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More Than Half of the Working Day Is Spent Kinda, Sorta Working

  • Time devoted to long-term strategic planning declined in 2021
  • Germans spend greatest share of the day doing their actual job
The global survey of more than 10,600 so-called knowledge workers found a decline in strategic work.

The global survey of more than 10,600 so-called knowledge workers found a decline in strategic work.

Photographer: Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The pandemic has forever altered many aspects of work, but there’s one thing it hasn’t changed -- how much time we spend just shuffling paper around.

White-collar workers devote more than half their day to “work coordination,” which includes following up on things, searching for information and communicating about work, according to a survey by business software maker Asana Inc. While there are regional differences -- Germans devote a bit less of their day to such mundane tasks than Americans -- the results are broadly similar across the globe: Only about a third of the workday is spent doing what we were actually hired to do, and that hasn’t changed much since 2019.