The average Brit works for 8 hours every day but only spends 3 hours actually working

Business Insights

The productivity gap continues to make headlines with recent OECD statistics showing that British workers are on average 8 percent less productive per hour than workers in the US, 11 percent less productive than French workers and 14 percent down on Germans.

And a new recent study shows one reason for it might be simple - our office culture. According to a nationwide survey, the average British office employee manages to get through just 3 hours of actual work per day, despite working longer hours than anywhere else in Europe.

The research found that the average office worker spends up to 5 hours on non-work related activity every day, including chatting and flirting with colleagues, online shopping, and doing the tea run. When you combine this with the fact that British workers stay longer in the office than their European counterparts, it’s no surprise the output per hour is low.

The study, by Ginger Research, found a culture of long working hours persists, with almost half (46 percent) of British workers admitting they routinely stayed at work longer than they need to because everyone else does.

In fact, one in ten (12 percent) of Brits said they work overtime with the sole purpose of looking busy, not because of the pressure of their work loads, while 30 percent admitted that they could be more productive than they are, and 17 percent claimed that, if their bosses knew what they were really doing at work, there would be trouble.

The study, of 1000 British office workers, found a staggering 64 percent of respondents said that they believe they could fit their day’s work into a shorter period of time.

Says Harriet Scott, MD of Ginger Research:

“We’ve been working on ideas for making our own team more productive as, like all UK businesses, we strive for efficiency and excellence, especially in these uncertain times. The research was part of this project, and shows what many in the business world have been arguing for some time - that working long hours does not make for a more productive workforce.”

When asked what would make them more productive, HALF of British workers said a pay rise, 28 percent flexible hours, and 27 percent four-day week.

Almost 2 in ten (18 percent) believed the structure of their company is not the best for productivity.

A quarter of those polled thought working from home would improve their performance, while 18 percent said a quieter office would do the trick.

Said Harriet Scott:

“Employers need to think creatively about how to get the most from their employees – flexible and home working, four-day weeks and quiet zones can all help boost performance and productivity in the workplace. We now offer all our employees a flexible working package as standard, which seems to be the way many UK businesses are now heading.”

The study also found that – as well as staying late – only 24 percent of office workers never work through their lunch breaks, And a third (34 percent) work through their lunches every single day.

  • 45 mins chatting to colleagues about non-work-related subjects
  • 1 hour on Facebook
  • 30 minutes on Twitter
  • 30 minutes on Instagram
  • 30 minutes doing the tea run
  • 30 minutes online shopping
  • 30 minutes flirting with colleagues
  • 45 minutes day dreaming