UK employees waste 400 million days a year on unnecessary office tasks

office tasks

New research out today shows UK employees spend 441,827,088 days a year on ‘time wasting’ office tasks such as responding to hundreds of emails, attending meetings for meetings sake, and completing unnecessary admin.

Two thirds of 2,040 UK employees said they spend at least half a day every single week performing tasks they deem as time wasters in the office. The top five areas employees confirmed to restrict them from doing their job well were: too many meetings take place and go on for too long, too much admin, too many emails, people management i.e. misbehaving colleagues, technology is slow and a micromanaging boss.

The research, which launched today in the “Productivity in the Workplace” report, was commissioned by incentive and reward experts, Red Letter Days For Business. It explores every day office tasks and considers where businesses could improve employee output per hour levels to help tackle UK productivity issues.

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 of employees said they waste time every week at work completing admin such as their timesheets and two fifths of employees said they receive between 26 – 75 emails every day. Nearly half of employees said they have so many emails that they have to respond out of their contracted working hours to keep up. A quarter 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.”

The research went on to ask employees what they thought would help improve their output per hour levels. The top five answers were: flexible working, better technology, a happy workplace, increased job satisfaction and better recognition from senior management.

“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,” continues Kelly.

Finally, the research asked employees what action their company had taken since 2015 (when the government launched its Fixing the Foundations plan) to improve productivity levels in the workplace. Over two fifths said their company had done nothing.

“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.

The ‘Productivity in the Workplace: What’s the Real Problem?’ report can be downloaded here.