Working 8 to 6 ... with time out for a chat

THE traditional nine-to-five working day is a thing of the past, according to a new survey that shows most office workers are spending an extra hour a day at their desks.

A survey of 1,000 office workers revealed that the average working day now stretches from 8.37am to 5.37pm, although much of that extra time is not used for working.

According to the figures, the average worker spends 17.4 minutes a day making tea, 18.6 minutes staring out a window, 11.1 minutes making personal calls and 35.5 minutes gossiping.

Fixing computer issues takes an average of 46 minutes a day, while the average worker spends 13.7 minutes on loo breaks and 54 minutes a day browsing the internet.

Professor Cary Cooper, an expert on organisation, psychology and health at Lancaster University, said the results demonstrated a culture of "presenteeism". He continued: "We now have the longest working hours in Europe, but I was interested to find out what people are doing with their time.

"It looks like the old 9 to 5 has now become 8.30 to 6 for many people. In the City of London, it is something like 8.30 to 6.30.

"For a lot of professional people, like teachers and social workers, the working day is longer by around two hours. And yet for many people, only some of this time is productive.

"Some of these long hours are down to what I call 'presenteeism', where workers feel they have to put in long hours because of job insecurity. Jobs are no longer for life and people feel they have to stay at their desks for longer to stay in work."

Prof Cooper's study of 1,000 office workers found most spent almost an hour a day surfing the internet, while problems with computers swallowed up more than three-quarters of an hour.

Chatting with colleagues, making calls to friends and tea and toilet breaks also took office workers away from the task in hand, adding up to an average of almost three hours a day spent on "unproductive" tasks.

Prof Cooper believes that more flexible working practices are the answer and that employers would benefit from allowing more people to work from home or to vary their hours to suit their families.

He said: "Working longer hours can adversely affect your health and interfere with your family life and private time as well as undermining productivity.

"With so many distractions in the modern office, it is not surprising that our minds wander.

"However, we don't have to make drastic changes to enjoy a more efficient - and shorter - working day."

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