This was a cross-cubicle conversation topic earlier this week. Salary.com apparently has time enough to waste which allowed them to complete the 2007 Wasting Time Survey.
Across all workers, 1.7 hours of an 8.5 hour workday is wasted on tasks like arranging doctor’s appointments, socializing with co-workers, and using the Internet for personal purposes. As age increases, less time is spent on these personal tasks.
In this year’s survey, 20- to 29-year-olds said they waste an average of 2.1 hours per day. The amount of idle time drops off as employees grow older, with the 30-39 age group reporting 1.9 hours of the day wasted and 40- to 49-year-olds reporting 1.4 hours.
“Older employees tend to have a very strong work ethic,” said Bill Coleman, Salary.com’s chief compensation officer. Coleman added that more seasoned workers understand certain humdrum office tasks, like all-day meetings, have value that may not be readily apparent.
I don’t think it’s a matter of work ethic. In general, older employees have more workplace responsibilities than younger. With that job responsibility comes more work-related tasks to accomplish in the day.
While 13.9 percent said they slack off because their hours are too long, large segments also reported that they don’t have enough work to do (17.7 percent) or their work isn’t challenging enough (11.1 percent).
The last two points sound like good reasons to go to management and ask for more work or more challenging work. That’s a good career move.
When hours are long and more than a typical 9-to-5 workday is expected, it must also be expected that employees need to find time to balance their personal life. If you take your work home as many people do, the company must provide some leeway for taking home-related tasks to the office.
Additionally, socializing with co-workers has a huge positive effect on team morale and overall productivity. If you are able to enjoy the company of the people with whom you interact day in and day out, you will be motivated to work harder.
That being said, it is possible to waste too much time on socialization.
How does your workplace compare with the average 1.7 hours of “wasted” time?
Published or updated August 3, 2007.