Time-wasting costs UK 7bn a year

May 23 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

People who amble into work fashionably late, throw their coats over their chairs while they grab a coffee and then have a quick gossip before settling down to a spot of paper shuffling are costing Britain nearly 7bn a year.

An average of 72 million working hours a week are lost in Britain because of bad time management, the equivalent of 13 working days a year for each employee, a survey of 1,000 office workers by recruitment firm Office Angels has said.

While some of the reasons given were out of employees' control, such as IT glitches and fire drills, the bulk of lost hours were down to human inefficiencies in the workplace, including lateness, general time-wasting and gossiping, it said.

David Clubb, Office Angels managing director, said: "Time is money, and whilst it's natural that a small amount may be wasted each week, this research demonstrates that we need consider how it all adds up.

"By being conscious of how we spend our time, we can work more efficiently and productively as a team. This will of course, mean putting more back into the business but also ensuring we have a healthy work life balance by getting our work completed during the allotted working day," he said.

But it is also clear that for many workers the amount of time wasted at work by problems such as IT glitches are a source of real frustration.

A separate study has concluded that IT issues and servers not working properly are the biggest irritations for UK workers, even more galling than poor restaurant service.

The poll by software firm Richmond Systems found that three out of 10 workers were regularly infuriated by IT problems.

A broken mobile device was the biggest daily irritant for two out of 10 workers, it added.

It also found that seven out of 10 office workers will try to fix a PC-related problem themselves rather than contact the IT helpdesk, showing they had little faith in their ability to resolve problems quickly.

Eric Wright, managing director at Richmond Systems, said: "IT problems still seem to be the bane of everyday life and companies should be doing more to rectify this.

"If the technology fails, you have little choice but to sit around and wait for it to be fixed. This can be frustrating and costly, especially when under pressure from work deadlines," he added.

The Office Angels poll also found workers were becoming more environmentally conscious, with nearly three quarters of offices now actively making the workplace greener.

More than a third encouraged workers to recycle documents, 12 per cent used glass rather than plastic cups and 35 per cent ensured PCs were turned off at the end of the day, in all saving 83m worth of electricity each night alone.