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Workdays now end 37 minutes earlier than one year ago

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The workday appears to be growing slightly shorter, decreasing 37 minutes year-over-year to 10 hours per day, according to an August 1 report from ActivTrak Productivity Lab.

The shift is occurring exclusively at the end of the day, with workers shutting down about a half-hour earlier than the previous five quarters. This early workday shutdown may be contributing to a decrease in overutilization and signaling a positive shift in employee well-being.

“While the majority of business is still conducted between 9 to 5, we noted a significant change in end-of-day behaviors — with the typical workday ending more than 30 minutes earlier than one year ago,” Sarah Altemus, productivity lab manager for ActivTrak Productivity Lab, said in a statement.

“This shift did not result in a loss of productivity, but rather an improvement in workload balance,” she said. “Factors such as the return of commutes for in-office workers, seasonal summer schedules and better time management could be contributing to this shift.”

In an analysis of more than 38 million hours worked across 20 industries between January 2022 and June 2023, total work time remained flat quarter-over-quarter and decreased only 6 minutes year-over-year — for a total of 7.6 work hours per day.

In addition, the number of overutilized employees fell 13% in the second quarter and year-over-year, which could be related to a slight decrease in multitasking time and better workload distribution.

However, nearly one-third of employees are still overutilized, logging more than 10 hours from the first activity to the last activity of their workday. During that time, about 7.2 hours are considered productive time, and 4.8 hours are considered focus time.

By industry, the workday span is about an hour longer than the average for financial services employees and nearly an hour shorter for insurance industry employees. The rate of overutilization is 43% higher among healthcare employees.

Although productivity remained steady over time in this analysis, other recent reports have noted a downward trend in worker productivity, which has dropped for five consecutive quarters. Multiple factors seem to be at play, including financial concerns, stress and exhaustion from recent years.

Certain aspects of hybrid work may contribute to productivity loss as well. Nearly half of employees say they lose hours of productivity each week due to IT issues, which can affect employee experience, engagement and performance.

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