Multitasking used to be a strength people bragged about in job interviews. In today’s workforce, however, multitasking is a basic job requirement. Employees in every department are constantly balancing a huge array of applications, notifications, messages, spreadsheets, deadlines, action items, and huddles. It’s a lot.

Most people have learned to divide their attention to succeed in business. But what cost does this constant ping-ponging between applications have to businesses?

The people at Harvard Business Review conducted in-depth research on the topic of application switching, and the results were startling: average employees switch applications and web pages nearly 1,200 times a day. Beyond that, they were able to quantify just how much time it takes to adjust to a switch: 2 seconds.

That means that in one day, an employee spends 40 minutes waiting for a new app to load, adjusting to the new visual field of a spreadsheet, or trying to toggle from one page to another.

That’s over 3 hours in a work week.

In a full year? The average employee spends nearly 5 working weeks switching between apps and web pages.

That’s 9% of the time they spend at work.

The Cost is Greater Than You Think

This is a huge, tangible problem for businesses. But the problem is bigger than you think: Here are three main takeaways from this research:

  • Huge Costs for Diminishing Returns. There’s a very real monetary cost here: first, 9% of your workforce’s salaries are effectively wasted. On top of that, the apps you pay for are causing this waste. By incorrectly optimizing your app ecosystem, you’re spending money to pay even more money.
  • Productivity Problems. This is a huge time-suck: that’s 9% of your workforce flushed down the drain, and it’s accepted as the cost of doing business. On top of that, we must reframe how we view technology purchases. We used to think of apps as tools in our workday. But business leaders need to understand that apps now impede efficiency. They make it harder for us to do our jobs.
  • Functionality Overlap. Large companies now deploy around 187 apps on average. And research shows that nearly one-third of them are either redundant or add little actual value to the company. So not only are we wasting time with all our apps – we’re wasting our time on apps that don’t always add any value to the company.
  • Emotional cost – Frustration Taxation. Most modern workers are tech-savvy. And this means that they can understand when tech is actively impeding them from doing their job. Think about it – how many times have you grumbled while you wait for an email attachment to open? How many times have you been frustrated when a web page took forever to load? How many times have you said, “this stinks,” as you waited for a key app to finally start working? Your employees feel it too. And the amount of time spent dealing with tech is frustrating.

How to avoid the Toggling Tax

Most people see the toggling tax as the cost of doing business. But you shouldn’t have to pay. Here are some ways you can cut that tax down to zero:

1. Sit with your users.

Watch how people use the apps. Where do slowdowns occur? Where are integrations possible? What frustrates your employees most? It’s time-consuming, but your end-users will know about problems in your app ecosystem better than anyone.

2. Review your integrations. 

Are you getting everything you can out of your apps? Which integrations work, and which ones don’t? Are you missing out on any key integrations that will make a smoother business process for your users?

3. Conduct an application audit. 

See what people use and don’t use. Think about overlapping functionality, niche software, and mission-critical tools. Reviewing your entire application library helps you see what you need and what you can eliminate. And when you get rid of excess applications, you make a better experience for your users.

4. Take the burden off your users.

Be strategic about how you use apps and the options you give your employees. You can use screen consolidation tools for contact center employees. You can standardize one single UC platform across all employees. When you make the call, you help your employees avoid paying the toggling tax.

Not sure where to start?

CXponent is a proven champion at network stack audits. We can help you review your applications and make sure you’re avoiding the toggling tax. Reach out today!