SURVEY SAYS: Personal Activities During Work Time

We covered a survey that found employees squander an average of 56 minutes per day, or the equivalent of nearly five hours a week, using their mobile devices for non-work activities in the office.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “What non-work activities do you engage in during work hours and how much time do you spend doing them?”

First, I have to apologize because I forgot to toggle “allow multiple responses” for the question of what activities people engage in. However, despite that, 40.5% of respondents said they check personal email during work, and 32.4% indicated they make personal calls and/or set up appointments. “Browsing the web” was chosen by 13.5% of responding readers, 8.1% reported they check Facebook or other social media, and 5.4% indicated they do none of the above during work hours.

Nearly half (48.6%) of those responding estimate they spend less than half an hour engaging in non-work activities during work hours, while 40.5% estimated they spend half an hour to an hour, and 10.8% said its one to two hours.

In verbatim responses, many readers expressed they feel entitled to do some personal activities during work-time, especially those who work long hours or don’t take lunch breaks. A couple mentioned they only do such activities during break times, and several mentioned that in today’s world it is hard to separate work and personal lives with so much to do. There were also some who mentioned that taking a break to do some personal activities helped them refresh and be more productive. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I think there are some things you can only take care of during regular business hours. Some types of personal activities during work time just can’t be avoided.” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!


I guess it would be too presumptive to assume that all non-work/personal activities are performed during one's break/lunch period?

Notwithstanding the fact that I'm salaried and fully understanding my employer is entitled to eight hours work for eight hours pay, not sure how to avoid/balance the demands of my professional life with my personal life of caring for aging parents, grandchildren and me! The new "normal" isn't so much. 🙁

Varies by day and what's going on at home, but you have to be able to communicate with family.

I engage in more than one of these activities. You shouldn't limit to one.

Way less. Maybe once every couple of weeks I have to stop the madness and just take care of some things. Since I almost never take a lunch away from my desk I never feel guilty about doing it.

My job can have some very slow times... days or weeks at a time. Browsing the web helps me 'look' busy since there isn't anything else to do... job security?

Even though some time is spent on personal activities during the day, the time is made up by staying late or working at home in the evening. In all, it balances out.

As long as it's limited, I don't have a problem with staff doing some non-work activities at work.

I need brain breaks from my tasks so that I can be more productive.

As long as the job is getting done with high quality work, it should really be about end results, not how long it took you to get them done.

It is more the exception than the rule that I engage in personal activities during work time. If I have to make a doctor's appointment, for example, then I take a few minutes to do so. I think it also depends on whether you are salaried or non-exempt. As a salaried employee, I answer emails at night, on weekends and on vacation so I feel that it offsets what little time that I engage in personal activities during work time.

Texting my daughter in college with daily assurance she is alive and well is needed!

It's my life. My employer does not own me.

Verbatim (cont.)

"Work life" and "home life" are intertwined to the point where the 9-to-5 mindset is obsolete. BTW... in question #1, I could have selected more than one option.

I use it to break up the monotony and give my mind a rest.

Considering I don't take paid breaks I'm entitled to, or often I work while eating lunch at my desk, not to mention the time worked at home on things for which I am not paid overtime, I don't feel too bad about engaging in personal activities during work time.

I start my day reading news from various sources and spend about 30 minutes. Then my head is cleared and ready to focus on the tasks of the day.

I generally work about 55-60 hours per week. The company still makes out even if I spend a half hour to an hour a day on personal stuff.

I have taken personal phone calls and have personal discussions but make up the time

The right amount of non-work activity helps to refocus on work and helps the brain to relax and solve problems faster than when under stress. Some studies have been done and shown such destressing to be beneficial to work. Who'd have thought breaks increase efficiency... to a point.

Some personal business has to be taken care of during the work day, plus my work days are so long there is no other time to do some of this stuff! On the rare occasions that I only work an 8 hour day, I feel like I'm only working part-time!

I generally try to do personal activities during my lunch break. I think there are some things you can only take care of during regular business hours. Some types of personal activities during work time just can't be avoided.


Everyone is entitled to 2 breaks and a lunch during their working day. Unfortunately I usually get snagged by someone and work thru mine, so if I make appointments or answer a friend’s email, I chalk it up to my break and lunch time. If I do online searches or purchases. I always do them during the "designated" lunch time or after my quitting time. Yes, I usually end up working past my assigned ending time as well.

We should feel like we have the flexibility to make a personal call as long as it's not abused.                                                   


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.