How much more productive could you be if you worked from home?

I was reading Future Work by Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson last night.  They used a case study from IBM whereby flexible working saw employees produce an extra 19 hours of productive work.  Now suffice to say they don't expand on how that figure was achieved, but I thought I'd have a stab myself.  

1. Getting to/from the office - time saved 7.5 hours per week

I wrote last week about a rather torturous bus journey home from work that took a shade under 2 hours.  It seems that such journey's are common as research found that both walking and cycling to work are much less stressful than driving or taking public transport.  So delays would seem common when travelling under others steam.

Now apparently the average UK commute is the longest in Europe, at 45 minutes each way, so lets bank 1.5 hours per day, or 7.5 hours per week.

2. Distracted by the rumour mill - time saved 3 hours per week

Apparently the average employee spends 3 hours per week having a good old gossip.  Personally I think that's a conservative estimate.  It is suggested that it takes 15 minutes to regain focus after every distraction.  So cutting down on both gossip and other office distractions could be an easy way to win back your time.

3. Meeting after meeting after meeting - time saved 6 hours per week

Some 70% of people regard meetings as a waste of time, yet the average person spends 6 hours per week in them.  Some 90% of people have admitted to daydreaming during a meeting.  There are lots of enterprise social networking tools available now to make sharing information an easy process and would invalidate the need for many meetings.

That's 16 and a half hours of extra productivity we could easily reclaim if we started to work a bit smarter.  To provide a bit of context here, a Microsoft study back in 2005 found that in an average 45 hour working week, 17 hours of that is unproductive work.

What other tips do you have for increasing productivity at work?


Brilliant blog Adi, I just wanted to add the CMI's new survey found that three quarters (75 per cent) of workers waste almost two hours out of their working week due to inefficient managers. Worst management practices responsible for time lost include unclear communication (33 per cent); lack of support (33 per cent); micro-management (26 per cent); and lack of direction (25 per cent).

Taking the average hours wasted in a week (1.51) across the 48 weeks a year that the majority of workers work, this equates to a loss of £900 per employee per year – and a total loss to UK plc of £19.3billion, calculated at a median value rate.

Adi, you are assuming that if we save all that time then we will fill it productively. Won't we just find something else to distract us/create inefficiencies?

Yes, possibly so Vince, but then I suppose I've just been guilty of worrying about inputs as well.  I really don't think anyone is productive for 40 hours every week, so the key would appear to be getting people to be as productive as possible.  If you can give people time back from otherwise useless activities, such as commuting, then that would seem no bad thing.