7 Worst Ways Employees Waste Time at Work

The UK has a problem with productivity. And that’s not just the anecdotal opinion of mangers; it’s backed up by official statistics. Compared to the average of the other six members of the G7 industrialised nations, the UK currently sits at 18 percentage points lower in terms of output per hours worked.

Of course, we cannot simply say that British workers are lazy as there are many factors involved, including a lack of investment by companies and a shortage of high quality managers. However, there is no doubt that wasted time at work does contribute to the problem.
Using information taken from various news sources, reputable staff management sites like Planday.com and literature shared by several social media authorities – I take a look at the seven worst ways that employees waste time at work.


Meetings can be highly productive and an excellent use of employees’ time, but in the majority of cases they are simply a waste. Think about the meetings that you attend at work. How many of them are necessary for you get on with your daily tasks? How many of them could you do without attending? For many of us, the answer to both these questions is the majority.

Whether you are the person calling the meeting or just attending, consider whether these meetings are really a good use of your time, or whether this is time that would be far better spent completing your own work.

Overuse of Email

Another common problem at work is that employees will overuse their email when it might be far better to either pick up the phone or simply have a conversation with a colleague. It’s not just the hassle of reading and composing emails that takes the time, but also the additional minutes you need to take organizing, deleting or appropriately filing them. This might not sound like much, but over the course of a day if you receive 50 emails that you need to deal with and each takes an average of one minute of your time, that’s almost one hour lost just to emails.


waste-time-work-1One issue is that businesses are not as organized as they need to be – that goes for both managers and staff. Not knowing what you need to be doing can cause you to waste time with nothing being accomplished. This shows the need for work to be scheduled and for everyone involved with the business to know what is expected of them at any point during the day. It might sound like a huge task to try to stay in control of what everyone is doing, but the benefits in productivity can be enormous.

Smoking or snack breaks

Of course it’s true that everyone needs a break from work and it would unhealthy to attempt to get workers to sit at their desk all day. But long breaks taken too often can simply become a waste of time. Try to limit these to no more than three per day.


This is an obvious one, but interruptions can be the scourge of an office. If you work in a small business it may be the case that all employees will be expected to answer phone calls or deal with the day-to-day running of the office. There’s nothing wrong with this and everyone should be expected to pitch in, but it’s worth considering how much your time is lost to relatively meaningless tasks. Hiring an office assistant can be a great way to get around this problem.

The internet

The majority of people who work in an office have experienced this problem – the computer that you use for all of your working tasks is also connected to the internet with all the social media and sites you like to visit in your spare time. Often this will need to be a personal task for you to limit yourself as in many businesses it’s not possible to block websites or make the internet unavailable.

Lacking motivation

Motivation, or the lack of it, can be a huge problem when it comes to productivity. It’s so difficult to get work done when you lack motivation. Employees need to set goals so that they have something to work towards. It can also be worth organizing team building activities or finding ways to encourage a more positive atmosphere in the workplace.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.