Insight & Analysis

Time to ditch the nine to five?

Published: Oct 2017

Survey of UK workers makes case for a three-hour working day.

The average office worker is productive for less than three hours a day. The rest of the time is spent procrastinating according to a survey by

The analysis of 1,989 UK office workers saw 79% admit that they do not consider themselves to be productive throughout the working day. And when asked to guess how long they are productive for the average answer was ‘2 hours and 53 minutes’.

So, what are UK workers doing for the other five hours of their working day? According to the survey, checking social media (47%) and reading news websites (45%) were the most popular. Elsewhere, the average employee admits to spending 25 minutes preparing and consuming snacks and beverages – tea rounds seem to be especially time-consuming. Nineteen percent even said they spend a lot of time looking for new jobs.

Perhaps more concerning is that over two-thirds said that they could not get through the working day without partaking in any of these distractive activities. Fifty-four percent said that it made the working day ‘more bearable’ and that their productivity for the rest of the day ‘benefited from the intermittent breaks’.

What workers are doing in the workday instead of working:
  • Checking social media – 47%
  • Reading news websites – 45%
  • Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 38%
  • Making hot drinks – 31%
  • Smoking breaks – 28%
  • Text/instant messaging – 27%
  • Eating snacks – 25%
  • Making food in office – 24%
  • Making calls to partner/friends- 24%
  • Searching for new jobs – 19%

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