Reuters Takes Bogus "Study" and Calls it News

It is stunning what passes for both news and “science” today. One of the fundamental rules of experimental design is that your measurements must measure what you think they measure.

If you want to determine the tallest person in the room, you don’t do it by using a bathroom scale. Similarly if you want to measure worker productivity, you measure the quantity of work DONE not the quantity of work UNDONE. Yet amazingly this (and a few other things) are lost on the Reuters news babe who penned this embarrassing piece:

Americans work more, seem to accomplish less

By Ellen Wulfhorst Thu Feb 23, 9:58 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.
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Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers Inc., an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.

The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say.

“Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it’s slowed everything down, paradoxically,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you’re on to the next thing,” Challenger said on Wednesday. “It’s harder to feel like you’re accomplishing something.”

Unlike a decade ago, U.S. workers are bombarded with e-mail, computer messages, cell phone calls, voice mails and the like, research showed.

The average time spent on a computer at work was almost 16 hours a week last year, compared with 9.5 hours a decade ago, according to the Day-Timer research released this week.

Workers typically get 46 e-mails a day, nearly half of which are unsolicited, it said.

Sixty percent of workers say they always or frequently feel rushed, but those who feel extremely or very productive dropped to 51 percent from 83 percent in 1994, the research showed.

Put another way, in 1994, 82 percent said they accomplished at least half their daily planned work but that number fell to 50 percent last year. A decade ago, 40 percent of workers called themselves very or extremely successful, but that number fell to just 28 percent.

“We think we’re faster, smarter, better with all this technology at our side and in the end, we still feel rushed and our feeling of productivity is down,” said Maria Woytek, marketing communications manager for Day-Timers, a unit of ACCO Brands Corp.

Rather than actually measure what the worker “produced” they studied what the workers said they had left to produce at the end of the day. That has nothing to do with what workers do get accomplished. If your job is to pick oranges and you pick 100 per day in 1994 when you are asked to pick 120 but in 2005 you pick 120 oranges when asked to pick 150 you are still more productive in 2005.

But all that is moot. This isn’t news, it’s advertising copy dressed up look like science. Lemme play that article back to you with different things bolded and my comments in brackets.

Americans work more, seem to accomplish less

By Ellen Wulfhorst Thu Feb 23, 9:58 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.

Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers Inc., an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.

[Did you miss that the first time? This is not a university or a research facility, it is people who want to sell you day timers. They created a bogus “study” for the media because we all know the media loves studies.]

The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say.

[OF COURSE the biggest culprit is technology. WHY? Becasue the people doing the research sell paper day organizers. Technology is killing them.]

“Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it’s slowed everything down, paradoxically,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you’re on to the next thing,” Challenger said on Wednesday. “It’s harder to feel like you’re accomplishing something.”

Unlike a decade ago, U.S. workers are bombarded with e-mail, computer messages, cell phone calls, voice mails and the like, research showed.

[bad technology bad]

The average time spent on a computer at work was almost 16 hours a week last year, compared with 9.5 hours a decade ago, according to the Day-Timer research released this week.

[and that is time they should be spending with their day timers]

Workers typically get 46 e-mails a day, nearly half of which are unsolicited, it said.

Sixty percent of workers say they always or frequently feel rushed, but those who feel extremely or very productive dropped to 51 percent from 83 percent in 1994, the research showed.

Put another way, in 1994, 82 percent said they accomplished at least half their daily planned work but that number fell to 50 percent last year. A decade ago, 40 percent of workers called themselves very or extremely successful, but that number fell to just 28 percent.

“We think we’re faster, smarter, better with all this technology at our side and in the end, we still feel rushed and our feeling of productivity is down,” said Maria Woytek, marketing communications manager for Day-Timers, a unit of ACCO Brands Corp.

This “study” is ACCO Brands advertising that Reuters called news.

Going back to my original point, this study DID measure exactly what it was supposed to measure. It DID NOT measure productivity gains or losses because of technology. It measured how people FELT. Of course we feel more rushed, we’re getting more done. — If you think you don’t get more accomplished today than in 1994, give up your technology and see what you get accomplished.

This is why I get so annoyed by the never-ending “studies” that pretend to be news. I’d bet that over 95% of the people reading that story will never know they just read advertising copy. The news media will print any “study” they feel the whim to print regardless of its scientific merits or lack thereof. And now you know why I’m underwhelmed by the latest “global warming study of the week.”

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