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The EY New Zealand Productivity Pulse - The average work day - EY - New Zealand

The EY New Zealand Productivity Pulse

The average work day

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Overall activities that lead to waste


New Zealand workers spend 46% of their day either at work or travelling to and from work.

Contrary to popular belief, the actual time spent at work has no impact on productivity – it’s similar across all the groups.

The difference is that more productive groups take slightly less time travelling to work, and spend more time on leisure and recreation. They are also less likely to take more than five days of sick leave per year and get slightly less sleep.

Emails are the biggest time-waster

On average, New Zealand workers spend 15% of their day on activities that waste their time and effort.  The causes of that wasted time are surprisingly similar across all industries.

Despite the hype, social media accounts for only 4% of time wasted at work.  The nation’s biggest time waster is emails that are not value-adding. Time spent emailing unproductively accounts for 17% of the hours employees waste each day. Almost as bad is ‘process wasting time’ - waiting for higher authorities to review a decision or waiting for input from other parties (16%). Organisations have the opportunity to review and improve delegations of authority and more strongly empower workers. The most productive workers say they are worse affected than others by time-wasting emails and technology waiting time.

Wasted motion or defects in production processes is a particular issue for the unproductive workers.

Unproductive workers are also more likely to spend time in unnecessary meetings and be involved in meaningless production than their more productive colleagues.

Overall activities that lead to waste

Overall activities that lead to waste

Cut unnecessary bureaucracy to help improve productivity

Of the four areas having the biggest effect on productivity, 23% of New Zealand workers identified organisational design and structure as the number one influence. The above results suggest a continuing focus is needed on streamlining of systems and processes.

The number one recommendation for improving general organisational productivity is to reduce bureaucracy and red tape. Bureaucracy and regulation exist in organisations to manage risk, assign accountability and ensure quality. However they can have unintended consequences of reducing organisations’ flexibility, adding cost and as shown in the Pulse, shrinking productivity. To reduce inefficiency it’s important that organisations take a holistic approach.




  • Braden Dickson
    New Zealand Performance Improvement Leader
    Tel: +64 9 308 1064
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