Procrastination at work has its pros

There can be certain hidden benefits of procrastination at the workplace—a little more time can actually improve the work quality.

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Procrastination has been long considered, one of the greatest hurdles people face while trying to accomplish tasks. Although a pressing load of work is waiting to be done, people often tend to avoid tackling it. Moreover, they are also aware that by not working on it, they will face consequences that will impact their performance.

This tendency surfaces very early on in our lives, but we realise it only when it looms large — in high school or college, and at work, when it becomes our dual personality.

In a business organisation, a line manager is responsible to get work done by a bunch of people. Should the manager allow her/his people to procrastinate? Can procrastination have some benefits at the workplace or is it just an actual waste of precious time?

When employees are given some flexibility, to ponder over their tasks, and to overthink, they sometimes come up with rather creative procedures that can be very significant for the organisation.

Rajorshi Ganguli

“Procrastination is typically  advantageous in case of negotiations and disputes”

Another instance where a delay to act can be beneficial in a business scenario, is at the time of negotiations. Taking some extra time helps to calm the other party. Here, being patient actually helps to close the negotiation in a favourable way. Also, in the case of disputes, by not reacting quickly, the tide can change to benefit both parties. “This typically is advantageous in case of union negotiations. Whether you call it procrastination or delay in responding, taking time to give a response helps to influence the decision in such scenarios,” says Rajorshi Ganguli, president and global head HR, Alkem Laboratories.

Ganguli adds, “Personally my temperament and working style is such that I would like to make sure, the deadlines are met promptly. We have to be careful that procrastination does not become a habit.”

“With mindfulness becoming a part of their daily lives, employees are able to overcome procrastination at work. They are more alert and aware of their deadlines, commitment, and repercussions”

Procrastination has been a subject of many studies and some of them have shown, that there are certain positive effects of finishing tasks at the last minute. When people are chasing deadlines, they become very efficient with high degrees of focus and attention span. The body also releases adrenaline, which provides immense energy to the brain.

In some organisations, where the culture demands promptness, managers are bound to expect their teams to submit their work a little ahead of the deadline. In such workplaces, delays due to procrastination are not acceptable.

Harshvendra Soin, CPO, Tech Mahindra, says, “Our organisation is high on action orientation, and we want our people to have competencies to execute work. But, as a part of our leadership agenda, we do allow mindfulness.”

Tech Mahindra encourages its employees to practise mindfulness as a leadership-building skill. Mindfulness-based skills can be integrated into our daily lives to reduce stress, manage pain, enhance sleep, strengthen positive qualities, and improve the overall quality of life.

“With mindfulness becoming a part of their daily lives, employees are able to overcome procrastination at work. They are more alert and aware of their deadlines, commitment, and repercussions,” says Soin.

He adds, “The DNA of our organisation is correlated to the sector in which we work. In technology, there is no room to procrastinate. We drive positive change and enable all movements.”

Procrastination helps us to overthink an activity in our minds. Even while we are not doing these tasks, we are thinking about them all the time. This may help the mind devise certain creative ideas, which would not have been the case had we jumped immediately into the project at the very onset.

When there is a challenging task at hand, procrastination helps us prepare ourselves and gear up for it. By giving it some time, our bodies devise mechanisms to cope with the pressure that comes with the difficulty in the task.

While procrastrination is a personal trait that people have, in a business organisation, it provides a unique balance. Every team has a place for both precrastinators and procrastinators!