2007 Wasting Time Survey from Salary.com

The 3rd annual Salary.com “Wasting Time Survey” for 2007 reports that the average employee wastes 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour work day.  Salary.com reports that figure is down from the 2.09 hours wasted per day in 2005.  The #1 culprit of wasted time?  Internet use at 34.7%.  Followed by socializing with co-workers (20.3%) and conducting personal business (17.0%).  Over 63 percent of respondents admitted to wasting time at work.  The 20-29 year olds waste almost twice as much time (2.1 hours) compared to 40-49 year olds (1.4 hours).  Keep in mind this does not take into account how much work people are doing at home and on weekends, however.  What, do you think people aren’t conducting business while at home?  Of course they are!  In my opinion, they might be asking the wrong questions.

It’s interesting that wasted time has declined 19 percent since the first survey in 2005.  Yes, you can point to a growing economy and increases in productivity.  But is it possible that people are wasting less time because they want to get things done more quickly and get the heck out of dodge?  Are they deciding they are going to control their technology better, rather than letting it control them?  I believe it’s the beginning of a backlast against the corporation that is happy to work people to death.  Workers have had it with the years of their personal lives suffering, and a rebellion is building.  As I forewarned years ago, the pendulum is swinging the other way.  With a tightening labor market, skilled workers will be at a premium and will start to call the shots on when, where, and how much they will work.  By reducing wasted time at the office, they can get the results they need, do it in less time, and get home to their lives.  A win/win for employer and employee.

What will the results show in 2008?  How low can we go?  Well, we can’t eliminate all “wasted” time.  People aren’t robots.  All socializing isn’t bad.  Some is necessary for relationship building and stronger teams.  Let them get on the Internet and buy a birthday gift for a spouse.  Who cares.  They go back home and log back in and continue working anyway.  Employers will have to get hip pretty quickly with the way people are working if they want to keep the best and the brightest.  Maybe they are wasting time because they are underpaid or there are system problems or computer issues or politics or horrible meetings or a lack of challenging work.  I wonder what the results would be if we turned the tables and surveyed the management on what they do to slow down their employees and cause them to waste time?  You think?



  1. I think it’s a good sign that people are slowly becoming aware of the value of time as they grow old.
    It’s true that younger employees waste more time than older employees. I think it’s because they’re not as active minded as young people who are not yet used to the daily routine of their work.

  2. Some so called “work” is also a waster of time. For example, my entire office just moved to a new facility where I had to attend a mandatory training program on the use of our new VOIP phones. It was scheduled to start at 11:00. At about 11:06 I suggested to the trainer that we go ahead and get started as many of us had better things to do. She stated that she liked to start 5 to 10 minutes late because latecommers miss material and disrupt the training (no latecommers showed up). She was also bent on making the training “fun” and spent a good deal of time cracking jokes and telling irrelevent stories. The class finally ended at 12:15 (15 minutes longer than scheduled). We could have easily covered the material in 30 minutes or less. Operating a VOIP phone is not rocket science. They are very similar to our old phones and to how cell phones are used. We are an IT organization afterall. Moral: meetings can still be fun but if you start on time and stick to the agenda, much time can be saved.

  3. I think young employees waste more time because of their extra activities. While older employees waste less time because of the experiences they had with wasting time.

  4. Actually, I think it’s simpler than both above premises: young people feel they have all the time in the world. Older people know they do not.