20% of workday wasted on socializing, surfing the Net

On the Job

August 01, 2007|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun Columnist

Admit it, you spend way too much time surfing the Web or socializing at work.

A new survey says workers waste 20 percent of their workday, or 1.7 hours of a 8.5-hour workday.

The amount of wasted time has declined in the three years since Salary.com began conducting this survey, but the compensation consulting firm says companies are still paying people for no direct benefit.

Among more than 2,000 employees surveyed, 63 percent admitted to wasting time at work, according to the survey.

Personal Internet use (34.8 percent), socializing with co-workers (20.3 percent) and conducting personal business (17 percent) rank among the top three activities that cut into work hours.

Marcia Hall, a Severna Park-based author of Navigating Newbie-ism: 12 Simple Ways to Thrive in Your First Job and Career (Parker Stanton Publishing), says workplace culture can play a part in how much time is wasted and how it's handled by managers.

"Some atmospheres are more laid-back and that's their style, and they'll be more flexible.

"As long as the work is done, they don't care about the hours you put in," Hall says. She is the founder of Reputation Counts, which trains business professionals in ways to build their reputations. But, Hall notes, "Other companies care about the hours you work."

Almost 20 percent of employees say they waste time because they don't have enough work to do. That reason is followed by long hours (13.9 percent), being underpaid (11.8 percent) and lack of challenging work (11.1 percent).

The survey also found that workers between 20 and 29 years old waste more time than their older counterparts: 2.1 hours per day.

Hall attributes the survey's finding of wasted time partly to the myth among younger workers that "it's fine to surf the Net and make a personal phone call if my work is done for the day."

"They are used to being told what to do, rather than taking the initiative and asking what else they can do," Hall says. "Many of the employers I've interviewed have said things like, `I don't want to have to tell them what to do.'"

I want to hear from young workers out there.

Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun.com. Please include your first name and your city. On the Job is published Monday at www.baltimoresun.com

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