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Study: Employees Are Unproductive Half the Day

Half of the average employee's time is spent on e-mail and other "necessary, yet unproductive tasks," says a new report.
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Wondering exactly what your employees are doing all day? Well, at least half their time is spent on e-mail.

Workers in small and medium-sized businesses spend half the work day on "necessary, yet unproductive tasks, including routine communications and filtering incoming information and correspondence," says a report from telephony company Fonality and research firm Webtorials. (No word, though, on how much of that e-mail is personal.)

Other findings of the study, which surveyed employees in December 2010 and January 2011: Workers spend more than a third of their time (36 percent) trying to contact customers, partners or colleagues; find information, or schedule a meeting. (When, exactly, should you schedule a meeting? Another survey says Tuesday afternoon.)  Another 14 percent of an employee's day: duplicating information (forwarding emails or phone calls to confirm if fax/e-mail/text message was received) and managing unwanted communications, such as spam or unsolicited phone calls.

"We found that reducing a Knowledge Worker's [the study's term for the workers] unproductive time by 25 percent can yield an extra six weeks in productivity each year, per employee, which should be an immediate call to action for business owners," said Steve Taylor, Webtorials' editor and publisher.

Not surprisingly for a business communications company (Fonality) whose products include cloud-based services, the recommendation is—wait for it—cloud-based models. (For a review of some, click here.) The study suggests that if unified communication services that manage voice, email, et al can recover two hours a day in productivity, for a typical firm (it uses a 50-worker firm with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $110,000) the savings would be $950,000 annually. (Click here to download the report, including an appendix explaining how they arrived at those figures.)

What do you think is your employees' biggest waste of time? What is your solution?

Last updated: Mar 2, 2011

COURTNEY RUBIN

Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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