‘Dark energy’ and ‘dark matter’ make up 95 percent of the universe and are essentially invisible. The same can be said for much of the work done by organisations today, argues Andrew Filev.

According to recent research from Wrike, half of all work is not visible to key stakeholders, and employees say there is even less visibility into work being done than their leaders believe. This disconnect can, understandably, lead to significant friction and productivity issues for teams.

The data also indicates that the ‘Dark Matter of Work’ is causing employees to spend an average of 89 days a year on ‘wasted’ work – including five days of personal time. But, due to a similar lack of visibility, more than half of workers (57%) believe their employers don’t understand just how hard they work.

Put simply, this Dark Matter flies largely under the radar. Its gravitational force, however, is taking a toll on the workforce, posing substantial challenges for both leaders and employees. To remain operationally sound, businesses must shine a light on this issue to tackle its impact.


Rising stress

Many organisations have been forced to accelerate their digital transformation journey to remain competitive. Without doing so, three quarters of business leaders believe their organisations simply would not have survived the last few years. But, while the shift to digital was entirely necessary, it significantly increased the complexity of day-to-day working. Employees are using as many as 14 different applications as the rise of remote and hybrid working has led to traditional workplace interactions being replaced with emails, chat tools, and video calls.

This growing complexity and disparate methods of collaboration make it increasingly difficult for organisations to maintain visibility over project pipelines, results, and general communications. Employees are unable to connect their work output to business goals, while team leaders struggle with resource management, and important project details become lost in a series of applications, spreadsheets, and chat messages.

It is hardly surprising then, that seven in 10 employees reported feeling stressed about having to juggle various different tasks, systems, and applications just to find the information they needed to carry out their jobs. Almost a quarter were so frustrated, they even considered leaving the organisation.
Left unchecked, the impact of the Dark Matter could potentially cost businesses their best talent. It is vital that they understand the complexities of work today, and the Dark Matter this creates, to mitigate its negative impact on the business.


Little visibility

At the heart of the Dark Matter of Work is a complex network of synchronous applications and unstructured work. This includes instant message threads and video calls, and gaps between various systems and applications. Without a single platform, powerful and versatile enough to track, manage, action, and align all of an organisation’s work to its goals, a worryingly low level of visibility will remain amongst workers and leaders.

The report found that business leaders believe they have visibility into 54 percent of the work that takes place. Employees, on the other hand, believe this is lower, at 45 percent. As a result, two thirds of leaders have encountered problems with projects that could be avoided with real-time insight into their status, while almost four in five employees have found themselves working at cross purposes with their colleagues.

It’s easy to see, then, how the impact of Dark Matter can go beyond financial or resource costs, and gradually eat away at employees’ work/life balance, manifest stress, and even result in burnout. The good news is there are ways with which organisations can counter the human impact of Dark Matter and create a healthier, happier workplace.


Single source of truth

Almost all workers state that a single source of truth capable of managing multiple complex workflows would greatly reduce stress, while ensuring their work and accomplishments are recognised. And their employers agree. According to the research, 87 percent of business function leaders have made it a top-three priority to establish a single source of truth for both the information that is created and the activity that takes place in their business function. At the same time, 86 percent of organisations plan to invest in tools such as AI and workflow automation.

To bring the Dark Matter of Work into the light, it’s vital that organisations invest in the right technology in a timely manner. By prioritising a central resource – one that offers full visibility into various workflows and applications and the data they create – an organisation can better understand its Dark Matter. This will help them control the gravitational pull of Dark Matter, exerting its influence in a more positive direction – for the business and its employees.

Andrew Filev is the Founder and CEO of Wrike.





Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike, a collaborative work management platform. Under his leadership, the company has been consistently recognised for its excellent product, tremendous growth, and top-rated work environment. Andrew has more than 20 years of experience in the technology sector and his insights on entrepreneurship, productivity, and the future of work have been featured in leading publications across the world.