For all the time Americans spend complaining about sad desk lunches, after-hours emails, and unused vacation days, our workload is surprisingly light. As Inc. reports, the average U.S. worker spends just 39 percent of their clocked-in hours on actual work, but employee laziness isn’t necessarily to blame.
That number comes from Workfront’s latest U.S. State of Enterprise Work Report which surveyed over 600 people employed by large companies. The percentage of time respondents said they dedicated to job tasks in 2016 is down from the 46 percent they reported last year. So what’s causing the severe drop in productivity? It’s tempting to blame the tweets, quizzes, and cat GIFs constantly at our fingertips for distracting employees. And past research has shown that slacking off does contribute to missing time in the workday—but only about 30 to 60 minutes of it. According to Workfront’s report, the biggest distractions employees face are actually coming from up top.
Workers surveyed reported spending 21 percent of their days in meetings (half of which they didn’t find productive) and 16 percent answering emails. So even when employees want to get work done, they still have to deal with managers interrupting them throughout the day.
While our work hours are becoming less productive, they’re also growing longer: The average amount of time spent at the office increased from 44.3 hours in 2015 to 45.1 hours in 2016. Thankfully there are alternatives for workers determined to make better use of their precious time. Working from home is becoming more widely accepted and, as you might suspect, remote employees get more done and feel happier overall.