Anyone who has worked with me knows that the word “busy” is a banned word, or as described to me recently “the real four letter word”. Why I hear you ask – because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn’t drive better business outcomes.

For years now we have heard that people are working harder and longer hours. Logic would suggest productivity would be increasing respectively otherwise we would all be working smarter and less hours.

Astounding UK research with 2,000 respondents, (CIPD People Management – December 2013) indicated that 21% felt they were fully productive, however on average employees believed they actually work for 2 hours 53 minutes each day! So what happened to the other 5 hours? Well apparently news websites are a major distraction closely followed by social media sites. Chatting with co-workers, smoking and making a cuppa also received a honourable mention.

Similarly in a Salary.com survey “Employees really do waste time at work” (2012), 64% of employees (out of 3,200 respondents) agreed they visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 21% admitted they waste five hours per week and 3 percent said they waste 10 hours or more on unrelated activities.

Office politics and meaningless meetings were also highlighted as elements impacting on productivity.

I’m no mathematician, but it sounds to me that some companies are hemorrhaging resources while paying employees to be engaged in non-work related activities. So what is your workforce busy doing?

Stephen Covey suggests, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”. Do we set reasonable expectations and hold our teams accountable for deliverables? How do we measure our team’s productivity?

How do leaders optimise their workforce’s productivity whilst maintaining engagement? Have lawyers had it right all the time by accounting for every 6-minute block?

So are we all busy being productive or are we just really busy doing stuff? Yours to ponder!