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Reduce the ‘Dark Matter of Work’ with Increased Workflow Process Visibility

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Image: Metta foto - Alamy Stock Photo
Time is money, and work management platform Wrike has identified exactly how much money inefficient workflow is costing American businesses: somewhere between $52 and $60 million annually.
These inefficiencies are caused by unproductive meetings, duplicate efforts, and unclear direction – something Wrike calls the “dark matter of work.” And in a new research report, Dark Matter of Work: The Hidden Cost of Work Complexities, the company further expanded on the financial implications of cumbersome work processes.
But what defines the ‘Dark Matter of Work,’ and how does this hinder employee productivity? No Jitter tapped Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, to find out because if organizations can identify their own dark matter, they can understand its impact and take avoidable action.
"It's an interesting metaphor that struck me one day," Filev said, referring to CERN's definition of dark matter as the "invisible" content that accounts for 95% of the universe's mass. "This [metaphor] is comparable to today's workflows and digital work in general." Wrike polled 2,800 business leaders and knowledge workers to determine the underlying causes of work complexities and the severity of their impact on businesses, teams, and individuals.
According to the respondents, 55% of the work that takes place within an organization isn’t visible to key stakeholders—and this invisible work costs organizations up to $60 million a year in wasted time, delayed or canceled projects, and employee churn.
“I’ve noticed a disconnect between what companies formally define as their workflows,” Filev said. Data shows that the average knowledge worker sends and receives 295 work-related messages each day. “There’s a lot of work that travels through [Slack] messages, Zoom calls, and spreadsheets that are the actual workflow for that organization, but the company doesn't think about them this way,” Filev added.
Wrike’s data says shared workspaces that streamline efforts and break down silos can help, and work management software can be part of that shared workspace. “Teams get a holistic view of projects in play and can work as one, and business leaders have full visibility in order to better understand how work supports strategic initiatives and organizational goals,” Filev said.
That visibility is found in a work management platform, Filev explained. “If you have customers, you want to have a customer relationship management system where you put the data—if you have files, you need to have a file system where you put that data—same was the work your projects, your workflows, if you have them.” He said that “80% of work should be visible” and explained that leaders must do things like resource management, where if somebody's overworked, you're trying to rebalance it with other people.”
Filev emphasized that there’s an “alarmingly low level of visibility amongst knowledge workers and leaders. “Many knowledge workers feel burnt out—and that started to appear before pandemic—but then in pandemic greatly escalated,” he said. “Due to this reality where people are overwhelmed with digital work, there's not enough visibility and control, and instead of us controlling that work, that work controls us.”