Vinay Rao, Director of Channel Marketing and Business Transformation
Xerox Indirect Channels Business Group

Productivity is a complex term.

In the world of “bean counters” and investors it means cost reduction. But in the world of the office or workplace – the word takes a different meaning. Being productive is fundamental to business success as well as personal satisfaction.

What is the proper meaning of productivity? It depends on how you measure productivity.

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. However you need to be careful in defining how you measure productivity. All myths of productivity emanate from wrong measurement metrics. Doing things faster is a typical example of productivity. Speed may indicate higher productivity. But in reality the end results may be disappointing if the focus is wrong.

Take reading as an example.

By the measure of faster reading can we say a person is productive? Obviously not. When it comes to reading, comprehension is more important than speed. While speed is easy to measure, comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading.

The correlation between productivity and reading are strong. In an office or workplace, thoughtful actions in solving business problems require reading, learning and collaboration. Reading and learning are the fundamental pillars of individual productivity. Read well, learn well – you are off to a great start in being productive at your workplace.

Speaking of reading comprehension… is reading on the screen better or worse than reading from a printed page? Obviously with tremendous improvements in digital technologies in recent years, reading on the screen has grown leaps and bounds. It seems as easy as reading from printed pages. Has digital media reached a point of replacing paper? The biophysicists and neuroscientists don’t think so.

In a New York Times online discussion between experts, Sandra Aamodt, former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience and co-author of Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life writes, “To a great extent, the computer’s usefulness for serious reading depends on the user’s strength of character. Distractions abound on most people’s computer screens. ”

So, next time you come across documents that requires accurate response or better understanding – print first, read from paper and take action. If the document is a short text message or short email note, reading/responding on screen is a no brainer. With a proper first step, you are off to achieve greater productivity.

We’d like to hear from you. What do you do to increase productivity in your office or workplace?