Average Workday Analysis

Part
01
of one
Part
01

Average Workday Analysis - Work Related Tasks Break Down

A deep search in the public domain shows that most employees engage in doing real work for only 3 hours a day. Each week, workers spend about 5 hrs 3 minutes in meetings and about 4 hrs 15 minutes for preparing for them. Below are our findings and methodology.

How enterprise workers spend their time:

  • Performing primary job duties: 45%
  • Email: 14%
  • Admin tasks: 12%
  • Useful meetings: 9%
  • Interruptions: 8%
  • Wasteful meetings: 7%
  • Everything else: 6%

How workers in back-office operations spend their time:

How knowledge workers spend their time:

  • Performing primary job duties: 40%
  • Email: 16%
  • Admin tasks: 12%
  • Useful meetings: 10%
  • Interruptions: 8%
  • Wasteful meetings: 8%
  • Everything else: 6%

Additional useful findings:


RESEARCH STRATEGY

We could find a detailed infographic from 2014 and information on the time spent on work activities, organizing, and arranging meetings. However, we could not find any current detailed breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. To find the information, we used the following strategies.

We started the research by searching for any direct information through government reports and publications around the breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. The idea here was to find any hard statistics or data around how employees spend time in the office around the following points as highlighted in the research criteria:
  • One: Planning and doing individual work versus
  • Two: Being in meetings and/or training seminars versus
  • Three: Giving presentations versus
  • Four: In brainstorm and collaboration sessions versus
  • Five: Organizing versus
  • Six: On break or lunch versus
  • Seven: Talking about non-work related stuff
We came across a report published by the BLS that provides information on how the U.S. employees spend their entire day (24 hours) for different activities including work and personal activities, however, it does not provide any detailed breakdown of hours spent during work. Additionally, we looked for any research or academic papers that would provide any useful information, insights, data, and statistics surrounding the breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. Some sources we referred to included Research Gate, World Research Library, Academia, and Harvard Business Review, among others. However, no such research or academic papers could be found that would provide any detailed breakdown of a typical workday. Most of the articles found through this strategy are similar to an article published by Harvard Business School which provides information on idle hours spent by workers, however, it does not provide any detailed breakdown of hours spent during work.
Since no comprehensive breakdown was available through any credible sources, we started to search for any information on the time spent on various activities as mentioned in the research criteria. The idea here was to track the average time spent on each of the activities and then add them up to provide a detailed breakdown. We searched for any survey results published by companies working in the HR, recruitment or similar fields since such companies publish employee and work-related statistics in the U.S. We came across a survey published by Salary website which provided information on how many hours employees waste during their working hours. Similarly, we also came across another infographic published by Daily Muse which again only provides information on the time wasted during work hours. However, as noted in the strategy document, we are only supposed to provide information on the division of time-based on various work activities, not the time wasted, hence, this information could not be useful. Further, we came across two infographics published by the Atlassian and AskCody that only provide information on the time spent by employees in organizing and attending meetings, however, it does not include any information on other activities or the breakdown of the entire eight-hour workday. Additionally, we came across an article published by Inc website titled “Most Salaried Employees Only Do About 3 Hours of Real Work Each Day”. However, no other surveys could be found that would cover other activities such as presentations, brainstorming, and organizing, among others. Thereby, this attempt of triangulation did not succeed.
Since limited information was available on the overall U.S. workforce, we searched for any industry-specific information, insights, data, and statistics surrounding the breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. The idea here was to find information on many industries and calculate the average and provide a breakdown for the overall U.S. workforce. We came across a report published by Nice which provides a limited breakdown of the time spent in back-end operations. Similarly, we came across another article published by Talent Culture which provides detailed information on knowledge workers. However, no other industry-specific report or article could be found that could be used to calculate an average for the overall U.S. workforce. In addition, the findings from these two sources found through this strategy have categorized the activities differently. Thereby, these insights could now be aggregated to address the overall U.S. workforce.
Since limited recent information was available pertaining to the U.S. workforce, we extended our research scope beyond our standard two-year timeline. The idea here was to find any detailed breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work through most recent sources beyond a two-year timeline. We came across an article published by Entrepreneur website which provides a detailed breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. Although the article was published in 2014, it provides the exact information as requested in the research strategy.
Thereby, after exhausting the above-mentioned strategies, we concluded that there is no recent detailed breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work. However, we could provide an infographic on a detailed breakdown from 2014.
NOTE: The reasons we could not find any recent information on the breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work:
  • One of the probable reasons for the unavailability of such information could be that companies publishing such information are focusing on more pressing issues such as time wasted.
  • It could also be possible that no detailed survey has been conducted since 2014 to cover a detailed breakdown of how an average office worker in the United States spends their day at work.

Sources
Sources