New study asks workers what is causing Britain’s stunted productivity growth, said to be the worst since the 18th Century

A new report released today, which will shock HR professionals, has discovered that a quarter of workers claim they are unproductive for up to two hours every day, equating to a staggering 40 million* hours of lost productivity across the UK every week. The average UK office worker has lost an extra 30 minutes a day, according to the same study conducted last year by Fellowes.

The UK’s decade of stunted productivity growth was recently identified by the Bank of England as being the worst since the 18th Century. Office product specialists, Fellowes, asked 1,250 UK office workers to find out what they thought was causing Britain’s productivity lull.

Undervalued staff

The study, which polled people from various industries including finance, legal marketing and IT, found that a huge 40% of people felt their work wasn’t valued by their bosses. Women feel less valued (43%) than men (36%).

Poor management & unproductive bosses

A significant 60% of those polled felt like their companies had serious productivity problems, with 40% stating that their employers weren’t doing enough to tackle output issues. Interestingly, 40% of workers also said they were more productive than their bosses.

Negative office environments

On top of the aforementioned issues, what will worry HR professions most is nearly 65% of people said their office environment had a negative impact on their health. And almost half (46%) claimed their employers didn’t care about their wellbeing. Around the same percentage (45%) said their companies don’t provide them with the right tools and equipment to be comfortable at their desks.

Biggest distractions

The biggest causes of distraction for respondents included:

  • Talking to colleagues (47%)
  • Emails (29%)
  • Mobile phones (24%)
  • Unwanted questions (21%)


Fellowes UK & Ireland Sales and Marketing Director, Darryl Brunt who conducted the study, said:

“The makeup of every workforce is different, but it is clear that employers need to do more to help get the best from their employees. To unlock people’s productivity, workers must not only have the right equipment, but they must feel valued and supported. By establishing smarter ways of working, employers can build an empowered workforce which best serves its customers.”

What do workers think would make them more productive?

When asked if a four-day working week would improve productivity, a staggering 65% agreed. Over two thirds (77%) of Generation Z (16-24-year-olds) claimed a four-day working week would make them more productive, hinting that businesses must address working hours for the next generation.

Almost all of respondents (95%) were in agreement that good office equipment would sufficiently improve output, as over one in three (36%) said they didn’t have access to the right equipment at least once every week (compared to one in five in 2017). A quarter of those asked said that fewer meetings would also improve output.





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.