Email and social networking wasting billions as workers get distracted says survey

20 May 2011

The proliferation of collaboration and social tools designed to increase productivity is actually costing UK businesses 57.8 billion pounds per year in lost productivity, according to a survey of more than 500 international organisations of all sizes conducted by online market research firm uSamp (United Sample) and commissioned by social email software provider

Nearly 60% of work interruptions now involve either using tools like email, social networks, text messaging and IM, or switching windows among disparate standalone tools and applications. In fact, 45% of employees work only 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted, and 53% waste at least one hour a day due to all types of distractions.

 That hour per day translates into £3,277.50 of wasted productivity per person annually, assuming an average salary of £14.25/hour. That is more than the average driver will spend this year to own and maintain a car. For businesses with 1,000 employees, the cost of employee interruptions exceeds £3.2 million per year and total cost to UK PLC is £57.8 billion.

“This survey paints a picture of a highly distracted workplace with a particular irony:  information technology that was designed at least in part to save time is actually doing precisely the opposite. The very tools we rely on to do our jobs are also interfering with that mission. We’re clearly seeing what psychologists call ‘online compulsive disorder’ spill over from our personal lives to the work environment,” said Yaacov Cohen, co-founder and CEO of “For all of us, it’s time to take back the Internet and find ways to control our digital addiction.”

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