We all know the feeling: you’re looking for the latest statistics on time wasted at work, but you can’t find anything that’s right for you.
You’re a busy person—we know that. You have so many things to do, and you want to get them done as quickly as possible. But we also know that you’re not going to be able to do all of those things if you don’t have the right information. And when it comes to finding the right information, we’ve got your back.
We’ve created a list of stats on time wasted at work that is going to help you make better decisions about your productivity and time management. You’ll be able to use this list to inspire yourself and others to take action and get more done than ever before!
Time Wasted at Work Statistics (Key Takeaways)
- US employees waste around 2.9 hours of their workday.
- Interruptions at work cost the US economy a whopping $1 trillion every year.
- At 61.54%, employees in the broadcasting and journalism industry waste most of their workday online.
- Businesses lose a staggering $13,202.88 per employee because of repetitive tasks.
- Only about 60 percent of your workday is actually spent working.
- For 24% of employees, Google is the number-one online time-waster.
- A fantastic 77% of employees shop during working hours.
- 80% of workplace distractions happen because of chatty colleagues.
- US employees spend an average of 31 hours a month attending unproductive meetings.
General Time Wasted at Work Statistics
1. US employees waste around 2.9 hours of their workday.
In an 8-hour work day, the average US employee spends around three hours doing something that is entirely unrelated to their job responsibilities. Data reveals that employees in the US earn around $153.04 per day, $39.98 of which is earned during those minutes of idleness.
Additionally, 44.7% of employees waste time on online activities, including surfing the web for personal needs, 23.4% admit to socializing with their colleagues, while 3.9% say they just need space. Another 1.3% say they are applying for new jobs on company time.
To prevent this, 31% of employers install website blockers to keep their employees from visiting sites during the workday. This can be anything from blocking access to a certain site or app altogether to restricting the number of times you can visit a site in a given period of time (for example, only allowing you to use Facebook four times per day).
While this is effective in some cases, many find it ineffective as this may prompt employees to use their smartphones instead, which could lead them to waste more time.
(Business Chief, Paychex)
When it comes to how much time employees waste at work, a survey conducted with more than 3,200 people showed nearly one-fourth lose an hour of their workday on activities unrelated to work, and another 29% admitted to wasting up to two hours doing things unrelated to their job.
In addition, 21% admitted to wasting five hours, and just 3% reported spending more than ten hours on personal affairs.
3. Interruptions at work cost the US economy a whopping $1 trillion every year.
Research conducted by the University of California revealed that the average US employee is interrupted every 3 minutes and 5 seconds. In order to get back on track, the typical office worker wastes another 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
Ultimately, such interruptions not only drain the US economy but result in over 28 billion hours of time wasted at work.
(The Washington Post)
4. 40% of the time spent on the clock is wasted.
While less than 60% of the workday is spent productively, a study found that for 20% of workers, the reason why they are slacking is that they find their job boring. Another 53% believe that if they do things that are not work-related, like taking short breaks, they will become more productive.
In addition, 8% of workers cited lack of incentive as the reason for slacking, while 7% mentioned they don’t like their job that much. Finally, 2% believe they should be paid more which is why they don’t bother over their work that much.
5. At 61.54%, employees in the broadcasting and journalism industry waste most of their workday online.
The online world is a vast and wonderful place with all sorts of distractions, so it should come as no surprise that the broadcasting and journalism industry reports the highest amounts of time wasted online.
The tech industry ranks second, with 60.47% of employees admitting they waste time online, followed by the science industry with 57.97% and the publishing industry with 57.14%.
The industries that waste the least amount of time online are transportation and warehouse at 29.03%, wholesale and retail at 24.73%, and hotel, food services, and other hospitality at 16.98%.
6. Businesses lose a staggering $13,202.88 per employee because of repetitive tasks.
Repetition is the mother of learning, but when the learning process ends, and employees are left doing mundane tasks on a daily basis, it results in a staggering 520 hours of work waste, which could easily be avoided if automation was introduced.
In fact, studies find that the national hourly wage combined with the hours spent doing repetitive tasks cost businesses a massive $1.8 trillion a year.
Data also indicates that 33.9% of employees do manual tasks and waste around an hour of their workday, while another 34.1% spend up to two hours on tasks that are not essential and can be automated.
At the end of the day, even though 40% say they don’t know how this matter can be resolved, a significant 20.2% see automation as a solution.
7. 44% of employees confirm Fridays are the days with the most time wasted at work.
“Thank God it’s Friday” is perhaps the favorite hashtag of employees, but statistics prove that it’s also the day when they waste the most time at work. Namely, nearly half of them confirm that they get the least work done on this day of the week. In fact, 3 PM to 5 PM is the happy hour for time-wasters.
Mondays come second with 18% confirming 1 PM to 3 PM is when not many things get done. On the other side of the spectrum, Tuesday mornings are the most productive parts of the week, with most employees at their best from 9 AM to 11 AM.
Statistics on How Employees Waste Time at Work
8. Employees spend around 10% of their workday consulting with colleagues.
Looking at the above figure from an hourly perspective, it turns out that the average employee loses 45 minutes of their 7.5-hour workday providing and receiving guidelines.
With this rate of time waste, a company of 300 employees with an average wage of $20/hr loses around $1,080,000 annually.
9. Around 60% of employees are on Facebook when they’re supposed to be working.
In fact, almost 90% of employees using this platform while on the job cannot provide a valid work-related reason why they’re logged in.
Studies reveal that the average person spends 15 minutes a day on Facebook, and if they spend the same amount of time at work, it adds up to around five hours a month, resulting in a 1.5% decrease in employee productivity.
(The Arizona Republic)
10. For 24% of employees, Google is the number-one online time-waster.
When employees waste time online, it is usually because they’re spending time on social media, but according to a study by Salary.com, Google is the main villain of the story. The research ranks Facebook as second, with 23% of US employees wasting their work day there, while LinkedIn ranks third with 14%.
Yahoo is also considered a distraction, as 7% of employees admit to spending a significant amount there. Other sites like Amazon, YouTube, and ESPN are represented by 2% each, and Pinterest, Twitter, and Craigslist each come at 1%.
11. 77% of employees shop at least once a week during business hours.
Indulging oneself is nice, but according to a survey, many employees waste a good amount of their workday on it.
Namely, 60% admitted they’ve taken a nap, and 49% have had some kind of alcoholic beverage while on the clock. Another 42% admitted they’ve been on a date, and a winning 41% have had sexual intercourse on the job.
Finally, only 23% admitted they sometimes indulge in a quick break to meet with friends or family.
12. 52% of employers cite smartphones and texting as the number one workplace productivity killers.
The internet ranks second at 44%, followed by gossip and social media at 37% and 36%, respectively. Email is a productivity killer, according to 31% of employers, and so are coworkers dropping by and snack/smoke breaks for 27% each. 26% of employers agree that meetings are one of the biggest productivity killers at work, followed by noisy coworkers and sitting in cubicles at 17% and 10%, respectively.
CareerBuilder’s research also revealed some of the most bizarre things employees have done on the job. From taking a sponge bath in the bathroom sink, napping on the boss’s couch, and flying drones in the office to having a relaxed vodka day while watching Netflix, it seems workers are not really working hard but hardly working, or so say their statements.
13. 80% of workplace distractions happen because of chatty colleagues.
According to Udemy’s poll, after chatty coworkers, the second most commonly cited workplace distraction is office noise–buzzing in the ears of 70% of respondents. Workplace changes and the stress related to the process are an issue for 61% of employees, while meetings are an inconvenience for 60%.
As a result:
- 54% say this impacts their performance
- 50% agree it impacts their productivity
- 20% believe it is the reason for their lack of career advancement
Slacker or not, workplace distractions are annoying, and for 34% of employees, it’s the reason why they don’t like their job.
14. The average employee needs 16 minutes to refocus after reading or responding to an email.
The average employee receives a total of 304 business emails every week, making them check their inbox 36 times in a single hour.
What’s more, simply managing emails (most of which are irrelevant, spam, or poorly composed) not only makes them less productive but also reduces their IQ by 10 points, or what scientifically equals a good night’s sleep.
There are financial and productivity costs, too. In fact, companies lose an average of $1,250 per employee because of spam emails, another $1,800 due to emails marked as irrelevant, and between $2,100 to $4,100 per employee because of poorly composed emails.
When it comes to the impact of doing non-work related activities, studies show that 44% of employees have received some form of a warning from their employers for doing something which was not related to their job.
Moreover, 39% reported they’ve lost their job because they were focused on things other than their actual job, and 28% said doing such things had a negative effect on their performance.
16. US employees spend an average of 31 hours a month attending unproductive meetings.
Most employees attend 62 meetings per month, and half of these are believed to be a waste of their precious workday.
Data reveals that a massive 96% of employees missed going to the scheduled meetings, 91% daydreamed their way through them, and 73% used the time to do other things.
Furthermore, 47% attended a meeting so they could complain about how much time they were wasting on account of it, 45% said they have too many meetings, and 39% dozed off at the venue.
The results of such overloaded meeting agendas are not only causing the workforce to waste time but also costing businesses a fortune, $37 billion to be exact.
17. 44.2% of those who were working remotely because of COVID admitted to wasting time on non-work activities.
The pandemic was tough on everyone, especially people who were forced to work from home because of it.
An additional 33.6% said they wasted the same amount of time regardless of the work location, while 22.2% said they are doing less procrastinating than usual.
Men, compared to women, were bigger procrastinators, as 47% reported a significant increase in non-work related activities.
Demographics of Work Time Wasters
18. Men (91%) are more likely than women (87%) to waste time at work.
Specifically, single men between the ages of 20 and 30 are considered the biggest offenders of the workday. But women are slackers too, as 87% of them admitted they were killing time in the office and avoiding their job responsibilities.
Regarding age, at 1%, 18 to 25 years old are the least likely to engage in workday-wasting activities. The age group with the highest inclination to not work while at work are employees aged 26 to 32, represented by 95%.
Also, 91% of singles and 88% of married people are more likely to do the same. Divorced people come third with 85%.
19. 52.6% of Baby Boomers reported working more than eight hours a day.
According to a study done by Paychex, Baby Boomers are the hardest working generation, with more than half reporting working over eight hours daily. Generation X employees come second, with 43.5% of respondents declaring they work the whole eight-hour workday and more. Only 33.6% of Millennials gave the same statement.
Millennials and Gen Z are the most likely age groups to report being distracted at work, with 74% of them saying they get distracted often.
The poll further examined which generation works only four hours or less on an average workday, and conveniently enough, Millennials take the lead with 5.7%. The same applies to 5% of Gen Xers and 4.3 % of Baby Boomers.
20. 78% of Millennials find using tech for personal activities more distracting than using tools at work.
A little over a third of Millennials and another 36% of Gen Zers admitted to spending at least two hours of their workday or ten hours a week on their smartphones. So when asked how distracting using tech for personal activities is, 78% of Millennials, 57% of Gen Xers, and 43% of Baby Boomers agreed this was a major issue.
Using tech for work purposes is also a distraction, or at least this is what 57% of Baby Boomers and 43% of Gen Xers agree to. With 22%, Millennials are the age group that feels most comfortable using tech for work purposes.
21. 49% of men admitted to working for another company during their workday.
Additionally, 55% of men have missed an important deadline at least once because they were doing something else, and a whopping 56% said they’ve started consuming alcohol while on the job.
But it appears Millennials are also into mischief while on the clock as 48% revealed they have worked for another company and 56% have taken a day off without informing their supervisor.
22. For 71% of Baby Boomers and 69% of Gen Xers, Facebook is the number-one online distractor at work.
Studies show that online distractions (Facebook in particular) are causing the most trouble at work for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Among Millennials, the distraction level is lower at 58%.
However, Facebook is not the only platform that tempts employees across generations.
For 15% of Millennials and 9% of Gen Xers, Instagram ranks second. Twitter, on the other hand, is an issue for 11% of Baby Boomers and 7% of Gen Xers. And finally, 11% of Millennials and 4% of Gen Xers spend time on Snapchat while at work.
23. At 16.1%, administrative staff waste the most time at work.
Looking at employees by role, 52% of skilled laborers lose less than an hour of their work day for activities that are not related to their job. Middle management ranks second with 45.6%, upper management third with 43.6%, and trained professionals come fourth with 43.4%.
On the other hand, the support staff is ranked last with 43.2%, but another 9.3% of them come second on the list of staff that wastes three or more hours of their work day. Middle management and upper management are also listed with 8.8% and 7.5%, respectively, as both groups admitted to avoiding their job responsibilities for three hours or longer.
24. 100% of employees in finance and banking said they waste time at work every day.
The arts, media, and entertainment industry ranks second, with 95% of employees wasting time at work, followed by the construction industry with 94%. Furthermore, nine out of ten government workers admitted to being idle at work.
25. 51.5% of Ph.D.-holding employees work more than the usual eight hours.
Data points to trade, technician, and vocational workers as the second group of employees that is least inclined to waste time at work. 51% of them work overtime and report little time loss on trivial affairs. Employees with Master’s degrees follow with 37.5%.
So there you have it—all of the statistics about time wasted at work that we could find.
If you’re anything like us, you probably spend a lot of time at work. And if you’re like most people, you probably feel like it’s not enough—that there are always more emails to answer, more projects to complete, and more tasks to cross off your list.
But every once in a while, we all need to step back and look at how much time we’ve actually wasted doing things that don’t even matter. And this is why we’ve shared these statistics with you: so that together we can figure out what the problem is and how we can fix it.
Thanks for reading!
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