Remote Working Study: Do People Waste More Time While Working From Home?

With the shift towards jobs offering fully-remote or hybrid roles, it’s safe to say that working from home is quickly becoming the new norm in many industries. But with this increased freedom in working stations comes worry from some hands-on managers that employees may not be as productive outside of an office setting. 

To truly find out, SEO agency, Reboot, carried out a survey of over 5,000 people to find out whether people waste more time working from home, or in the office, and what they’re getting distracted by. 

The Sectors That Waste the Most Time While Working From Home

An asset showing the number of hours wasted while working from home

Turns out, Retail, Environment and Agriculture, Law Enforcement and Security, Sport and Tourism, and Engineering and Manufacturing workers waste the most time per week while working from home with five hours on average being spent on other activities — almost 14% of a standard 37-hour working week in the UK. 

These are followed by a number of industries where respondents estimated that they waste three paid hours a week doing activities like scrolling on social media, internet shopping, and self-grooming. These industries include:

  • Sales

  • Property and Construction

  • Social Care

  • Transport and Logistics

  • Public Services and Administration

  • Advertising and PR

  • Hospitality and Events Management

  • Charity and Voluntary Work

  • Healthcare

  • Leisure

  • Science and Pharmaceuticals

Some of these industries include companies like an online sales organisation, digital PR agency, or even a company in the charity sector. 

The remainder of the top 15 sectors that waste the most time while working from home only admitted to an average of one wasted hour a week. A few of these industries include IT, Legal, Energy and Utilities, and Business

The Sectors That Waste the Most Time While in the Office

An asset showing how much time is wasted while working in the office

An impressive 10 hours a week are wasted by workers in the Public Services and Administration who work from the office. Comparatively, home-based workers from this industry waste seven hours less per week than these office workers (at just three!). 

Retail, Sales, Advertising and PR, as well as Energy and Utilities workers waste a total of nine hours a week working from the office. The data shows that hybrid Energy and Utilities workers waste only one working hour per week, which is the same as remote workers in this industry. Those on hybrid work schedules in Retail and Advertising and PR industries only admitted to wasting three hours per week.

It can also be said that working from the office is a waste of time for those in Hospitality and Events Management, IT, and Recruitment and HR sectors. 

The sectors that waste the least amount of time while working from the office are Engineering and Manufacturing, and Science and Pharmaceuticals! Workers in these industries only admit to wasting an hour while in the workplace.

The Sectors That Waste the Most Time With Hybrid Working

An asset showing how much time is wasted in hybrid roles

Sales, an industry that appeared in joint second place for the most time wasted working from the office, is in joint first place for hybrid workers. It is joined by those working within Property and Construction, Social Care, and Transport and Logistics — all admitting to wasting an average of five hours a week. 

There are a fair few industries that waste a maximum of three hours a week while working in a hybrid role. Just a few of them include Sport and Tourism, Healthcare, Teaching and Education, and Legal. 

Then comes the industries that have only admitted to wasting an hour a week when working a hybrid schedule. Some of them are Media and Internet, Business, Science and Pharmaceuticals, and Marketing

How Do People Waste Time While Working From Home?

An asset showing what people waste their time on while working from home

We’re not just interested in how long people are wasting time while working from home, we also want to know what they’re doing. 

After asking home workers what they waste the most time on, 227 people admitted to scrolling on social media. Whether it’s TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook — the draw is strong enough to pull over 12% of remote workers away from their job responsibilities. 

Self-grooming comes in second place (with over 11% of WFHers admitting to it), with browsing the internet and doing a spot of online shopping (11%) taking the third spot. 

The fourth and fifth activities remote workers waste the most time on are playing computer games with 5.8% of respondents doing it and socialising at 5.6%. 

Shockingly, 96 people admitted to wasting time on sexual activities while on the clock which works out at just over 5% of people! 

How Do People Waste Time While Working in an Office or Hybrid?

An asset showing what people waste their time on while working in the office or hybrid

From the data we know that more time is wasted in the office, but what is it wasted on? 

Using social media has stayed as the highest time-wasting activity. However, more people seem to do it while working in the office with 23% (266 respondents) saying they’ve spent paid time scrolling through their accounts.

Internet browning/shopping (almost 20%) comes in second place — one place higher than working from home — which is followed by socialising (14%). Hey, we’ve all been guilty of stopping at a friend’s desk while working in the office for a gossip session, right?! 

Some surprising entries that weren’t present on the working from home portion of this study are daydreaming, and eating and drinking — with respective results of almost 10% and nearly 7% of those surveyed saying they’ve spent some of their paid hours doing them. 

Working from the office doesn’t put an end to sex on the clock either, with 1.4% of respondents admitting to wasting time in the throes of passion. 

Are People More Productive While Working From Home?

An asset showing whether people feel they're more productive in the office or working from home

We can see which one is most productive in the debate between working from home or from an office, but did the survey respondents perceive the same productivity? 

…They did! 

Over 37% of those surveyed believe they are more productive when working from home, with only 18% thinking they do better work in an office. 

Strangely, over 44% think they’re not productive in either setting which could be…worrying for their bosses. 



1. Reboot Link Building Company sought to find out the workers that waste the most working hours.

2. A UK survey was carried out, asking participants the following questions:

What region do you live in?

Do you work from home?

What sector do you belong to?

What is your mode of work?

How much time would you say you waste each week in hours?

What activity do you waste the most time on when working from home?

What activity do you waste the most time on when working from the office?

If experienced both, do you think you’re more productive working at home or in the office?

3. In total, 5,265 people aged between 18 and 65 completed the survey.

4. Results were then ranked based on the number of hours people from the different job sectors waste, so that the sectors which waste the most time could be determined.

5. The survey was conducted in September 2022.