Employees Spend Less Than 40 Percent Of The Day Doing Productive Work, And Here's Why It Isn't Their Fault

For all the time you spend at work, you might not actually be getting that much done, if the 2016 U.S. State of Enterprise Work Report from Workfront is anything to go by. The survey found that the amount of time employees spend actually working is shockingly low: A meager 39 percent of their total workday. And the surprising thing is, this lack of productivity doesn’t seem to be a matter of laziness — workers aren’t just sitting around watching YouTube and goofing off with coworkers on Gchat. (I mean, they are probably doing some of that, too, because they are human, but that doesn’t seem to be the source of the problem.) The real issues seem to be pointless meetings and busywork.

For its 2016 report, Workfront surveyed 606 employees who work at large companies. Oddly, the number of hours that people work has gone up, even as their productivity has gone down. In 2015, employees worked an average of 44.3 hours per week, a number that’s gone up to 45.1 in the last year. But at the same time, the percentage of work hours spent actually working has decreased, from 46 percent in 2015 to 39 percent in 2016.

Why are workers spending less than 40 percent of their job time doing their primary jobs? The survey results suggest that meetings are a big part of it. Respondents estimated that they spend 21 percent of their work time in meetings, and described almost half of those meetings as “wasteful.” Emails are also a major time suck, taking up 16 percent of the workday, while administrative tasks eat up another 11 percent. Is it any wonder that many employees are struggling to find time to really work?

When asked what might help them to have more hours in the workday to perform their primary duties, a quarter of respondents said they’d like to have “uninterrupted blocks of time” in which to work, and 23 percent said they want “more efficient work processes.” Perhaps surprisingly, most employees don’t actually feel unproductive, despite the interruptions that get in the way of their work. Of the study’s 606 participants, 92 percent agreed with the statement “I feel I’m productive at my job.”

You can check out Workfront’s full report here.

Images: ALTO IMAGES/Stocksy; Giphy