UK employees waste 400 million days a year on unnecessary tasks

Research shows that businesses are missing the ‘smaller tasks’ issues and not realising the big impact these are having on the output of their employees.

New research shows UK employees spend 441,827,088 days a year on ‘time wasting’ office tasks such as responding to hundreds of emails, attending meetings for meetings sake, and completing unnecessary admin.

Two thirds (60 per cent) of 2,040 UK employees spend at least half a day every single week performing tasks they deem as time wasters in the office. The top five areas employees confirmed to restrict them from doing their job well were:

1. Too many meetings take place and go on for too long (46 per cent)
2. Too much admin (38 per cent)
3. Too many emails (29 per cent)
4. People management i.e. misbehaving colleagues (25 per cent)
5. Technology is slow (24 per cent)
6. A micromanaging boss (21 per cent)

The research, which launched today in the ‘Productivity in the Workplace’ report, was commissioned by incentive and reward experts, Red Letter Days For Business. It explores every day office tasks and considers where businesses could improve employee output per hour levels to help tackle UK productivity issues.

Exploring the top three office time wasting tasks further, the research discovered that:

· Employees spend an average of 1.2 hours every single working day in meetings, equalling six hours every week
· A quarter (22 per cent) of employees waste time every week at work completing admin such as their timesheets
· Two fifths (40 per cent) of employees receive between 26 – 75 emails every day
· Nearly half (45 per cent) of employees have so many emails that they have to respond out of their contracted working hours to keep up
· A quarter (26 per cent) of employees said every single week they have trouble finding a document because of their email volume

James Kelly, director at Red Letter Days For Business, says, ‘It seems our modern office environment has created bad habits. Technology, such as emails, should be speeding up processes not slowing them down. Something is going very wrong here. Businesses’ need to work together to retrain on areas like email etiquette in the workplace and to encourage better collaboration and efficiencies.’

The research went on to ask employees what they thought would help improve their output per hour levels. The top five answers were:
1. Flexible working (22 per cent)
2. Better technology (19 per cent)
3. A happy workplace (17 per cent)
4. Increased job satisfaction (15 per cent)
5. Better recognition from senior management (14 per cent)

‘The fact that flexible working is at number one is very interesting. Most jobs now require us to be flexible with our time; in fact nearly half (44 per cent) of employees polled confirmed they did overtime because they have a flexible role and work to complete a job, rather than work specific hours. Yet, with 57 per cent of employees confirming they only work from the office, it seems businesses need to catch up with the flexible working idea,’ continues Kelly.

Finally, the research asked employees what action their company had taken since 2015 (when the government launched its Fixing the Foundations plan) to improve productivity levels in the workplace. More than two fifths (42 per cent) say their company had done nothing.

‘Businesses need to be aware of the smaller time wasting office tasks that could be having a bigger impact than they think on output levels. Yes each business is bound to have larger issues to tackle, however, the good news is the smaller time wasting issues can easily and quickly be solved, with little, if any, investment. The positive impact of the changes could also be huge,’ finishes James Kelly.

The ‘Productivity in the Workplace: What’s the Real Problem?’ report can be downloaded here

Further reading on wasted time

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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