: JPDaigle on flickr
Accountants handling sales calls. Designers writing editorial. Entry-level employees working with major clients. None are uncommon scenarios post-recession. “Job descriptions are written in sand, and the wind is blowing,” management consultant Rich Moran told SmartMoney. According to the U.S. labour Department, the number of hours employees are working has gradually risen in the past two years. Furthermore, 53 per cent of workers said they’ve taken on new roles, most of them without extra pay (only 7 per cent got a raise or bonus), according to Spherion Staffing.
Nearly everyone is doing more with less. The recession inspired “stretch experiences,” says Seymour Adler, a vice president at career consulting company Aon Hewitt. “They killed themselves for a period of time, but there was an enormous amount of learning.”
Yet even if this new way of business has worked in the short term, there’s enough research out there to warn us against too much multitasking. In 2008, MIT’s Sloan School of Management studied a midsize recruiting firm, and found that throughout the course of five years, as employees took on more tasks, “firm revenue and project completion increased but only up to a point. When the caseload piled higher, speed and completion rates plummeted.”
In 2009, Stanford University researchers also found multitasking impairs cognitive control.
So what’s the short-term solution for those who are juggling several jobs? compartmentalising your days as much as possible, and focusing on the most important tasks first. The long-term solution may involve a conversation with your boss.
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