400 million days a year are wasted by UK employees on unnecessary tasks

6 years ago

400 million days a year are wasted by UK employees on unnecessary tasks

Responding to hundreds of emails, attending meetings for the sake of it and completing unnecessary admin all add up to 441,827,088 days a year of time wasting according to new research.

60 per cent of 2,040 UK employees admitted they spend at least half a day per week on tasks they see as a waste of time in the office.

The study was launched in the ‘Productivity in the Workplace’ report and commissioned by Red Letter Days For Business. It explores the ways in which firms can tackle UK productivity issues.

The research has been released shortly after the Office for National Statistics revealed figures showing that hourly output of UK workers fell 0.5% in the first three months of the year meaning that productivity has dropped back to pre-financial crisis levels. It is the first fall in productivity since the end of 2015 according to ONS.

What are the top five office time wasters?

Respondents claimed that:

  1. Too many meetings take place and go on for too long (46%)

  2. Too much admin (38%)

  3. Too many emails (29%)

  4. People management i.e. misbehaving colleagues (25%)

  5. Technology is slow (24%)

  6. A micromanaging boss (21%)

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%) of employees said they waste time every week at work completing admin such as their timesheets

  • Two fifths (40%) of employees said they receive between 26 – 75 emails every day

  • Nearly half (45%) of employees said they have so many emails that they have to respond out of their contracted working hours to keep up

  • A quarter (26%) 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, said:

“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.”

“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.”

What can be done to improve productivity?

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%)

  2.  Better technology (19%)

  3. A happy workplace (17%)

  4. Increased job satisfaction (15%)

  5. Better recognition from senior management (14%)


Lucy Liddiard