New Data Shows How American Workday is Getting Longer


Are workday hours changing? How does that affect productivity?

According to a survey by Prodoscore Research Council, they are. Prodoscore’s data found that the average workday went from 8:24 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. in 2020 to 7:46 a.m. until 6:12 p.m. in 2021.


Has the business’s response to the pandemic changed not only where we work, but how we work? Are people working longer hours? Are they working weekends?

“I was not surprised by that statistic (the workday getting longer),” said Scott Martineau, cofounder of KEAP (CRM, Sales and Marketing leader for small businesses). “But there are a lot of advantages to working from home, whether it’s a full time or hybrid model.” 

American Workday Getting Longer

According to the survey, technology, the reality of a distributed workforce, and the younger cohorts’ push for a more flexible work style are calling into question the viability of the traditional five-day workweek.

A flexible approach may help alleviate the issue of burnout. Burnout is a concern as work-from-home and work-from-anywhere employees extend their workday hours.

“With employees working longer into the day and through the weekend, managing and mitigating burnout needs to be part of that evaluation,” said Crisantos Hajibrahim, Chief Product Evangelist, Prodoscore. “In our new work environment, it’s necessary to have corporate initiatives that focus on employee well-being and digital health planning.”

Martineau said that small business owners are accustomed to the challenges of balancing work and personal life. Working from home was a new reality for many.

“Having to work from home forced the issue of creating a work and life balance,” he said. “If you’re using the right (technological) tools, you can control and design the schedule of your day.”

Did Productivity Increase or Decrease?

Comparing 2020 vs. 2019 year-over-year shows greater productivity in every single month.

Productivity increased a whopping 197% between January 2019 and January 2020. March showed the widest disparity in productivity scores, with 2020 registering a 207.6% increase over 2019.

Employee productivity in 2020 aligned with the pandemic – when COVID surged, productivity dipped. Productivity slipped almost 2.5% in April compared to March when employees were first working from home.

Thanksgiving, Who Knew?

There was a 36% decline in productivity the week of Thanksgiving vs. the week and month before and after. This isn’t unique to the pandemic; the same decline occurred in both 2019 and 2020.

Communication Trends

According to the survey, use of technological tools is a huge part of the day, with messaging, chat, voice and video making up more than 80% of the workday. Email is no longer the most popular communication tool, according to respondents. The amount of time spent on voice, video and chat/message increased 100% in 2020 compared to 2019.

The surge in technological tools can be overwhelming, Martineau said. “How does a business owner know what would work best?

“There are many channels and software tools, and the number of choices can be overwhelming,” Martineau said. He advised small business owners to take a page from the KEAP playbook.

“When we (KEAP) start to work with a new customer, we develop what we call a playbook,” he said. “We look at everything, such as leads and clients, and develop a strategy.”

“Before you purchase software tools, you (business owner) need to be clear on objectives and strategies,” Martineau added. “You need to find tools that are specific to that strategy.”

“You might see a number of things you like, but don’t be afraid to think, not now,” he said. “Pick your top three.” 

Number of Daily Meetings Increased

The number of daily meetings increased by 26%, but the time spent in meetings decreased. How did that happen?

Meetings increased from 3.36 per day in 2019 to 4.24 per day in 2020. Employees spent an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes in meetings each day.

But in 2019, employees spent an average of 3 hours and 7 minutes in meetings. Are meetings more efficient? How does the data translate?

“It further demonstrates the imperative for businesses to be able to accurately measure productivity to support the distributed workforce,” said Haijibrahim. “As we navigate the changes in our work environment, productivity intelligence software becomes even more critical, allowing business leaders to make informed, data-driven decisions to help employees achieve their highest levels of performance.”

Martineau said that going forward, business will further adapt to handle different work situations. For example, in a hybrid business model, some employees are working from home, others are in the brick-and-mortar location, working as a group.

How can everyone have face-to-face time?

“There are many opportunities with technology,” Martineau said. He likes Loom, a program which allows an individual to create short videos that can be shared and are open to comment. “There are many choices as to levels of engagement – and it’s hard for a business to make progress if you can’t communicate.”

About the Survey

Prodoscore Research Council (PRC) evaluated more than 900,000 data points from nearly 7,000 employees. For more details about the report’s findings, visit the Prodoscore Research Council website.

Image: Depositphotos

Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.