Distracted Brits could have cost bosses £3,900 each in ‘lost’ time during the pandemic according to a new study, and residents of Cardiff are among the worst offenders.

The survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by photo ID card specialists, Digital ID, delved into the nation’s attitudes towards working from home and returning to the office.

It found that on average Brits working from home, wasted nearly 45 minutes of time on ‘non-work-related’ activities, during ‘office hours’ each day, which equates to nearly 3.75 hours of wasted time per person, per week.

In Wales, this was higher than the average for the entire UK – around 47 minutes, workers in Cardiff were second only to Birmingham when it came to hours wasted on social media.

When questioned about how often they used social media during ‘office’ hours, 41% in Wales said they used sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for over 30 minutes a day in the time they should be hard at work. Just under a third, 32% said it was over an hour and 22% said it was for two hours plus, while ‘on the clock’. Only 5% of the population of Cardiff said they don’t use social media at all within working hours.

The company has created an online tool that calculates how much this equates in line with different salary brackets – https://www.digitalid.co.uk/info/social-media-addiction.

Taking the national average salary of £38,000pa, just fifteen minutes a day spent on Instagram or Facebook could cost bosses around £1500 per year, per employee!

And bingeing on the latest box set, another of the nation’s favourite activities while working from home, could also be costing companies thousands.

Watching just one 50-minute episode of Sex Education (Netflix’s hit series that was filmed in Wales) per day on employer’s time would cost companies on average £84 per week. That’s £4200 over the course of a year, per employee.

When asked their thoughts about homeworking coming to an end ‘not being able to use their break for whatever they like’, was highlighted by 39% of Brits as their main concern.

This leapt to over half in the younger age groups, with 53% of under 24s saying that not having flexibility to do what they want at breaktime was the main reason they don’t want to head back to the office.

On those breaks, an overwhelming 67% chose ‘social media’ as their favourite thing to do, watching Netflix/TV was a close second gaining 53% of the vote. Exercise/going for a run 31%, household chores 30% and online shopping 27% made up the top five answers.

Jonathan Fell, group managing director of Digital ID said: “Working from home can have many benefits for both companies and employees. However, what our research has shown is that there is a downside and for some bosses, it could be an expensive one.

A quick scroll through Facebook. A little browse on Amazon. Putting on a quick wash – all tasks that don’t take too long but if done frequently they all add up and the cost in lost time can quickly mount up for businesses with home workers. On return to office working there could be a huge culture shock from many people who have got used to working on their own terms.

“Supporting staff on the return to work is going to be really important as many try to adjust to life pre-pandemic. Things like a phased return to working with options for some flexibility could be one option.

“Rather than play a blame game management teams will need to think about how to reintegrate staff into an office environment. Aside from the cost to business, social media addiction does have a serious side and if it is getting in the way of everyday responsibilities, it is a problem that really needs addressing. We know that social media can be a driver for poor mental health, so as a business, we have invested heavily in mental health support for our staff, including the introduction of mental health first aiders, who are specially trained to spot issues and support our employees.”

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.