Find out how employees waste time at work — and what you can do to prevent it. 

stock-photo-lazy-employees-talking-and-w-2440567-277938-edited.pngNow that cellphones are commonplace, employers can often easily reach employees outside of the office if necessary.

When employees are in the office, however, cellphones may cut down on the amount of work they actually accomplish.

A recent CareerBuilder survey found 77 percent of employees keep their phones within reach at work; the survey identified cell phone use, including texting, as the biggest workplace productivity killer.

Maximizing in-office time is a challenge for a number of organizations. More than two-thirds of business leaders say their company isn’t as productive as it could be, according to a recent WorkMarket report.

In addition to cell phone use, studies have shown several other workplace distractions can have a considerable impact on employees’ concentration level.

If you’re not sure why staff members are wasting time at work, taking a look at the following factors may help you determine how to increase employee productivity:

Social media

While the Internet in general is a productivity problem, according to 38 percent of the CareerBuilder survey respondents, social media sites specifically can cause issues. More than a third of American adults use social media at work to take a mental break; 27 percent use it to connect with friends and family during the workday, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Potential employee productivity fix

The number of businesses that block social media at work grew from 29 percent to 36 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to a report from Proskauer; the company says training can reduce the risk social media will be misused — yet the number of businesses providing it didn’t increase during that time period.


Having a written record of a conversation is often a good thing; but with the abundance of messages workers receive, email can sometimes feel overwhelming,  Employees check email, on average, 36 times an hour, according to data from Atlassian. Given it takes workers 16 minutes to refocus after handling incoming messages, that can result in a lot of lost time — and expense: Companies lose $1,800 in productivity costs per employee each year due to unnecessary emails alone. Intel estimates excessive e-mail can cost large organizations as much as $1 billion a year in reduced productivity, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Potential employee productivity fix

Reducing employees’ reliance on email isn’t an easy task; however, suggesting they use it when necessary and, when possible, opt for an in-person interaction may help prevent email overload. Research indicates in-person communication may increase in the future: It’s Gen Z and millennials’ preferred communication style, according to Randstad, whose global survey found both generations prefer it to  communicating with co-workers and managers via email or phone.

Eating and drinking

U.K. workers said in a survey conducted by Vouchercloud that they spent just 2 hours and 53 minutes a day being productive. A quarter blamed time spent eating snacks; 55 percent said they spent significant time either making hot drinks or food.

Potential employee productivity fix

While you likely can’t (and shouldn’t) bar employees from drinking or eating at work, providing food and beverages on a regular or semi-regular basis may help cut down on some of the prep time that’s proving to be a workplace distraction. According to research from ezCater, 66 percent of office workers said food being provided saves time in their workday.

For additional productivity ideas, check out our recent blog posts on how to improve worker productivity, 4 ways company pride can invigorate employee engagement, tips on tackling global management, and, if your workplace atmosphere has felt lackluster lately, five ways to help you get your company culture mojo back.