American workers spend almost two hours a day at work calling friends, surfing the Internet, running errands and "spacing out," according to the second annual survey of time wasted at work by America Online and Salary.com.
The survey polled 2,706 workers last month, including AOL users and corporate human resource professionals. Results were based on an eight-hour day.
Workers reported wasting 1.86 hours a day, down from last year's tally of 2.09 hours.
The decrease might not necessarily mean employees are working more.
"I think it shows a trend that the lines are getting blurred between what's wasted time and what's acceptable," said Lena Bottos, director of compensation at Salary.com.
"Is it wasted time if you spend 20 minutes looking for a baby sitter because you had to work late? Is it wasted time if you're figuring out your 401(k) - something that's provided by your company and could be considered work-related?"
Percentage of workers who engage the following time-wasting activities at work, according to a survey by AOL.com and Salary.com: 1. Surfing Internet, 44.7 2. Socializing with co-workers, 23.4 3. Conducting personal business, 6.8 4. Spacing out, 3.9 5. Running errands off-premises, 3.1 6. Making personal phone calls, 2.3 7. Applying for other jobs, 1.3 8. Planning personal events, 1 8. Arriving late/leaving early, 1 10. Other, 12.5
The survey found that companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when figuring employee pay. It also found that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.
Employers spend $544 billion per year on salaries for which work is expected, but none is done, according to Salary.com.
But taking breaks is expected from employees, Bottos said.
"There's nothing wrong with taking a break or taking time to do some personal things if you work more than eight hours a day and need to take care of a bank errand and the bank is closed when you get off work," she said.
It becomes a problem when a company pays an employee for working eight hours and the employee spends an hour doing personal e-mail or has trouble making deadline, she added.
Michael Perkins, co-founder of the Southfield, Mich., jobs coaching firm IntervieWize, said slacking off every once in awhile was inevitable.
But too much could be a sign that you are either bored or overwhelmed with responsibilities and simply have no other time to do things like pay bills or buy a plane ticket.