Survey: Bad Communications Habits Mean Longer Work Days

May 23, 2006 ( - Workers in the UK are putting in longer days at the office and they may have themselves to blame, according to a new study.

The national survey by ntl:Telewest Business found that workers are misusing telephones and e-mail at the office, which is increasing their bad habits, according to news reports. Two hours, 10 minutes was the amount that people wasted each day at work on average, of which one hour and 38 minutes was due to communication technologies not being properly utilized, according to the survey.

Of 1,468 people questioned, the average time spent each day waiting for or chasing responses to urgent e-mails and on unnecessary e-mails was 42 minutes. An average of 27 minutes was wasted responding to voicemails or managing phone calls and 12 minutes was lost trying to locate colleagues.

Men are the biggest timewasters when it comes to non-work activities. When asked to admit what they were really doing while they were working, the key findings were for men and women respectively:

  • e-mailing with friends: 39% compared to 36%
  • following sports online: 19% compared to 4%
  • arranging social life: 29% compared to 21%
  • online shopping: 21% compared to 14%.

Time Wasters

According to the study, other average times wasted each day were:

  • Travel not including to and from work: 14 minutes
  • Chasing responses to urgent emails: 42 minutes
  • Responding to voicemails or managing phone calls: 27 minutes
  • Trying to locate colleagues: 12 minutes
  • Meetings that are unnecessarily long: 12 minutes
  • Asking others for files or documents (e.g. version control): 9 minutes
  • Scheduling and rescheduling meetings: 8 minutes
  • Conference calls that could be far shorter: 6 minutes