What are the typical office time-wasters, and how do we overcome them?

“Time is money” might be an annoyingly overused phrase. However, it is essential in the business world and also in our personal life. This blog looks into the top typical time-wasters in employees’ daily work and overcoming them.

The common time-wasters

Below are the top common time-wasters among knowledge workers which have been studied over the recent year.

Poorly managed and unstructured meetings

Meetings are very essentials to teams and organizations. Whether face-to-face or via zoom calls, meetings are there for inclusion, participation, communication, teamwork, coordination. However, meetings consume a significant amount of individual and organizational time. When meetings are poorly structured or managed, they can negatively affect employees’ productivity and well-being. For example, 47% of 3164 workers in a 2018 study stated that “too many meetings” was their number one time-waster at the office1. According to a 2019 report, the cost of poorly organized meetings in 2019 was $399 billion in the United States2.

Today, due to the pandemic, many meetings are organized via videoconferencing. Since April 2020, Zoom has had over 300 million daily meeting participants, for instance3. However, videoconferencing has some downsides, for example, “Zoom fatigue” and multitasking, resulting in adverse outcomes4.

Emails and messaging platforms

At today’s workplace, digital overload is a real deal. Workers are bombarded by emails, messages, and alerts that keep them distracted. Employees waste time, attention, and energy on unimportant things that make them exhausted while productivity is low. According to the Information Overload Research group, knowledge workers in the United States waste 25% of their time dealing with massive data streams, translating to the cost of $997 billion annually5.


Many people might think that multitasking is a strength that employees should have. However, studies report there is evidence that multitasking behavior decreases performance quality and quantity. Furthermore, multitasking behavior also proved to have a negative linear relationship with work flow6. Thus, constantly switching between tasks will make employees feel exhausted afterward, as many are half done. Doing two things well at the same time is only possible when at least one task is automated.

Manual, repetitive tasks

According to a 2021 study by UiPath, 67% of global office workers feel crushed by constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. Furthermore, on average, office workers also said they waste 4,5 hours a week on tasks they think could be automated. Doing repetitive tasks keep employees from focusing on tasks that require strategic thinking and creativity. Tasks such as emails, inputting data, creating datasets, scheduling calls and meetings are the top tasks that workers would like to automate7

multitasking time-wasters

Overcome time-wasters with automation and workflow management

The common deal-breaker that the mentioned ‘top time-wasters’ have is that they’re disrupting employees’ workflow. Having a good workflow has positive effects on performance. Besides that, companies should encourage an effective hybrid workforce where mundane tasks are automated.

End-to-end process automation

Automating repetitive tasks has been a go-to option for many organizations to improve time-consuming processes and free employees to do more valuable work. Bots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are well-known for doing a great job of automating simple tasks. However, the promise of RPA to remove headcount from inefficient business processes has not yet materialized. Most RPA implementations automate tasks and require humans to operate bots to complete a simple task. It usually only results in small reductions in labor needs. Therefore,  end-to-end process automation that only requires attention when necessary, will help employees focus on tasks that bring value to the business.

Learn more about end-to-end process automation here.

Workflow management solution

By leveraging workflow management, employees can work in a team as efficiently as possible. No more long meetings when teams are collaborating and handling the right tasks at the right time. On top of that, avoiding overlapping work is also possible. Companies should get rid of rigid workflow structures. Instead, create a workflow that is more personal, flexible, and faster while avoiding time-wasters.

Learn more about a workflow management solution here.

1. The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak, 2018
2. https://normadesign.it/realizzazione-siti-web-torino/meeting-report/  
3. https://backlinko.com/zoom-users 
4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/10464964211015286
5. https://hbr.org/2015/06/conquering-digital-distraction
6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1359432X.2019.1647168?scroll=top&needAccess=true
7. https://www.uipath.com/newsroom/new-study-finds-majority-of-global-office-workers-crushed-by-repetitive-tasks

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