Dec 182014

Typing as Core Competency

Typing as Core Competency

We just had our annual typing tournament in the Return Path New York office, and it got me thinking on this topic.  Fits, hats off to my colleague Rosemary Girouard for her smashing victory this year, even with an injury, and to fellow finalists Caroline Pearl and Nicole Niemiec for excellent showings.

So this is going to sound silly, but I’m increasingly thinking that typing speed is a core competency for many jobs.  With special thanks to my 8th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Van Vranken, my typing training on an old-school typewriter has paid off.  I type 100 wpm+ on a full keyboard, about 75 wpm on a tablet, and 50 wpm on a phone.  That enables me to rip through my inbox as well as any long-form writing pretty quickly.

Does it matter?

On a spot check of my mailbox, it looks like I send about 200 emails per work day with an average of 75 words per email, or 15,000 words.  At 75 wpm (blend of devices), that means I’m spending 200 minutes typing emails, or about 3.5 hours, probably more time than that “doing email,” which includes reading and thinking.  That feels a little high, but it’s probably not too far off.  Let’s round down to 3 or even 2.5 hours.  Someone who types half as quickly, which by the way is still not bad in terms of wpm, is spending 2.5-3 hours more per day to process the same volume of email.  Someone who still does hunt-and-peck (and there are still plenty of those people out there in the business world) has to spend even more time.

That’s a pretty significant difference in terms of output capacity.  Whether it means slower typists have to clock more hours to get the same work done, they get the same work done at lower quality, or get less work done, it is an issue either for them or their companies.

Maybe someday dictation software will render the point moot, but then being a motor mouth will become a core competency!

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