Knowledge Workers' Productivity

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Knowledge Workers' Productivity

According to a publication by Zapier, about 31% of knowledge workers in the U.S. do not work remotely because their employers do not permit it. However, about 95% of knowledge workers want to work remotely as 42% of them think they are more productive working from home.

Knowledge Workers Working Hours Per Week

  • According to a publication by Harvard Business School, knowledge workers spent about 41% of their daily hours on discretionary activities in 2013. A breakdown of how they spend their workday can be found below.
  • A more recent report (2019) by Zapier reports that knowledge workers spend 9.6 hours a day at work. Of these hours, the report hints that 3.8 hours are spent on busy work while 5.8 hours are spent on meaningful work on average.


Comparing Time Spent on Communication Against Time Spent Doing Actual Work

Time Spent on Communication
  • A 2018 survey report by Rescue Time of over 500 knowledge workers from companies of different sizes established that Knowledge workers spend 29% (about 2.25 hours) of their workday on communication through email and instant messengers.
Time Spent Doing Actual Work
  • A separate publication by Rescue Time reported that as of 2019, knowledge workers in the U.S. spend over 5 hours each day on their computers. This excludes "time spent in meetings, on calls, or checking email and Slack on a mobile device (which, according to different studies, can add anywhere from 50-100% more time to your workday)."
  • On average, knowledge workers spent about 2 hours and 48 minutes each day or 14 hours and 8 minutes a week on productive tasks in 2018.
  • However, the research found that they are distracted with about 40% of knowledge workers not being able to get 30 straight minutes of focused time in a workday.

Average Salary of Knowledge Workers

  • According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of a knowledge worker is about $29,050.
  • This is corroborated by a publication by Connotate which estimated the annual salary to be about $30,000.
  • A report by Apartment List revealed that the average post-rent wage of knowledge workers in the U.S. rose by 5.7% between 2005 and 2015 from $72,880 to $77,070 respectively.

Research Strategy

To provide a robust comparison of the productivity of knowledge workers in the U.S. over the past decades, the team embarked on an extensive search through expert publications, credible business review sources such as Harvard Business Review, and report from large consultancies in the U.S. and around the globe. While some the requested area of focus was found for recent years, historical data that would reveal how they have changed are largely unavailable. We found data on how many hours knowledge workers work per day, the number of time they spend communicating with others and the number of hours they spend doing actual work, and the average salary. However, data points for the last several decades were not found from public sources.
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