Man Says He Noticed Full-Time Employees At His Job Don’t Actually Do 8 Hours Of Work Per Day — And Research Proves Him Right

Shocker — the corporate work schedule isn't doing us any favors.

Man unproductive at work TetianaKtv / Shutterstock

“Is it normal to only be busy for half of an 8-hour workday?” corporate employee Drew Schuler asked in a recent TikTok. "Because the majority of people I ask, this is the case for them."

The corporate employee noticed his colleagues weren’t doing 8 hours of work — despite being at the office all day.

“I graduated college two years ago and almost immediately started working a full-time job,” Schuler explained. “One of the first things I noticed was that people weren’t working a full eight-hour day.”

@drewschuler_ Is it really that common to only be busy for half of the 8 hour work day? #worklife #9to5 #officejob #working9to5 ♬ original sound - Drew’s Views

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“I don’t mean that people aren’t coming to the office for 8 hours a day," he clarified. "What they aren’t doing is a full 8-hour productive work day — like working the entire time they’re there.” 


Schuler isn't alone in his observation. Amid expectations to “stay busy,” maintain a solid work ethic, and go “above and beyond” for corporate companies and leadership, many commenters admitted they, too, spend more time trying to look busy than actually doing work. 

But is this because they don't have enough work to do? For some, that may be the case. But many corporate employees would strongly disagree. It likely has more to do with the amount of time humans are capable of working.

Experts suggests that while the average American employee 'works' for 8.8 hours a day, they are productive significantly less.

Experts argue humans are only truly capable of 2 to 3 hours of productivity per day.

Inc’s article on productivity reminds readers that the 8-hour workday was originally a means to make professional life more humane for employees previously working 10-16 hour days. However, what once made sense as a reasonable corporate shift — enacted by Ford Motors in factories to increase productivity — is now radically outdated.

@ashp_cml The origins of the eight-hour work day are in decades of endless advocacy led by Chicago laborers prominent during the mid-1860s. Decades of organizing from Chicago’s workers convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to sign the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. #greenscreen #americansocialhistoryproject #ushistory #americanhistory #socialhistory #history #laborhistory #cuny #nyc #chicago #haymarketriot #laborstrike #unionstrong #protest #strike #riot #rally #chicagohistory #publichistory #workers ♬ original sound - ASHP

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So, despite the average employee working over 8 hours a day a day, they’re only truly “productive” for about 2 hours. It’s what the human brain is capable of — grinding out work tasks, responsibilities, and obligations within that time frame, only to engage in “non-productive” tasks for the remainder of their day.

Don’t trust the research? How much time do you spend at work scrolling on your phone, wandering aimlessly through your inbox, making a new pot of coffee, or chatting with co-workers? Maybe you’re pushing through out of necessity in an intense job, or maybe you’re lying to yourself.


Either way, 8-hour workdays don’t make sense — they’re only burning out employees and distracting from a work-life balance ideal that everyone is inherently yearning for.

Coupled with uncomfortable in-office mandates or unfulfilling work, 40-hour work weeks don’t make sense for companies or employees.

Not only are these hours of “unproductivity” a waste of company time, but they’re also contributing to employee discomfort, unfulfillment, and dissatisfaction in intense ways. Only around 12% of employees are truly productive for their entire workday — meaning just under 90% are “faking” productivity or filling their time with wasteful activities that could actually boost their work-life balance or overall well-being.

@drew_schuler If you work 40 hours a week you probably only have 67 hours of free time to do what you actually want #workweek #9to5life #employee #worklife ♬ original sound - Drew’s Views

While some commenters argued this is not representative of their job or work culture, others wholeheartedly agreed. So, of course — each situation is unique, especially given how differently people navigate the corporate world after graduation or upon re-entering the workforce.


However, it is indicative of a larger discussion that’s ever-present in today’s world — change is needed. Not just for work schedules, but in the corporate world in general.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.