Curb Non Productive Time at Work to Boost Efficiency


What’s the difference between productive time and non productive time? The simple answer: the results. A vibrant and committed workforce is the bedrock of every business. The survival of every company is endangered once the focus of your staff wanes, either through poor communication, a dearth of discipline or poor long-term planning.

A distracted workforce is often unwilling to give their best efforts, which can trigger dwindling customer satisfaction and productivity, and consequently business failure, if management fails to act quickly.

The productive work time for an average employee are only about three hours, according to a report from over 2 000 full-time employees in the UK. Chronic disorganization, employee conflict, high employee turnover, a decline in business activities and lack of flexibility combined with increased stress can all lead to non productive work hours.

The main sources of distractions reported by employees are social media, news websites and discussing personal issues with co-workers. The economic impact of non productive office hours is huge.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, employers lose approximately $658 billion every year in the US. In Germany, the loss is to the tune of $191 billion, while France loses $149 billion annually to non productive time at work.

Balancing technology use and abuse within the work environment also remains a challenge for employers. Given that non productive time at work has huge consequences for both employees and employers, what is the best remedy for such wastefulness?



Defining “non productive time”

An employee’s non productive time is built into the typical workday activities, and such time may include waiting time, break time, traveling time, snack time and so on.

These unproductive hours include activities outside of the work period. This non productive time is work time that does not directly relate to performing one’s duties, like the waiting period for a receptionist who takes company phone calls and sits in wait for another incoming call.

The most worrisome aspect of unproductive time is the work hours spent outside the context of the receptionist. This period is the productive time staff waste on social media, gossiping and taking unnecessary breaks.


Typical work timewasters

Why does non productive time persist at work?

Chatting and gossip

Gossiping amongst colleagues eats up a lot of productive time, in person and over chats and messaging platforms in the office. Then there’s also excessive time spent on news websites and watching videos. 

Too many meetings

Meetings are one of the biggest time-wasting culprits, contributing to many non productive hours! Companies waste about 31 hours a month on meetings with no tangible value, and as a result, 71% of staff mismanage their time each week. Meetings are the most common office distractions that hamper productivity.

Non productive hours persist if companies have no transparent solution for time tracking. TimeTrack Timesheet helps managers automatically create timesheets that save productive time for important tasks.


TimeTrack Timesheet

Managing non productive work hours

Consider an employee who gets to work and immediately checks his Facebook. He quickly gets caught up in a conversation with a friend – all before he’s even started his workday. Now imagine most employees who do the same. They log onto social media, sip a coffee while browsing the latest news, reply to personal emails or check out a viral video. These are concrete examples of non productive time that can quickly turn into hours every day.

Take a break, switch scenes

If you realize that you’re not emotionally connected to the day’s work, take a break or do some admin tasks that don’t require much effort. The point of this exercise is to help you disconnect and refocus to tackle the work with renewed vigor. Encourage your employees to do the same if they too are stuck in a rut.

Inspire action

Motivate your employees to seek motivation to refocus on the essential task. Perhaps the reason for non productive hours is a lack of inspiration. Offer your assistance and advice when necessary.

Recognize and plan for unproductive time

All employees will succumb to non productive time at some point. If you plan for these occurrences ahead of time, your team can remain relatively productive. Compile a list of non-urgent tasks for the “down time”, send out regular memos urging staff to remain productive and introduce rewards for employees who manage their time well.

Take stock

Taking stock means revising set goals and ensuring agile goal setting which has been proven to save time and money. Check in regularly with your staff and adjust goals as needed. You don’t have to micromanage, but if they know that you are keeping an eye on things, chances are they will aim to be consistently productive.

Efficient planning

A simple way to boost productive work hours is to plan and delegate your staff’s duties as efficiently as possible. In this way, everyone is sure of what they need to do and there’s less time wasted on waiting for tasks. TimeTrack Duty Roster helps managers personalize shifts according to work area, skills and location. This makes time tracking simple and intuitive.


TimeTrack Duty Roster

Avoid multitasking and batch tasks

Attempting to complete multiple tasks at the same time will contribute to you spending approximately 40% more time performing the same function. Rather than dwelling on multitasking, spend office hours completing individual tasks. Time chunking will help you do more in less time. Batching your tasks can increase your capacity to deliver and help you shift attention to productivity around important tasks.


Non productive time has significant economic and social implications for companies. The first step to preventing this time wastage is to track employees’ time use and devise long-term strategies for greater productivity.