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Self-Employed Complete 20 More Working Days of Productive Work Than Employed Per Annum

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On average, Brits are ‘productively working’ for 6 hours and 6 minutes during a working day, new research has revealed.

The study, conducted by The Doers – a brand marketing consultancy powered by freelancers – surveyed 1,000 UK respondents to find how many productive hours workers complete during the working day. The results include analysis on how working location impacts the results, city and industry splits, and the difference between employees and freelancers.

The findings revealed that, on average, people are ‘productively working’ for 6.1 hours during a working day. The most common answer was 7 hours, but a quarter admitted that they are productive for 4 hours or less each working day. Interestingly, it was coworking spaces where people were the most productive (6.9 hours), compared to 6.4 hours in the office and 5.8 hours whilst working from home.

Karen Tait, founder of The Residence Coworking gave some additional insight into these findings: ‘People come to our centres looking to remove the distractions from home – the doorbell can ring, there’s laundry to be done, and everything is in your eyeline. So, it’s not a surprise to me that coworking spaces come out on top for productivity! As well as an alternative to working from home, we also have office workers who use us flexibly to escape the many unnecessary office meetings and office politics.

‘Coworking spaces also offer a variety of industry – a chance to meet other businesses and other people on their A-game, and the opportunity to learn from how other people have been successful (outside of the bubble of your own industry) – and this can also do wonders for productivity.’

Ordered from most productive city to least productive city, the results discovered the following:

  1. Newcastle – 6.9 hours
  2. Leeds – 6.8 hours
  3. London – 6.4 hours
  4. Liverpool – 6.3 hours
  5. Edinburgh – 6.2 hours
  6. Norwich – 6.2 hours
  7. Birmingham – 6.1 hours
  8. Nottingham – 6.0 hours
  9. Glasgow – 5.9 hours
  10. Bristol – 5.9 hours
  11. Cardiff – 5.8 hours
  12. Sheffield – 5.8 hours
  13. Southampton – 5.8 hours
  14. Belfast – 5.7 hours
  15. Manchester – 5 hours

Laura West, co-founder of The Doers, added: ‘During the pandemic, more brands turned to freelancers in a bid to create fast and effective marketing campaigns. There are many benefits for choosing freelancers over an agency – a few examples include getting direct access to senior talent, lowered costs, improved output, among many others. We wanted to see if increased productivity was also a factor, so with this in mind we surveyed 1,000 UK respondents to delve further into the topic.

‘Our research discovered that, on average, the self-employed are productive for 6.4 hours (6 hours and 24 minutes) of a working day. This figure is 36 minutes more than those that are employed; claiming 5.8 hours (5 hours and 48 minutes). Considering there are 251 working days in 2022, the self-employed are clocking an additional 150.6 hours of productive work each year compared to their employed counterparts; equivalent to around 20 working days (or around a month of a standard Monday to Friday, 9-5 role). If nothing else, these stats should encourage businesses to lean on the amazing freelance talent that we have in the UK.’

When it came to discussing successful tactics and tools which helped people increase their productivity, regular breaks, to-do lists, and playing background music were the most common, followed by working in silence and thorough time planning. ‘Eating the frog’ – a technique where you complete your most important or hardest task first – also featured, along with regular exercise, working flexible hours (to plan tasks during optimal productivity hours), eating nutritious snacks, playing background noise, having a strict sleep routine, and disabling notifications on devices.

Jess Sims, co-founder of The Doers, shared: ‘I’m far more productive in the evening than I am in the mornings. I have an energy lull almost every day mid-afternoon. And I’ve always been that way. Working for myself meant I had the flexibility to create a structure that worked for my productivity schedule.

‘One of the biggest learnings I have made so far, is that eliminating water cooler moments, pointless meetings and periodically closing emails/Slack/social notifications etc, means that I can get the bulk of my work done in 4-hour work days. If you think about your time in an office structure (if you’ve worked in that environment), and count the time you spend making coffee, chatting to colleagues, sat in meetings that seem utterly pointless, endless catch ups vs the amount of time you spend actually doing your job, I bet you’ll land on roughly the same time frame.

‘Working smartly and efficiently with my time opens up more opportunities to work on growing The Doers, networking, learning, taking time for myself, resting, travelling and ultimately creating the best work-life balance I’ve ever had.’

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