Earlier this year, the BBC put our working lives under the microscope – or rather, how long we spend not working when we should be. The article revealed that British workers spend a staggering 18 months of their lives commuting to and from work, an activity which can feel like a bit of a black hole for our valuable time.
In a previous post, we investigated Britain’s low productivity levels – and as time goes on, the causes of this motivation meltdown are becoming clearer.
With so much emphasis placed by many employers on the ‘busy’ side of business, some UK workers are prioritising looking busy over actually tackling their workload – meaning that seemingly startling stats may actually be the product of a productivity drought.
Today we’re taking a look at the most common ways we’re wasting time at work and giving you the tools you need to tackle this office epidemic.
In Britain, the average employee spends 36 days a year responding to work emails – which works out as almost 10% of their working life – and on top of that, London workers are receiving nearly 9000 emails each year.
Try it: allow your team some time each morning to address time-sensitive emails and resolve any pressing issues before they dive into their workload. Building this chunk of time into the working day will relieve some of the stress associated with work emails – although many urgent requests will still need to be actioned as and when they drop through.
Love your lunch break
Non-work related internet browsing is one of the biggest time-wasters in UK offices. From checking social media accounts to making personal Google searches and even shopping online, British workers are blurring the line between being on and off the clock.
Try it: respect the divide between office hours and personal time by encouraging your team to take the full lunch break they’re entitled to. By emphasising the importance of their lunch breaks, you can help your employees refresh and refuel for the remainder of the day while promoting a more diligent attitude to the way they spend working hours.
Minimise meeting attendance
Extended or arbitrary meetings are the plague of employees across the UK. With 25% of British workers revealing that unnecessary internal meetings are their biggest pet peeve, office conferences are costing many businesses hundreds and even thousands of hours every year.
Try it: reduce the time lost through extended office meetings by inviting as few members of staff as possible. Department heads can make thorough notes of the key points discussed and feed back to their teams afterwards so that all employees are up-to-date without needing to be physically present at the meeting.
Balance home & office
In the aforementioned BBC article, it was revealed that 80% of employers regularly contact their staff outside of office hours – further obscuring the divide between their employees’ work and home lives.
Try it: resist the urge to contact your team outside of office hours, promoting a healthier balance between work and home life. The less often work-related issues invade their personal time, the less likely they’ll be to let personal issues eat into office hours.
Hydrate your team
Dehydration has been linked to higher stress levels, a decrease in brain power and a general plummet in productivity – making fresh water the key to keeping your employees alert and immersed in their work.
Try it: install a water cooler in your office to make sure your team gets their daily dose of H2O. We’d suggest having the cooler as close to your office as possible – that way, you can clamp down on extended cooler chat while encouraging an open door policy, should your staff need any advice or support.
Every manager’s most valuable asset is their team – and by guaranteeing that your employees’ minds are focused, their time is effectively utilised and their workloads are manageable, you can wage war on wasted time starting today.