Last updated October 9, 2023
90% of Employees Admit to Wasting Company Time on Personal Phones
- 90.5% of employees admit that they use their personal phone during work time to check on personal matters or non work-related activity.
- Desk workers are potentially stealing up to 1.2 million hours per day, across the USA, using smartphones for private matters. This equates to $24 million of lost time paid out to staff. An eye watering 6 billion dollars per year of non productivity in wasted wages could be seen across the US.
- 49.8% admit to using their personal phone for up to an hour a day. 28.9% admit to spending up to 2 hours on their private phone each day. 11.3% use their private phone for up to 3 hours, and 9.8% use their personal phone for up to 4 hours or more.
- 65% are calling or messaging their partner when at work, 61% are keeping in contact with friends and family, 39.2% call/message their kids. 18.5% admit to gaming in work time. 17.8% are watching Netflix, Apple TV, Prime etc whilst at work. 48.6% are guilty of looking at social media. 29.1% are using work time to complete online shopping. 12.4% admit to using their phones during work time to plan vacations.
- Hybrid workers seem to be the worst offenders for personal phone usage during works time, with 93% saying they use their personal phone at work and only 7% saying they don’t. The swing between work and home is obviously not easily made.
How Much Time Do Employees Spend on Personal Phones at Work?
Smartphone ownership globally is at a record high with 1747.8 million mobile phones sold per year. With 71% of people reporting that they prefer their phone to their partner, is this smartphone obsession now permeating into workplaces? Following a shift to remote work in 2020 during Covid, SellCell reported that 8 out of 10 remote workers admitted to slacking off work at home. But in 2023 are employees still spending too much work time on their smartphone for personal matters?
US Tech trade-in site site, SellCell have interviewed over 1,000+ US adults in full time work (working in an office/workplace or from home – hybrid) to understand the following:
- How many employees admit to using their phone when they are supposed to be working?
- How much time they are spending on their personal phones each day
- What they are doing on their phones during the workday e.g. chatting, social media, gaming, watching videos?
This report will also look at the potential financial impact of employees stealing ‘working time’ from business owners during the cost of living crisis.
Question 1 – Do you work from home or in an office/ workplace?
|Do you work from home or in an office / workplace?|
|Home||27.46% / 279|
|Office / Workplace||47.34% / 481|
|Hybrid (Combination of Home & Workplace)||25.20% / 256|
To set the scene, SellCell looked at how many of the sample worked from home, office or hybrid. The majority 47.3% of those surveyed worked from the office.
Question 2 – Do you use your personal phone at work to check on personal matters?
|Do you use your personal phone at work to check on personal matters?|
|Yes||90.55% / 920|
|No||9.45% / 96|
People were asked if they use their personal phone at work to check on personal matters. A resounding and quite astonishing 90.5% admit that they use their personal phone in the office for personal matters. Only 9.4% state that they do not use their personal phone during work hours.
Question 3-How long do you use your phone per day for personal use whilst at work?
|How long do you use your phone per day for personal use whilst at work? (Select one)|
|up to 1 hour||49.89% / 459|
|up to 2 hours||28.91% / 266|
|up to 3 hours||11.30% / 104|
|up to 4 hours or more||9.89% / 91|
Out of the 90.5% that admitted to using their personal mobile phone for non-work related matters; 49.8% admit to using it for up to an hour for personal matters. 28.9% admit to spending up to 2 hours on their private phone for personal matters each day when at work. 11.3% use their private phone for up to 3 hours, and a terrifying 9.8% will use their personal phone for up to 4 hours or more. To put it into perspective that is literally over half of the working day.
Question 4 – What are you using your personal phone for at work?
|What are you using your personal phone for at work? (Tick any that apply)|
|Call / message partner||65.03% / 597|
|Call / messages kids||39.22% / 360|
|Call / message friends or family||61.00% / 560|
|Look at social media||48.69% / 447|
|Watch TV, Netflix, Prime, YouTube, Apple TV, Disney, etc.||17.86% / 164|
|Online shopping||29.19% / 268|
|Check personal emails||56.75% / 521|
|Check dating apps||7.41% / 68|
|Read news||33.66% / 309|
|Look for another job||8.82% / 81|
|Side hustle (another job)||11.11% / 102|
|Manage personal finances||28.21% / 259|
|Vacation planning||12.42% / 114|
|Play games||18.52% / 170|
SellCell asked what people were doing on their personal phone when at work. 65% are calling or messaging their partner, 61% keeping in contact with friends and family, 39.2% call/ message their kids. More atypically, 18.5% admit to gaming in work time.17.8% are watching Netflix, Apple TV, Prime etc. 48.6% are guilty of looking at social media. 29.1% are using work time to complete online shopping. 12.4% admit to using their phones during work time to plan vacations.
Question 5 – Would your employer be annoyed ?
|Would your employer be annoyed if they knew you were using your personal phone in work time?|
|Yes||41.72% / 383|
|No||58.28% / 535|
Respondents were asked if they thought their employer would be bothered if they were using their personal phone during work. 41.7% said their boss would be annoyed, yet still break the rules and use their private phone. 58.2% feel their boss would be ok using the personal phone whilst at work. This may not be the case if employers realised how much time is being spent on personal matters on a daily basis.
Potential Financial Impact to Employees Wasting Time on Their Private Phones
The potential financial impact of workers spending so much time on their devices rather than working is quite frankly worrying. If the survey figures are mapped over some general population figures the financial impact for the country is astounding. The USA currently has 754,633 desk workers. First off, we can take 90% of this figure (679,169). We can then work out the % sum collective of the 679,169 that are accessing their phone for up to 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours and then 4 hours a day. We can then multiply these numbers by the number of hours a day across each time group to find out the total hours of time stolen in a day across desk workers in the USA.
This equates to 1.2 million hours a day that workers are playing with their personal phones and circa $24 million in wasted payments to staff for non productivity on a daily basis. This is based on an average hourly rate of $19.71. This equates to 6 billion dollars of annual wasted worker payments that are potentially lost whilst employees are engaged in personal matters on their phones.
Are you More Likely To Play Hooky From Home?
Interestingly, it doesn’t really matter whether you work from home, workplace/ office or between both. What is key is workers are using personal phones pretty much wherever they are during their workday to check on personal things. Hybrid workers seem to be the naughtiest with 93% saying they use their personal phone at work and only 7% saying they don’t. Maybe the shift between work and home in these cases isn’t too clean.
Are Employees Spending Too Much Time on Personal Phones at Work?
It appears that employees are spending far too much time on personal phones. With 90% of workers admitting to accessing their personal phones for non work related activity the lines between work and personal time have become distorted. Post covid and the work from home phenomen it has been clear that workers have been more distracted by phones at home with 8 out of 10 remote workers aditting to slacking off work. But the number of employees accessing phones in the office/ workplace are as high now as they are at home. With 93% of hybrid workers accessing their personal phone everyday, it is clear that the lines of demacation between the office and work are fundamentally blurred. The financial impact of these figures modelled for all desk workers in the USA show a productivity crisis that is being fuelled by an obsession to routinely check personal phones.
SellCell.com is the USA’s no 1 site for trading in phones & tech. SellCell is also a data provider and aggregator and brings the press some of the world’s leading statistics and insights across smartphone trends and how they merge with human behavor. SellCell regularly appears in global publications including Forbes, PC World, Independent, Daily Mirror, Sun, Daily Express, Mashable, Phone Arena, USA Today, Yahoo, AOL and leading tech and lifestyle news publications.
SellCell surveyed 1000+ adults in full time employment in the USA who worked in an office/workplace/ at home or across both (hybrid). The intention was to find out how many staff were using their personal mobile phone during work time.
The survey was conducted through a leading independent online survey specialist (Survey Monkey). No personal, identifiable details were stored as part of the survey.