This statistic comes from the Atlassian State of Teams 2024 report. The report was based on a survey of 5,000 knowledge workers and 100 Fortune 500 executives. The 5,000 knowledge workers surveyed worked across the U.S., Australia, India, Germany, and France. The mean age of the workers surveyed was 34, 60% worked at small and medium businesses, and 40% worked at enterprise organizations (I’m not sure how Atlassian defined “small”, “medium”, and “enterprise” organizations). The group of workers surveyed was split across three markets: work management, information technology service management (ITSM), and DevOps (this seems like a strange market breakdown to me, but I don’t know much about Atlassian or how they defined these markets).

Although this statistic might not be surprising to most modern office workers, I do think it is a bit sad. In general, feeling the need to respond to messages quickly makes it more difficult to focus deeply on a single task, which is often when I feel most productive and happy when working. The details from the report are relatively sparse, and I would be interested in seeing a larger sample size and a breakdown across industries and countries. I would also like to see the exact questions that workers were asked, and what the format of the questions were. Still, the fact that about 3,250 out of 5,000 knowledge workers said that it’s more important to quickly respond to messages than it is to make progress on top priorities is something to consider when thinking about improving productivity within organizations.

I wonder if there is any survey data that shows a correlation between firms that put less pressure on individual contributor knowledge workers to respond to messages quickly and firm productivity. I suspect firms that allow individual contributors to have long focused blocks of time will be more productive, but in practice any correlation is probably difficult to measure.