Is the entirety of your work day less productive than you’d want it to be? Are time-wasting tasks getting in the way of your success? If your answer to those questions is ‘yes’, you’re not alone. New research published in the ‘Productivity in the Workplace’ report reveals that two thirds of 2,040 UK workers spend at least half a day every week carrying out time-wasting tasks… *cough* there’s a mountain of emails waiting for you to check through as you’re reading this isn’t there?

The Time-wasters in the Office

As many would expect, emails came in the top five of time-wasting tasks which get in the way of employees’ days. Routine tasks like meetings and admin are other culprits deemed as time-wasters, alongside slow and unreliable technology and people management.

Meetings take up a lot of time in a day, and employees asked say that there’s too many of them, and they go on for too long. The research, commissioned by Red Letter Days for Business, revealed that workers spend an average 1.2 hours per working day in meetings, and that’s 6 valuable work hours a week.

A quarter of employees say admin - like filling out timesheets and various other forms - also wastes a lot of time at work, as well as that dreaded daily mountain of 26-75 (yes, 26-75 a day) emails received. Almost half admitted to responding to and organising emails out of contracted work hours just to keep it under control, which obviously gets in the way of workers’ well-deserved rest time - more on employees struggling to ‘switch off’ here.

The Solution

When asked about what strategies should be used to reduce wasted time in the office, the on-going trend of flexible working came on top, with a ‘happy workplace’, increased job satisfaction and better recognition for achievements from senior members of staff following close behind.

James Kelly, Director at Red Letter Days for Business comments: “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 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.”

While flexible working allows freedom and has proved a positive move in many offices, restrictions obviously apply. Meetings should be kept to a minimum amount of attendees – only those needed should be required to attend, while others who may be interested or included in some way could have a choice. If an employee chooses not to attend, notes and key points from the meeting can easily be forwarded. This way, the meeting serves its purpose while allowing non-essential attendees to work productively elsewhere.

Flexible working is great for employees who have children to care for, and employees who have alternate working preferences to their colleagues etc. The freedom of flexible working, if needed and beneficial to a company, is likely to lead to the other solutions respondents of the research suggested: a happy workplace and increased job satisfaction especially.

“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 Kelly.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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