Newsflash: You’re Not Actually Getting Any Work Done at Work

If you’ve ever worked from home, you’re likely well aware of the fact that it can be about 10,000 times more productive than working from an office. At home, there aren’t chatty coworkers to distract you, endless meetings to attend or time to be wasted simply staring into space because you’re burnt out after working for so many hours straight. However, this truth—which was actually proven in a study showing that workers spend only 45% of their time at work doing the job they were hired to do while the rest of their time goes to unproductive time-sucks—runs counter to the beliefs of many bosses for whom face time is the single most important measure of success.

Apparently, the average American worker spends nearly nine hours a day in the office, which means that we’re “wasting” somewhere around 20 hours a week just hanging out at work in service of an antiquated system that developed long before the digital world enabled us to do our jobs from anywhere. We wonder how much a company’s overall productivity, output and results would be affected by sending all of those employees home to clock in on a project-to-project basis, so that all 40-odd hours of work a week were actually spent on work. If you think about it, some jobs would probably be lost to this newfound productivity, as supervisors would realize that some of the people they employ don’t actually have 40 hours’ worth of work assigned to them each week. Other employees, however, might find themselves freed up to double their output or, at least, stop skipping workouts and other personal obligations in service of arbitrary office hours. Yahoo famously repealed its work-from-home policy to encourage greater unity and collaboration in its employees, and there definitely are benefits to having a collective Kool-Aid from which all employees are drinking regularly. Bonding that takes place in the office can motivate employees, and two heads are often better than one when it comes to problem-solving, brainstorming and innovating. Still, we’d like to see more companies follow the lead of some of Silicon Valley’s brightest in not policing or tracking employees’ daily whereabouts like homeroom teachers taking attendance—but rather basing performance evaluations on actual performances, regardless of where the work takes place. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as more and more companies go this direction, with effects both negative and positive. In the meantime, here are a few tricks for maximizing your productivity to make the best use of the nine hours a day you’re currently clocking.