Wasting Time At Work Statistics: How & Why We Do It + Ways to Prevent It in 2024

Wasting time at work is something that we all do from entry-level up the ladder to executive positions. Time management is a skill that needs honing, and the less you do it, the less likely you are to continue keeping track of it. Wasting time at work statistics indicate it has been described as an ‘epidemic’ by industry experts, affecting even the most productive employees.

Top Wasting Time at Work Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • Employees check their emails up to 121 times a day.
  • 7.5 hours a week is spent browsing social media at work.
  • Even with some websites blocked, employees still spend 21 hours a week online.
  • 91% of staff admit to daydreaming in meetings.
  • More than 53% of employees believe they are more productive when taking breaks.
  • Friday is the least productive day of the week, especially between 3 PM and 5 PM.
  • Employees waste 50 days a year doing menial, repetitive tasks.

How We Waste Time at Work

Thanks to the wonderful world of technology and the internet, we can now take our work anywhere. What that also means, however, is that we take our major time-wasting habits with us. Time management stats are a goldmine for companies looking to improve their productivity and illuminate the areas that need work. So what are some of the things that are blocking our workflow?

Our Email Culture

Our reliance on email to communicate at work means that we are continually checking for new information, and on average, we do that 121 times a day, according to wasting time at work statistics. It’s one of the more prominent office time wasters, accounting for a cumulative 28% of the entire workweek. One of the ways to minimize employees’ wasting time at work is to streamline corporate communications and make emails more efficient.

Menial Jobs and Low-Value Work

Many of us spent thousands of dollars and years acquiring complex skills for our careers. Why is it then that we perform so many mundane tasks during the day? Whether it’s calculating daily reports or filling in timesheets, there are so many things eating up valuable work hours that can easily be automated. The time wasted each week on these basic and minimally productive actions is a full working day. That’s an average of 50 days a calendar year.

Using Social Media at Work

The temptation for many of us to reach over and check our notifications is an impulse that has become a habit. Wasting time at work statistics cite social media as one of the biggest culprits which place them firmly on the list of time wasters in the workplace. We spend up to an hour and a half of every workday scrolling through social media apps, totaling 7.5 hours every week.

Personal vs. Professional Communication

Communication also plays a role in how employees spend their time at work, with as much as 56 minutes a day spent texting, taking personal calls, or reading messages. While this has become a way of life for 21st-century professionals, it doesn’t mean that we can’t work towards cutting down on unnecessary personal conversations. This extends to the conversations we have with our coworkers, too. It’s important to keep chit-chat down to a minimum where possible to prevent wasting company time.

Lack of Motivation and Losing Focus

Getting distracted and a lack of motivation are among the biggest time wasters at work in many companies, according to wasting time at work statistics. Of course, we all want to be productive when we need to be, but it can be a constant battle of losing and regaining focus. According to a wasting time at work survey, some employees are distracted every 11 minutes, but it takes upward of 25 minutes to refocus.

The Internet

The very thing that has revolutionized business is also a massive time-waster at work. While many companies have implemented strict policies and blocked certain websites, internet time-wasters still find a way to spend 21 hours a week online. That’s 48% of every working day browsing websites, checking social media, and even online shopping.

Unproductive Meetings

Ironically, one of the things that are supposed to be productive for the company and its employees is one of the most prominent examples of time-wasting. Time spent in meetings statistics reveal that 11 million meetings take place every year. During these meetings, 91% of staff admit to daydreaming, 95% admit to missing meetings altogether. Wasting time at work statistics further show that 73% say they even bring unrelated work and 39% of employees fall asleep.

Poor Training Practices

Inducting new employees into the organization and familiarizing them with their new roles is crucial, but how companies are trying to do this is flawed. Workplace distractions statistics show many new hires are left feeling confused rather than enlightened following their training and have no idea how to apply all this information in their position.

A quarter of all employees say that their training is a waste of time upon completion and provides no value in their job. Time wasted on useless training costs companies millions of dollars a year and thousands on each employee individually.

Why Do We Waste Time At Work?

The psychology of wasting time at work is both simple and complex. Wasting time at work statistics show that it’s an entirely natural reaction to productivity. Whether the push factor comes from the employee or the employer, the result is always the same, less productivity, less focus, more money wasted. Here are some of the reasons for this.

We Mistake Wasting Time for Being Productive

As strange as it may sound, we think that wasting short periods will make us more productive in the long run. 53% of staff believe that taking breaks at regular intervals means increasing their work quality. You have to go all the way down to 20% for the next most significant contributor, which is boredom and a disinterest in the job. Lack of job satisfaction is at 7%, and not being paid enough is around 2%.

It Depends on the Day of the Week

Even something as intangible as a particular day of the week holds us back from being productive in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, the average time wasted at work is the highest on a Friday. Wasting time at work statistics show that 40% of the workforce admit to wasting most of their time on a Friday, with 22% saying those hours are between 3 PM and 5 PM. The other day of the week that staff wastes the most time is a Monday afternoon with 18% admitting that their productivity drops significantly after 1 PM.

Being Present Is Valued More Than Being Productive

The concept of ‘presenteeism’ is essentially looking busy without actually doing anything. Merely being in the workplace is seen as a form of productivity by many companies, which couldn’t be more wrong.

Lack of an Effective ‘Break Culture’ in the Company

Productivity stats suggest it is physically impossible for a human being to work non-stop for 8-10 hours. It’s not that we take breaks leading to a drop in productivity, but it’s how and when we take these breaks that is so crucial, wasting time at work statistics show. The top 10% of productive staff work for around 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. When you tally these minutes up, it may seem that they are wasting a large portion of their day taking breaks. But these employees use the 52 minutes so effectively that the rest becomes a non-issue.

Ways to Prevent Wasting Time at Work

To stem the tide of employees wasting time at work, we need to improve our focus and productivity. These solutions can come from two places. One is for employees to take things into their own hands and to monitor their output. The other is for businesses to implement structures and protocols to help their employees work more efficiently by streamlining specific departments.

A Happy Workforce Is a Productive Workforce

Companies that invest in their staff’s happiness and wellness are far more likely to see the productivity levels that they expect. Science says that we can sustain long periods of focus when we are happy. If we are in an emotionally healthy workplace, therefore, we perform better. Employee satisfaction can rise by up to 37% when companies care more about their staff’s emotional state and have that faith paid back many times over in better results and productivity.

Clearing and Decluttering Our Communication

We can regain and refocus our attention by rethinking our approach to communication in the workplace. To make our communication more effective, we need to start a dialogue. Wasting time at work statistics show that 84% of all employees leave their email open the entire day, and 70% of all emails are opened within 6 seconds of receiving them. The expectation of immediate replies within a corporate structure means we check our emails every 6 minutes to keep up with any developments.

Using Social Media More Effectively in the Workplace

Time-consuming websites like social media have long been a stumbling block in the quest to be more productive in the workplace, and keeping our habits in check is a surefire way to cut down on time-wasting. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t use social media to our benefit. 82% of employees believe that social media can improve work relationships, with an additional 60% saying that it positively influences the decision-making process. In some cases, a draconian attitude to social media use at work has harmed employee retention numbers without making any noticeable change to productivity levels.

Introducing Incentives That Encourage Focus

‘Incentives’ is a term that is often associated with financial remuneration, but they can be much more than a simple carrot on the end of a stick. Wasting time at work statistics indicate that one of the contributing factors to plummeting productivity is a workforce that feels marginalized.

Companies with better employee engagement show an increase of 27% in profit margins, a 50% increase in sales, with 38% of staff enjoying above-average productivity as a direct result. Taking the time to ensure that people within the company feel appreciated can also lead to a striking improvement in productivity. While 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, 77% say they would work harder when given the credit and appreciation they merited.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to stop wasting time at work?

Monitor your time management. Keeping track of how you use it is a great way to make sure you’re not wasting it. Plan and prioritize your tasks the day before or in the morning to complete the most critical tasks first. Practice being focused for more extended periods.

How much time is wasted at work?

Not everyone wastes the same amount of time, according to wasting time at work statistics. With 89% wasting any amount of time at work, 31% of employees waste around 30 minutes a day and the top 10 percentile waste upwards of 3 hours in the average workday.

How do bosses waste their employees’ time?

Bosses can often waste their staff’s time by giving instructions or assigning tasks without realizing how much work it takes to complete them. They are also prone to giving mixed signals about what is a passing comment and what is a directive.

How many hours a day do employees actually work?

The average worker clocks in 8.8 hours a day, but only a small portion of that time is actually spent working. According to studies, the time we spend being productive at work is 2 hours and 53 minutes or 39% of a working day.

Why do employees waste time at work?

Wasting time at work statistics suggest that 35% of employees waste time because they aren’t appropriately motivated, with another 34% saying that they do it because their hours are too long. An additional 32% claim they aren’t adequately incentivized, while 30% just don’t enjoy their jobs.

What are some of the things that staff do each day that waste time?

Constantly sending and receiving emails, pointless meetings with very little value and wasted resources, as well as the distraction of the internet are top time-wasters at work. 67% of employees also admit to checking their social media at work, and many say their coworkers are to blame for being distracted.

How do you address employees wasting time?

If an employee is taking liberties with company time, strategies to deal with them should be implemented while also being sympathetic to certain situations. Most companies block several popular websites to keep time wasted on the internet down. Ensure the staff is motivated correctly and incentivized.


There are more distractions around us now than probably any other time in history, and the battle for attention doesn’t show any signs of abating. Wasting time at work statistics make for worrying reading, but maybe will encourage us to make the changes required to work more efficiently. Companies must continue to look for ways of keeping employees engaged if productivity is to improve across the board.


Campaign Monitor, CIO Insight, Forbes, Media Room, New York Times, Time Doctor, Knit, Forbes, Salary.com, Salary.comThe Independent, Connect Solutions, University of Warwick, ResearchGate, Harvard Business Review, DCR Strategies