Stop Goofing Off, Teleworkers!

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

A study says you're losing 15 minutes of valuable work time per day!


A study of Australian employees who have been teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic found that they were losing approximately 15 minutes of productive time per day.

I'm skeptical, based on my own experience. I probably get twice as much done when I work from home as I do at the office.

When you read farther down in the article, it becomes clear that much of the lower productivity appears to be caused, not by slack teleworkers, but because during the pandemic the workers' kids are out of school. In addition to doing their jobs, parents are having to deal with the usual interruptions that kids create as well as trying to prevent their kids from losing too much ground academically by home-schooling during the work day.

"Daddy, I hope your 15 minutes of unproductive time lasts FOREVER!"

Here in the United States, in my state of North Carolina, the 2020-21 public school year started on Monday -- remotely -- and the reports of problems with school technology are legion. It sounds as if parents are now having to serve as their kids' "IT help desks" in addition to everything else.

When you take all of that into account, a loss of only 15 minutes' productivity per day is not bad. Working parents, you have my respect.

The study also said that productivity was reduced even in on-site workplaces because of time spent disinfecting and complying with social distancing requirements.

In the study's defense, the researchers' real concern appears to have been the impact on the Australian economy of this reduced productivity as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. In other words, nobody was really busting on telecommuters, kids, or on-site workers.

My favorite part of this article was the commentary from Daily Mail readers. Let's hear what some real teleworkers have to say:

Here are a few more:

And still more:

For more teleworking fun, you may be interested in yesterday's Karla Miller advice column, about an employer who doesn't want to reimburse a teleworking employee for her home office expenses. (And in a state where that is required by law.)

DISCLAIMER: I very much appreciate my colleagues and think "face time" is important. I'm glad that my office has been able to reopen. But if I need to write a brief or blog post, or work on a project, I do better in "hermit mode."

FULL DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post partly at my office, and partly at home.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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