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Most Workers Exceed 9-5 Workday

Tamara E. Holmes
Most Workers Exceed 9-5 Workday

If your time spent at work sometimes feels like it’ll never end, it could be because the average workday is nearly 10 hours long, a new survey shows.

Zapier, a company that helps employers with their workplace automation needs, surveyed 1,180 employed adults to determine how much time they spend fulfilling their work obligations. Of the survey sample, 886 reported working in a professional setting and using a computer to perform at least some of their work duties.

The study focuses on knowledge workers, employees whose jobs involve thinking and have to do with the handling of information. According to the Zapier research, 74% of employees are considered knowledge workers, and 63% of knowledge workers supervise other employees. Among millennials — those defined by the study as being between 23-38 — 78% of employees are knowledge workers. Comparatively, 77% of Gen Xers (those between ages 39-54) and 67% of baby boomers (those between 55-73) are knowledge workers.

A breakdown of the workday

While the term 9-to-5 is often used to describe a normal eight-hour work shift, the Zapier survey found that knowledge workers, in fact, spend on average 9.6 hours a day at work. However, all of that time isn’t necessarily productive, the survey found.

Knowledge workers surveyed said they typically spend, on average, 5.8 hours per workday doing what they described as “meaningful work.” The remaining 3.8 hours were spent completing what they called “busy work.”

Survey respondents also said they believed it would take them, on average, 6.9 hours to complete their work effectively on a typical day based on how productive they were.

Survey respondents don’t just deem busy work as inconsequential. Many are stressed out by it. In fact, busy work was the top work-related stressor among respondents, with 36% of knowledge workers surveyed saying it’s one of the most stressful parts of their job. Other work stressors included:

  • Being unable to unplug from work (31%)
  • Dealing with a bad manager (30%)
  • Managing conflicts with co-workers (27%)
  • Not having enough paid time off (25%)
  • A stressful commute (18%)
  • Poor health benefits (18%)

Most knowledge workers — 87% — said they were stressed out by at least one aspect of their jobs.

While long hours and busy work likely contribute to that stress, respondents voiced a desire to make a change in 2020. In fact, 30% said one of their career resolutions for the new year is to become more productive at work.

Since workers spend so many hours in the workplace, it’s important to find a job that meets as many of your needs as possible. If you feel unfairly saddled with busy work, try talking to a manager about whether it’s possible to automate some tasks or otherwise lighten your load. If that doesn’t work, you may be able to convince your manager to let you spend some of your hours working from home. If all else fails and you’re very unhappy, now may be a good time to consider whether you would like to make a career change.