Office Worker Time Spend on Various Activities

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Office Worker Time Spend Breakdown

The American office worker spends up to an average of 8.5 hours a day at work, and up to an average of three hours working at home on typical workdays. During each workday, the typical office worker will spend just under an hour commuting back and forth from work, about 4.6 hours preparing for or attending meetings, just under three hours on work-related tasks, and not quite two hours on self-entertainment/personal time.


HOW THE AVERAGE AMERICAN OFFICE WORKER SPENDS THE DAY

  • The average office worker begins and ends the workday with a 26.1 minute commute, though this is significantly longer in many major metropolitan areas.
  • During the average 8.5-hr workday, it can be estimated that the average American worker spends approximately 4.6 hours sitting in or preparing for meetings.
  • Additionally, they spend just under three hours (2 hrs 48 min) on “productive device time” in the average workday. A whopping 40.1% of the average workday is spent “multitasking with communication tools.”
  • On any given workday, the average American worker spends only 2.8 hours engaged in work tasks, and an additional two-thirds of that amount of time (1.8 hours) on personal entertainment or non-work-related activities.
  • 26% of work performed by American workers is done outside of “normal working hours,” with not quite three hours each day being spent working during non-standard hours (typically at home).

AVERAGE AMERICAN WORKER WORK-TIME BREAKDOWNS

WORKING HOURS WORKPLACE & WORKING AT HOME
  • Over the course of their lifetimes, the average American will work over 90,000 hours.
  • In America, 28% of workers begin their work days before 8:30 in the morning, while an additional 5% start before 7:00 AM. Out of 100% of work tasks performed, 26% are done outside of “normal working hours”.
  • In 2018, people with full-time jobs worked an average of 8.5 hours each weekday, and an average of 5.4 hours on each weekend day they worked. Those who hold more than one job were more likely to work weekend days.
  • On days they worked in 2018, 82% of average American workers performed all of their work in the workplace, while 24% performed some or all of their work tasks at home. Workers who performed work tasks both in the workplace and at home spent an average of 7.9 hours on the former and 2.9 hours on the latter. Workers with advanced degrees were significantly more likely to work at home (part or all of the day) on the days they worked.
  • Americans who own small businesses spend approximately 40% of each work day on non-income-generating tasks.
  • In 2017, the average American worker used about 17 days of vacation. Of note, the majority of American workers do not use all their allotted vacation days, and left 705 million days unused in 2017. 42% of American workers feel obligated to check in with work even when they are on vacation.
MEETINGS
  • In 2017, the number one office time-waster was “meetings.” In 2017, there were approximately 111 million meetings held for work each day. American office workers sit through an average of 62 meetings each month, with 37% of them being “valued as unproductive.”
  • On average, American workers spend 5 hours 3 minutes in meeting each week, and an additional 4 hrs 15 minutes preparing for those meetings. Of note, 46% of office workers state they are required to attend more meeting than they were during the previous year.
  • American managers spend up to 12 hours every week in meetings, with those in the public sector averaging closer to 14 hours each week.
  • Up to 15 minutes a day is wasted by over 70% of the American workforce looking for an open place to hold a meeting.
WORKER PRODUCTIVITY
  • In America, the average worker spends an average of only 2.8 hours each workday engaged in work-related productivity.
  • The average American can concentrate on one task for “about 20 minutes at a time.” In open-plan offices, the average worker can concentrate on a task for about 10 seconds.
  • For the average American worker, 21% of work time (or 1.8 hours for each 8.5 hour work day) is spent on personal entertainment, social media, or news consumption. This time is non-work-related, and therefore considered non-productive work time.
  • The average American worker’s unproductive (non-work-related) time spent during the workday is spent as such: 65 minutes reading online news, 44 minutes on social media sites, 23 minutes on smoking breaks, 18 minutes making personal calls, 17 minutes making/getting beverages, 14 minutes IMing or texting on their phones, 8 minutes eating snacks, and 7 minutes preparing their afternoon meals.
  • 60% of all online purchases are made during the standard workday (8 AM 5 PM), and 65% of YouTube videos are watched between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM.
  • Interestingly, the average American worker spends 26 minutes of each work day looking for a different job!
  • 25% of government employees admit to wasting at least a few hours each day, while 22% of energy and utility industry workers admit the same. 20% of workers in agricultural fields also admit wasting a few hours each workday.

BUSINESS TRAVEL TIME-SPEND
  • Americans spend more than 100 hours on average each year commuting to and from work. Each day for each way, the average is 26.1 minutes.
  • In 2018, American workers “logged 463.6 million person-trips” for business reasons, with a full 38% of these trips being for events or meetings. About 1.1 million people are traveling any given day in America for work purposes.
  • Most business travel (75%) is to “destinations less than 250 miles” from the business traveler’s place of origin. Most business travelers in America travel by car (their own, a company car, or a rented vehicle) on business trips, rather than flying. Of note, 81% of business trips by car are taken in the business traveler’s own vehicle.
  • The average American business traveler takes about 6.8 trips each year for work, with Millennials topping the charts for business travel at an average of 7.4 trips each year.
  • About 69% of business travelers make their own arrangements and book their own accommodations, so a portion of their work weeks are spent on these activities, although no estimate on how much time is spent on this was found.
  • In 2017, 40% of work trips were considered “bleisure” trips as they were extended to include a few leisure days for the traveler. This type of traveler is often a frequent-work traveler, considering 32% of “bleisure” travelers are on trips related to one or two times a month.

KNOWLEDGE WORKER BREAKDOWNS

  • The average knowledge industry worker spends more than five hours each day on the computer, and numerous additional hours each day in meeting, on work-related calls, or checking IM apps or email. In fact, knowledge workers check their IM apps and/or email an average of once every six minutes, with a surprising 35.5% doing so every three (or fewer) minutes.
  • However, American knowledge workers spent an average of about two hours and 48 minutes (14 hrs 8 min/wk) on productive tasks for work. An additional one hour-six minutes of their workdays are spent in “neutral activities,” and an additional one hour-twelve minutes of their work days are spent in “distracting activities” (think: entertainment or personal time).
  • For knowledge workers in the US, 40% do not “get more than 30 minutes straight of focused time” at work due to bouncing back and forth between tasks.
  • For software developers, approximately 41% of their days are dedicated to work-specific tasks, while 21% of their work days are spent using communication devices. 22% of their days are spent in utility and business functions, with 11% spent researching and learning, and the remaining 5% spent on design and composition work.
  • For product management personnel, approximately 36% of their work days are spent on communication devices, with an additional 33% spent on utilities and business functions. They spend approximately 11% of each day researching and learning.
  • Executives in the knowledge industry spend about 37% of their time using communication devices, and an additional 38% of their time on business and utility functions. An additional 10% of their time is spent researching and learning.

CEO TIME BREAKDOWNS

  • A 2018 Harvard Business Study showed that Americans in these leading positions spent about 9.7 hours at work each week day, averaging about 48.5 hours each five-day week. These folks also worked 79% of all weekend days, averaging 3.9 hours each day, bringing their total per-week averages to 62.5 hours. They even worked on vacation days an average of 2.4 hours each one.
  • Of CEO time, 75% was pre-scheduled with only 25% being spent at their discretion. Of the full day, about 72% of their time is spent in meetings, and they only get about 28% of time to work alone. These meetings were split nearly equally at being an hour in length (32%), longer than an hour (38%), or less than an hour (30%).
  • The average CEO spends about 25% of their day on “people and relationships,” an additional 25% on “functional and business unit reviews,” and about 21% on strategy work. An additional 16% is spent on “organization and culture,” while only 3% is spent on professional development (research and learning).
  • About 4% each is spent on “mergers and acquisitions” and “operating plans,” with only about 1% being spent on crisis management activities.
  • Of their communications, most of their time (61%) was spent on face-to-face interactions, with 24% being electronic (IMs, emails, other), and 15% being spent on the phone or in written (mail) communications.

OTHER INTERESTING INFO

  • A 2016 survey of UK workers found they spend an average of three productive hours at work, with the rest of the time spent on non-work activities, like checking social media and personal email, texting and making personal calls, eating, and chatting with co-workers about non-work topics.
  • A New Zealand financial services firm, Perpetual Guardian’s, CEO had read the vast research on how fewer work hours actually makes workers more productive. In applying this, the CEO advised all full-time (40-hr/wk) workers that they should only work 32 hours, without cutting their salaries. This move resulted in a drastic 24% increase in employee productivity.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To provide the statistics and information in these findings, we performed a search on various aspects of how the average American worker (of any kind) spends their time. This included a breakdown for each aspect requested, like time spent working at home versus in the office and the ways workers generally spend their workdays, as examples. Additionally, we focused our search more narrowly on finding as much information about office workers and how they spend their workdays as possible. These searches were fruitful and we have synthesized the information and statistics found to provide you with the most-comprehensive response possible.

Average time spent on meetings (5hr 3 min) + time spent in prep for meetings (4 hr 15 min) = 9 hr 18 min each week spent on meetings. If Americans works 8.5 hrs each day for five workdays, that is 42.5 hrs a week. 42.5 / 9.3 hrs = an average of 4.6 hrs/day spent in meetings.

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