Work

Nearly Half of Employees Worldwide Could Do Their Jobs in 5 Hours or Less Each Day

One workforce institute studied how it can be done. 

It’s the rare employee who doesn’t waste time at their desk scrolling social media and wasting time until they can bolt. Many times, they’re not even slacking off. What if your work for the day is done, and now you’re forced to sit at your desk until leaving time?

According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight nations conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, 78 percent of full-time workers say it would take less than seven hours each day to do their job if they could work uninterrupted, with nearly half (45 percent) saying their job should take less than five hours per day.

The Workforce Institute at Kronos examined how employees across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. view their relationship with work and if the standard 40-hour work week is the most effective.

Some findings:

Even though 75 percent of full-time employees globally say that they have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks, nearly two in five (37 percent) work more than 40 hours each week and 71 percent claim work interferes with their personal lives.

Three-quarters of workers crave a longer weekend.

If pay remained constant, the majority of global workers say their ideal workweek would last four days (34 percent), while 20 percent said they would work three days a week. One in four global employees (28 percent) are content with the standard five-day work week.

Full-time workers in Canada (59 percent), Australia (47 percent), and the U.S. (40 percent) feel strongest about having a four-day workweek, while U.K. employees desire a three-day workweek the most (26 percent).

India leads the way as the hardest-working country, with a whopping 69 percent of full-time employees saying they would still work five days a week if pay remained constant. Mexico was the second-highest at 43 percent of workers, followed by the U.S. at 27 percent. The U.K. (16 percent), France (17 percent), and Australia (19 percent) are the least content with the standard five-day work week.

One-third of employees (35 percent) would take a 20 percent pay-cut to work one day less per week.

Nearly nine out of 10 employees (86 percent) say they lose time each day on work-specific tasks unrelated to their core job, with 41 percent of full-time employees wasting more than an hour a day on these extraneous activities.

What’s the biggest time-waster at work?

“Fixing a problem not caused by me” (22 percent) and administrative work (17 percent) were the top two answers given by full-time employees when asked what they waste the most time on at work. Meetings (12 percent), email (11 percent), and customer issues (11 percent) round out the top five time-wasters.

Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos, tells Personal Space that the biggest takeaway of the research isn’t that we should move to a four-day workweek, it’s that companies should remove distractions.

“Many roles require employees to be present or on call during specific hours to get the job done — such as teachers, nurses, retail associates, plant workers, delivery drivers, and nearly all customer-facing roles,” she says. “Organizations must help their people eliminate distractions, inefficiencies, and administrative work to help them work at full capacity while creating more time to innovate, collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and serve customers while opening the door to creative scheduling options, including even the coveted four-day workweek.”

Dan Schawbel, research director, Future Workplace, says we can all be more efficient with our workday, “that there's an opportunity to remove administrative tasks in exchange for more impactful ones and that the traditional workweek isn't relevant in today's business world.”

“Employees need more flexibility with how, when and where they work, and leaders should be supportive of an employees personal lives not just professional one,” he says. “When employees get time to rest, they become more productive, creative and are healthier, so they take fewer sick days.”

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