Survey Shows Meetings, Interruptions Top Time-Wasters at Work

MENLO PARK, CA -- Face time isn't always time well spent, a new nationwide survey suggests. More than a quarter (27 percent) of workers polled said meetings are the biggest culprit when it comes to hours wasted on the job. Unnecessary interruptions ranked a close second, with 26 percent of the response.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 613 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed. The findings are part of the "OfficeTeam Career Challenge," a project that can help administrative professionals advance their careers. The results coincide with Administrative Professionals Week, April 20-26, which recognizes the contributions of support staff nationwide. For more information on the project, and to take the Career Challenge Quiz, visit

Survey respondents were asked, "Which one of the following would you say is the worst culprit in terms of wasting the most time?" Their responses: 

Meetings that last too long   27%
Unnecessary interruptions   26%
Socializing too much with colleagues   21%
Disorganized work area   21%
Don't know/no answer   5%

"Lean staffing levels within many of today's companies have placed increased pressure on employees to manage their time effectively," said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Unproductive meetings and needless interruptions can cause workers to get behind or log more hours unnecessarily."

Hughes advised workers to be selective with the meetings they attend. "If employees aren't directly involved with the project at hand or they don't have significant contributions to make, they may want to bypass the gathering."

Hughes noted the following "red flags" that can indicate a mismanaged meeting: 

  • No meeting leader. If no one is in charge of keeping the meeting on track, it could easily go into overtime.
  • Lack of objective. The meeting should have a distinct purpose, whether it's to get everyone up to speed on a project or identify a solution to a problem. 
  • Lengthy invite list. Are you being invited to the meeting because your input is needed or as a courtesy? When the list of attendees is extensive, it's often because the person holding the meeting doesn't want to exclude anyone, not because each employee's participation is necessary. 
  • It's part of the routine. Regularly scheduled meetings can lose their value over time. Determine if any agenda items pertain to you before agreeing to attend.  

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Administrative Professionals Day is April 23 and is sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

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