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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: U.S. workers say they waste 2 hours a day

U.S. workers say they squander over two hours a day at the workplace, with surfing the Web, socializing with co-workers and simply “spacing out” among the top time-wasting activities, according to a survey released on Monday.

Most U.S. companies assume about an hour of wasted time, but workers admit to actually frittering away more than twice as much time at a cost of $759 billion in annual paid salary that results in no apparent productivity, an online survey conducted by America Online and Salary.com showed.

Wasted time did not include the standard lunch hour.

Of 10,044 employee respondents, 33 percent said they engaged in time-wasting activities because they didn’t have enough work to do. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they squandered their work hours because they were underpaid.

The thing about these kinds of studies that always strikes me is that they seem to assume that a 100% efficient workday is possible. However, it isn’t. There is no way that a human being can dedicate 100% of their work time to working–and what the real reasonable percentage is will depend on the work being performed. Further, if a person takes a break to chit-chat with a co-worker, or to check ESPN.com, it may well be that the 10-15 minutes spent doing that will result in a more productive 45-50 minutes of work for the remainder of the hour than might have resulted if the person had attempted to work the entire 60 minutes in question.

Further, some days there is simply more to do than others, depending on one’s job.

Now, are some people lazy? Heck, yes. Do so some work less than they should? Of course. However, a study like this tells us very little, if anything. A measure of productivity would be far more useful than is a crude measure of the amount of time that one works. This is especially true given that a lot of people are at work, in a given day, more than 8 hours.

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7 Responses to “What, are They Surveying Bloggers?”

  1. The Misanthrope Says:

    Is there a reason why you are not commenting on Karl Rove and the leak and the white house going mum on the topic suddenly?

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    A fair question (and one I was anticipating someone asking). The simple answer is that I haven’t decided what I want to say as yet, and specifically I haven’t read everything I need to read to comment. Aside from noting the start of the Rove story on 7/2, I haven’t commented on Plame for almost a year, so I guess I am just being consistent ;)

    Don’t worry, I will get to it at some point.

  3. VARepublicMan Says:

    Awww. I expected the comments to be related to the post. Oh well. I guess I’ll make the first comment on the post.

    As a manager that runs a very loose department, I frequently must defend my management style along the lines mentioned in your post. I could crack the whip and ensure that my staff are “working” closer and closer to a full 8 hour day. Or I can hire good, professional people, demand a high standard of quality and quantity and let them choose their own work style. More work of higher quality gets done with my style. Production lines are for sissies and bean counters.

  4. Kingdaddy Says:

    Amen, brother. What’s the alter.native, a return to Taylorite time and motion analysis? Ugh.

  5. Outside The Beltway Says:

    U.S. Workers Admit Wasting 2 Hours Per Day

    According to a recent survey, U.S. workers admit to wasting two hours—our one quarter—of every eight hour workday.

    U.S. workers say they waste 2 hours a day (Reuters)

    U.S. workers say they squander over two hours a day at the workplac…

  6. PoliBlog: Politics is the Master Science » PoliBlog on CNN Says:

    [...] ey were looking for bloggers who weren’t commenting on Rove, and noted my comment on this post. No transcript online. It looks like they aren’t archiving the IP transcripts the way they [...]

  7. PoliBlog: Politics is the Master Science » PoliBlog on Rove and Plame Says:

    [...] y 14, 2005

    PoliBlog on Rove and Plame
    By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:01 pm

    As noted earlier, I have not commented on the Rove/Plame story. However, since my lack of commenting managed [...]


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