15 Laborious Employee Productivity Statistics: A Workaholic's Guide to Productivity

Updated · May 27, 2022

Productivity has always been of significant importance to employers.

Formally, productivity can be defined as the ratio of an output to an input, the latter often being time. Realistically, it’s about how much work you can squeeze out of your workers without making their hackles rise.

But times are changing. Freelancers, for example, are more common nowadays—and more productive than salaried workers due to the nature of their work.

Remote workers are generally haрpier than office-dwellers. (And, thus, often more efficient, too. But you didn’t hear that from us.)

Here, we’ll look at a whole lot of employee productivity statistics concerning various aspects of the post-pаndemic businеss world.

Workable Productivity Facts (Editor’s Choice)

  • A single distraction can cost you 23 minutes and 15 seconds of reduced productivity.
  • The average office worker gets interrupted every three minutes.
  • US businesses lose 28,000,000,000 hours and $1,000,000,000,000 annually due to interruptions and distractions at the workplace.
  • 86% of people prefer to work alone.
  • According to productivity in the workplace statistics, 61% of workers believe loud colleagues are the most significant distraction in the office.
  • The human brain can focus for 90-120 minutes at a time.
  • 32% of all employees will quit their jobs if forced back to the office.
  • In the US, the net productivity of workers has risen 253% since 1948, but salaries have only increased by 116%.
  • The average employee productivity rate is about 60%.

Key Employee Productivity Statistics for 2022

The pandemic hit workers hard. Many lost their jobs, and almost everybody was forced to stay at home—but it was also a blessing in disguise.

Many people discovered they like working from home, even if it was just so they didn’t waste several hours commuting.

Now, employers face a new challenge, and we’ll discuss it in detail right here.

1. The average employee productivity is about 60%.

(Source: Apollo Technical)

Productivity depends on many factors, ranging from each individual’s personality to the type of industry in which they work.

Generally speaking, employees in manufacturing and other labor-intensive fields work more, whereas office workers sit on the opposite end of the spectrum.

So, how productive is the average worker?

Across the entire working population, productivity sits at about 60%.

2. In the US, workers’ net productivity has risen 253% since 1948.

(Source: World Economic Forum)

From 1948 until 1979, it was smooth sailing—productivity rose 108%, and wages went up 93%. Not perfect, but adequate enough.

Then, it all went south. Since 1979, hourly compensation has barely grown, even as we have gotten better at doing our jobs. In fact, productivity is now 253% higher than it was in 1948, but wages are only up 115.6%.

That feels a bit unfair, doesn’t it?

3. 86% of people prefer to work alone.

(Source: HubSpot)

Employee productivity statistics show that an overwhelming majority of workers (86%) believe that they’re more productive when working by themselves.

We always talk about teamwork and how imperative it is to be a team player. Yet, most people simply aren’t as effective when they constantly need to communicate with a bunch of coworkers to get anything done.

Furthermore, 60% admit they prefer a separate office or at least a partitioned cubicle at work. In fact, only 19% are fine with a desk in an open office.

And here’s something funny:

4. 61% of workers believe loud colleagues are the most significant distraction in the office.

(Source: HubSpot)

Curiously, worker productivity statistics suggest that the problem isn’t necessarily that people talk loudly. In fact, only 24% of employees think loud conversations in the office lead to reduced productivity.

A far more substantial problem in this regard appears to be the use of cell phones, the internet, and social media. Gossipping with coworkers is up there, too.

5. 36% of employers block certain websites.

(Source: HubSpot)

How do you boost the average worker’s productivity?

One option is to encourage them to be more engaged in their job, but that’s hard to do. 

Another option is to remove distractors that hurt their productivity in the first place, which is easier to accomplish. Hence why over three-quarters of managers do it.

Specifically, performance management statistics suggest that 36% of managers admit they block access to certain websites (social media, porn, etc.), 25% entirely ban the use of personal cell phones, and 22% micromanage their employees by monitoring their internet usage.

That said, some managers are trying out more humane solutions, such as letting employees work remotely (14%) and reducing the number of meetings (12%)—and, let’s be honest, the only ones who wouldn’t be happy with this measure would be video conferencing services themselves.

6. 90% of employees are at least as productive working remotely.

(Source: Owl Labs)

Productivity in the workplace isn’t very high. Shockingly, though, productivity in the home office is generally higher.

24% of employees acknowledge they didn’t see a major difference in either direction during the pandemic, but a whole 67% of them report being more productive while working remotely. In fact, only 1% thought they were less productive.

Fun fact: 80% of employees and 85% of entrepreneurs admit to procrastinating for an hour or more every day.

7. How to measure productivity in the workplace if employees aren’t there?

(Source: Owl Labs)

It turns out that employers are facing one more critical problem caused by the pandemic: 32% of all employees say they would rather quit their job than go back to the office full-time.

Another 18% say they aren’t sure.

Worse still, the remaining half that wouldn’t leave aren't entirely happy either. They claim they wouldn’t feel compelled to do their best, which clearly entails a productivity hit.

Fun fact: 84% of employees who changed jobs recently did so to get more flexibility.

How Many Productive Hours in a Workday?

Not many.

Definitely not eight—nowhere even close.

Now, we at Web Tribunal aren’t saying you don’t spend eight hours a day, 40 hours a week sitting on a chair in front of a desk in the office (or at home)—you probably do.

But you most definitely do not spend the entire 40 hours working. Nobody does.

8. The average office worker's productivity is barely 36%.

(Source: Voucher Cloud)

That’s two hours and 53 minutes worked every day—out of eight average work day hours.

How does this happen?

Well, on average, an office worker gets interrupted every three minutes and five seconds

This “distraction” can be anything, from an email notification to police sirens on the street outside the office. Such interruptions lead to the loss of a grand total of 28 billion hours annually. That’s the equivalent of about $1,000,000,000,000 every year that never materializes in the US economy.

Furthermore, average employee productivity statistics show that when a distraction like this occurs, it takes the average employee up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus fully. In other words, since distractions typically happen much more often than that, it’s almost impossible to remain entirely focused throughout the workday.

Fun fact: 19% of office employees admit they spend over twenty minutes of work time a day looking for a new job.

9. In the US, workers put in 34.4 hours weekly on average.

(Source: The Balance Career)

Leaving the idea of worker efficiency aside for a moment, let’s talk about how much people work in the first place.

You probably think it’s 40 hours a week. Well, it isn’t. Some do that much, sure—those in the manufacturing industry, for instance, drudge for an entire 40.7 hours every week.

But, on average, people in the US only spend 34.4 hours a week working—officially, that is. Consider our previous stats about productivity rates, and you end up with about 20 productive hours of work weekly. 

(Unless you’re an office worker, then it’s even less.)

10. The average freelancer works for 36 hours weekly.

(Source: Yahoo! Finance)

Society tends to see freelancers as less serious and less stable than regular workers. They do miss out on benefits, after all. Plus, they get to choose when and how much to work, so surely they must be a bit on the lazy side, right?

Wrong.

Worker productivity statistics suggest that it’s quite the opposite. Precisely because freelancers don’t get paid a fixed wage, they have to work hard. As such, they end up toiling away for about 36 hours every week, or over seven hours daily—a substantial amount compared to their office peers.

Fun fact: In 2013, there were 53 million freelancers in the US. As of 2020, the number has gone up to 59 million. That’s more than a third of the workforce! 

11. We spend 31 hours in pointless meetings… monthly.

(Source: Atlassian)

If, while reading this article, you thought you should have a look at your staff’s efficiency, that’s cool.

However, when you inevitably see that it’s a tad low, what will you do?

You might want to host a meeting and discuss the matter with your employees. We suggest that you wait a moment and read this stat first.

Half of all workplace meetings are pointless. And, on average, employees spend up to 31 hours monthly in such meetings. In other words, they eat away over an hour of their time every day.

So, before you decide to impose a total ban on gossipping and tea-drinking in the office, consider condensing the contents of all those meetings a bit first.

Workflow Automation Statistics

Alright, this one’s obvious—are the robots out to steal our jobs, or are they not?

In short, they kind of are, but they also create new jobs, so it evens out.

Hopefully.

Below, we’ll look at some interesting facts about human biology and our limitations compared to AI.

12. The human brain can focus for 90-120 minutes at a time.

(Source: CNBC)

There are many reasons for the lack of productivity among workers. Here’s one of them. 

You’ve likely heard of the term “circadian rhythm”—it’s the one that regulates sleep. But there’s also such a thing as “ultradian rhythm”. It’s similar but on a smaller scale. It completes a cycle every 90-120 minutes.

We experience these cycles as periods of high energy, followed by exhaustion. 

So, how do we stay productive?

Ideally, by taking short breaks after every 1.5-2 hours of work in order to let our bodies rest and recharge.

13. Multitasking decreases productivity by up to 40%.

(Source: Forbes)

We fully realize many job offers describe the “ideal candidate” as a multitasking machine. But unless he or she literally is a machine, multitasking isn't a good idea.

In truth, it’s a sure way to tank the productivity of employees—scattering workers’ attention all over the place. You don’t want that. Ideally, you want someone who can focus on a specific task and do it well without getting distracted. That’s the opposite of multitasking.

In fact, multitasking can lower your IQ by up to 15 points if engaging in cognitive tasks.

14. Robots will take over 85 million jobs by 2025.

(Source: World Economic Forum)

As we just explained, humans have certain biological peculiarities that make it difficult to achieve 100% productivity.

Robots don’t have that problem.

Consequently, employers have a good reason to prefer them over us needy creatures. Job loss due to automation is expected to reach 85 million by 2025. That’s a lot of people who’ll be affected.

Luckily, the advent of AI will also give birth to new jobs—as per the WEF’s best estimate, 97 million. In the US, we’re talking about the AI industry being behind 9% of all new jobs by 2025.

So, no, the robots won’t take away our livelihood. There’ll still be plenty of work to be done. It’s just going to be mostly in tech, hence the need for upskilling and reskilling. Might want to get started right away!

15. Corporate investment in AI reached $93.5 billion in 2021.

(Source: Tech Republic)

There are plenty of statistics about AI replacing jobs that once belonged to humans. And there is, admittedly, some truth to them.

Back in 2016, the corporate world invested $17.7 billion in the development of artificial intelligence. In 2019, the same figure stood at $48.8 billion. By 2021, the investment had gone all the way up to $93.5 billion.

Why is everyone going crazy about AI?

Because of the prospect of increasing employee productivity vs hours worked ratio. And, of course, the massive cost savings—it’s all about the bottom line.

Fun fact: Bill Gates has suggested that robots need to be subject to taxation just like regular employees. Otherwise, he believes there’s a genuine risk of them replacing us since, in a free market, the primary concern of any given business is profit.

Wrap Up

If you wanted to know how to be extra productive in a new job and impress your boss, you might be a bit disappointed.

We basically told you the main factors that affect productivity are beyond your control—especially in the office.

On the other hand, you now know that increased productivity doesn’t necessarily mean a higher wage at all, so you shouldn’t feel too bad. That said, try not to get distracted!

If you are an employer, consider cutting down the number of emails and meetings. If there’s one thing to take away from our employee productivity statistics, it’s that reducing distractions and interruptions is your best bet to get more out of your workers.

(And you should probably invest in some remote-work-friendly collaboration software, too.)

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Jordan T. Prodanoff
Jordan T. Prodanoff

A wayfarer by heart, Jordan fancies journeying into foreign lands with a camera in hand almost as much as he enjoys roving the online world. He spends his time poking at letters and pixels, trying to transmogrify them into something cool.