We Waste A Lot Time (and Money)

We Waste A Lot Time (and Money)

How much time do you spend actually working at work? If you could break it down by the hour, would you say each one of those hours is fully committed to your responsibilities?

Heck no. Nobody does that. The truth is, almost everyone wastes a little time at work each day.

For some data on the subject, we can turn to one of the most frequently cited surveys of workplace tomfoolery by Salary.com, a compensation data resource. Responses from more than 750 people indicated about 89% of us waste time at work every single day. In fact, wasting time is so prominent it’s got us wondering about the veracity of the remaining 11% of responders.

Salary.com found that:

  • 31% of people waste roughly 30 minutes daily
  • 31% waste roughly 1 hour daily
  • 16% waste roughly 2 hours daily
  • 6% waste roughly 3 hours daily
  • 2% waste roughly 4 hours daily
  • 2% waste 5 or more hours daily

That’s a whole lot of payroll hours wasted. If roughly two-thirds of your employees are wasting between 30 minutes to an hour each day, five days a week (or more), what’s that costing your company?

It’s kind of a scary thought. To help curb some of the losses, we’ve compiled a look at three key areas where you should focus in your mission reduce wasted time.



Meetings are one of the most common and most expensive wastes of time. If your meetings mirror national averages, then they’re probably costing you a lot.

According to data compiled by Attentiv, a business communications platform, the length of the average meeting is between 31 and 60 minutes. Generally, participants consider about 33.4% of that time to be unproductive, so about 15-20 minutes is wasted. Add that up by the hourly pay of all the participants, and you can almost feel the dollars going out the window on the breeze.

Data published by Verizon Business found the average cost for a meeting to be about $527 for a Fortune 500 company and about $412 for regular firms. At that total, that would mean regular companies waste about $138 per meeting.

For executives and other business leaders, the expense is much greater. The Harvard Business Review reported that executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings. If up to a third of that is wasted, the total dollar amount lost could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.



If you feel like talking to your neighboring co-worker about your family plans this weekend, don’t. Your casual interruption might only take a minute, but it’s part of a larger problem that’s way more expensive than people realize.

According to data published by Dovico, an employee timesheet software platform, the average worker gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes. This can be anything – an email, a phone call, someone asking you a question, etc. At first these things might seem innocuous, but they eat up a lot of time. The average interruption takes 5 minutes, totaling about 4 hours or 50% of the average workday.

Some interruptions are understandably important, but most aren’t. As much as 80% of typical interruptions are of little value, which wastes up to 3 hours of our daily time.


The Internet

Everybody loves dog videos until they’re the ones putting together the payroll deposits for that week. The internet is, unfortunately, one of our greatest tools and one of our biggest distractions at work.

26% of people in Salary.com’s survey said their biggest overall time-wasting activity was browsing the internet during work, which was the largest share out of all other activities.

The Muse, a company and career research outlet, compiled data that found up to 64% of workers admit using the internet for personal purposes during work hours. Also, 60% of workers have made online purchases during work and 65% of workers have watched YouTube. A whopping 77% of Facebook users have used it during work hours.

How many hours are being wasted? It varies from person to person, but Salary.com found that:

  • 39% of people waste an hour or less per week online at work
  • 29% waste up to 2 hours per week
  • 21% up to 5 hours
  • And 3% waste 10 or more hours

While the internet sure is a fun, interesting place, even we have to admit 10 hours of dog videos might be a little bit excessive.


Are We Getting Any Work Done?

With all of these time wasters devouring so many of our working hours, it’s a wonder that we get any work done at all. Companies need to implement controls for each of the expensive activities listed here. Every minute you can save from being wasted is a dollar you saved too.

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Category Features, Finance