time tracking statistics

Time Tracking Statistics: What You Need to Know About Tracking Work Hours

It's no secret that most people work somewhere between 35 to 40 hours per week. But since the pandemic, these numbers have slowly crept up. SHRM found that 55% of workers that transitioned to remote work are now putting in extra hours on the weekend.

A few extra hours a week might seem harmless at first, but the long-term effects on average lifespan can be devastating. The World Health Organization has found that working 55+ hours a week lowers average life expectancy and leads to a 35% higher risk of stroke.

Surely companies are changing the way they track time to account for this issue, right? Not necessarily.

Remote work is becoming more and more popular, but time tracking methods have not caught up. 47% of business owners age 50 or older still prefer that their employees use paper timesheets for time tracking.

The uncertainty surrounding time tracking doesn't stop there — and neither do the statistics that support it.

That's why we've leveraged accurate data from our peers in the time tracking software industry to compile a list of some of the most critical time tracking statistics.

At a glance
Table of contents

1. 43% of hourly workers admit to committing time theft

Time management statistics in a recent survey showed that 43% of hourly team members admit to committing time theft.

If you're not familiar with the concept, time theft occurs when an employee accepts pay for work that they didn't actually do. These employees might be punching out early, clocking in a bit late, or exploiting buddy punching.

Most of those who pad their shifts add between 11 to 20 minutes to the hours they work. 21% of employees add 30 minutes to an hour to their shift. Some steal well over two hours a week.

Not all time theft happens when a team member clocks in or out. Some even go as far as wasting time while they're still at work. The most popular ways people track the time they didn't actually work are:

  • Recording inaccurate billable hours

  • Performing personal activities during work hours

  • Taking too many breaks for leisure time

  • Making calls for personal reasons

  • Preparing food

  • Instant messaging

In some cases, employees engage in over five hours of time theft per week. That's far from the only way companies lose money, though.

2. Companies lose $50,000 per employee as a result of employees not tracking time spent on replying to client emails

The average person spends 28% of their workweek answering emails. That doesn't even include the time it takes to search through email threads and clean out their inbox.

That's why it comes as no surprise that emails can cost companies up to $50,000 per employee. Fortunately, there are better communication tools on the market.

For instance, companies that have turned to tools like Slack have seen an increase in their productivity. With Slack, users have seen email use decline by almost 50%. 80% of those surveyed said the switch to Slack had improved their overall company culture.

3. The average worker is productive for only 2 hours and 53 minutes a day

time tracking statistics

Whether you work 30 or 50 hours a week, chances are you aren't working on job-related tasks at all times. A recent study on working hours and time management skills found that the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes a day.

Another study shows that workers spend just 27% of the workday on skill-based tasks. That's not because we spend our days entirely on mundane tasks, though.

What's surprising is that these time-wasting activities don't even begin to scratch the surface of employee productivity issues.

4. Employees have 550 to 750 hours of meeting time every year

average number of hours employees spend on meetings

Meetings are another variable that traditional time tracking systems can't truly quantify. On average, employees attend about 11 to 15 meetings per week. Every year, these meetings consume between 550 to 750 hours of our time.

Depending on the nature of your job, one could argue these meetings are crucial to you and your company's long-term well-being. Sadly, more than one in three people feel they've spent at least five hours of their week in meetings that don't accomplish anything. This is probably the reason a lot of us are multitasking during meetings and audio conferences.

Two in three employees believe that too much time in meetings prevents them from making a positive impact at work. 35% would still attend meetings they knew weren't going to be productive.

Asana has coined the term "work about work" to describe time used to discuss work. They've found that they need more time specifically for independent tasks. No wonder teams have started to implement a no-meeting day each week.

5. Employees spend nearly an hour commuting to and from work each day

average number of hours employees spend commuting

The average US worker spends 55 minutes per day commuting to and from work. For most, this extra hour a day isn't covered by their employers.

If you work in a field service role, you might get paid for the time you spend driving to job sites, buying parts at the store, or driving to and eating lunch on the go.

The FLSA essentially defines this billable time as time spent driving between arriving at the first worksite and departing the last work site at the end of the day.

In a high-traffic state like California, this drive time can cost employees quite a bit. That's why many companies turn to geofencing software to track how much time their employees spend on-premise.

6. Time tracking tools show that the average person uses the internet for more than 6 hours a day

average number of hours a person spends on the internet

The average person uses the internet for 6 hours and 42 minutes a day. Employees spend an estimated 13 hours a week on social media while at work.

According to a NetQuote survey, workers waste most of their time on these social media websites:

  • YouTube (16.98 days annually)

  • Facebook (14.70 days annually)

  • Instagram (8.72 days annually)

  • Twitter (5.91 days annually)

Salary.com polled 3200 people to find how many hours a week employees spend on non-work-related internet activities. The results were surprising:

  • 39% - An hour or less per week on non-work-related items

  • 29% - 2 hours per week

  • 21% - Up to 5 hours

  • 3% - 10 or more hours

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7. The average American works 38.7 hours a week

The OECD defines hours worked as "the total number of hours actually worked per year divided by the average number of people in employment per year."

By this definition, the average American works just under 39 hours a week. This might not sound that imposing at first glance, but not all countries are accustomed to the 40-hour workweek. The United States ranks 11th in total hours worked among all OECD countries.

The near-40-hour American workweek is longer than in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and all OECD countries.

8. 1 in 5 business owners work 60+ hours a week

how many business owners work 60+ hours a week

If a 39-hour workweek is above average, imagine how small business owners feel. A study from The Alternative Board (TAB) found that 19% of small business owners work over 60 hours a week. Almost a third of entrepreneurs are working over 50 hours a week.

While larger companies are transitioning to four-day workweeks, 97% of small business owners are still working weekends. When asked about their hours, 79% of TAB survey respondents felt that they were working too much.

32% cited tasks that they didn’t trust others with as the biggest reason why. Others suffer from poor time management. This might explain why only 44% of small business owners take 16 days of vacation or more each year.

9. Almost half of employees will leave their job after two payroll issues

49% of employees will look for a new job after experiencing two issues with payroll. This lack of patience is understandable when considering that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

It's important to get payroll right, but it’s time-consuming. An NSBA survey found that payroll taxes were ranked as the most burdensome administrative task for small businesses.

For global teams, you also have to factor in different payroll laws across different states, countries, and territories. It's safe to say that human resources managers for distributed teams probably spend even more time per pay period on payroll.

10. Scandinavian workers work fewer hours than Americans while making comparable salaries

According to the 2021 World Happiness Report, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the fourth straight year. The rest of the Scandinavian countries follow close behind.

The freedom to make their own choices, limited pollution, and overall sense of community are big reasons why the region continues to find success and a high quality of life. One of the more overlooked reasons is an emphasis on a healthy work-life balance.

Scandinavians work fewer hours than American workers each year, but some still earn comparable monthly salaries. Take a look at a country like Iceland. They rank in the bottom 10 of the OECD in hours worked but second in average wages (trailing only the US).

Denmark works less than any country other than Germany, but they still rank in the top six in the OECD for monthly earnings.

So how is it possible for Scandinavian countries to work less but still produce enough to warrant comparable monthly wages? Well, studies have actually shown that decreased hours can lead to increased productivity.

Supercharge your time tracking with Hubstaff

hubstaff time tracking

There's plenty of time tracking statistics we haven't even begun to scratch the surface on. Don't sweat the details, though.

The critical thing to remember is that outdated attempts at time tracking and payroll cost employees and employers time, money, and peace of mind in different countries around the world.

If your team faces any of these issues, you might want to consider automated time tracking tools like Hubstaff. With Hubstaff's time tracking and proof of work features, you can:

  • Track time spent on productive tasks, as well as time wasted on unproductive tasks

  • Generate accurate timesheets automatically

  • Measure productivity and compare your team’s productivity with industry benchmarks

  • Set hourly limits to reduce burnout and overtime costs

  • Set project budgets and get alerts when your team gets close to going over budget

  • Generate detailed reports that show how your team spends time at work

  • ...and more

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