Survey Says: Americans Are Slobs at Work, Costing the Economy Billions

Messy desks and a constant scramble to find misplaced items hurts productivity in the workplace, according to a new survey.

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Mess for success: A new survey finds that messy desks can cost companies billions in lost productivity.Turns out your messy desk just might be hurting the U.S. economy. And where are Americans getting all this clutter? The good news: Consumers are getting ready to spend again. The bad? If you're a brick-and-mortar retailer, they're headed online to do it. Here's a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.
Where Did I Put That?
January was "Get Organized" month. So how did you do? Are you and your employees now ship-shape and clutter-free? Chances are, not so much. According to Brother International's "P-touch Means Business" survey, each one of us loses an estimated 76 working hours each year due to disorganization in the workplace. That adds up to more than $177 billion annually in lost productivity.
Does this sound painfully familiar? Most of us (66 percent) spend up to 30 minutes a week looking for misplaced items. Office supplies, file folders, computer files and mobile phones are among the most commonly misplaced items in the workplace, according to survey respondents. Unfortunately, I can so relate.

Shoppers Spending More Online...
The growth of online shopping was big news during this past holiday shopping season, and happily it was not a flash in the pan. In the latest American Pulse Survey from BIG Research, 44.8 percent of online shoppers say they're making more online purchases than they did a year ago, and 37.8 percent are shopping in stores less.
Why is e-commerce winning out? The shoppers say online stores offer better prices, promotions and product assortments. The only area where brick-and-mortar stores dominated was customer service. Nearly half say stores provide the best customer service, compared to the almost 20 percent who prefer online customer care. As a frequent shopper, I'd say customer service is hit-and-miss. There's lots of room for improvement, both online and of.
... and Here's What They Plan to Buy

Not only are Americans shopping again, they're resolving to even spend more this year. According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, compared to 2010, more than half of consumers say they plan to spend the same (40 percent) or more (14 percent) in 2011 -- and most of that spending will be focused on themselves.

What do they plan to buy? Top categories include grooming (73 percent), health and fitness (70 percent) and clothing for themselves (61 percent). What won't they be spending on? Least popular categories include video game systems and games (34 percent), jewelry (34 percent), portable media players (32 percent) and (somewhat surprisingly to me) tablet computers or e-book readers (30 percent).

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at and visit to sign up for her free TrendCast reports.

Tags: American Express, BIG Research, Brother International, Business Trends, employee productivity, online shopping, online spending, productivity, retail, retail spending, retail trends, Rieva Lesonsky, sales, Survey Says, worker productivity

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