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Build Your Career Office Life

How Much Time Are Your Employees Wasting on Their Phones?

How Much Time Are Your Employees Wasting on Their Phones?
Credit: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

While their time cards might say they are putting in a full day, many employees aren't devoting all their time in the office to their work, new research finds.

The study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam revealed that mobile devices are the biggest distraction during the workday. Specifically, workers waste an average of 56 minutes per day, nearly five hours a week, using their mobile devices for non-work activities.

The research shows that employees are using cell phones for a wide range of non-work-related activities. Thirty percent say they spend most of their time checking personal email, with 28 percent admitting to perusing social networks. Checking out sports or entertainment sites, playing mobile games, and doing some online shopping are the other ways workers say they waste most of their time on their mobile devices. [Want to increase productivity? Cut back on meetings and distractions]

"It's understandable that employees may occasionally use their mobile devices or attend to personal tasks during business hours," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, in a statement. "But these activities can easily become big distractions."

Employees are also using their mobile devices to get around road blocks employers have in place to keep their staff focused on work. Nearly 60 percent of the employees surveyed said they often use their personal devices at work to access websites that are blocked by their company, up from just 22 percent who did so in 2012.

More than half of the employees surveyed said their company blocks them from visiting at least some websites in the office. The research found that 39 percent of employers block social media sites on the company network, 30 percent restrict access to entertainment sites, 27 percent don't allow visits to online shopping sites, and 23 percent bar employees from checking out sports websites.

Cell phones aren't the only distractions. Employees also admit to spending 42 minutes a day, on average, on personal tasks. When added together with the time they spend on their mobile devices, employees are wasting nearly eight hours, close to one full day a week, on non-work tasks.

Britton said employees should better manage their time so they aren't wasting valuable working hours.

"To best manage their time, staff can take advantage of breaks during lunch and throughout the day to catch up on non-work email or errands," she said.

The study was based on surveys of more than 300 U.S. workers employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.