Facebook. All your friends are there, it’s so much fun, and it costs US employers $28,000,000,000 in productivity-loss per year.

I recently ran into a competitive situation with my business, ConnectSolutions, where an organization was comparing our service costs against a competitor. However, the organization was not considering the fact that our solution increased productivity through ease-of-use and associated time-savings. After I developed a model that showed the potential productivity boost (it was millions of dollars based on the size of the organization and average cost-per-employee/per year), they understood the true costs of both services.

That productivity boost got me thinking about what else we all spend our time on during the course of a workday that might impact productivity. A quick search will tell you that Americans are spending, on average, 14 of their 74 minutes of online time on Facebook. Mobile time spent might be more significant, but I don’t have ready access to those distribution stats.

Using that astonishing statistic, let’s make a few assumptions as inputs into our model. First, I’ll assume that people are spending only 50% of their total Facebook usage during a given day during work hours. After all, we are hard working Americans…right?

**Time Spent On Facebook During Workday: 7 minutes**

Next up, how many of us are sitting in front of computers with internet access each workday? As a proxy, I’ll use the “knowledge worker” profile with an estimate of 30% of us American workers fall into.

**Total Number of Internet-Connected Workers: 48,000,000 (30% of roughly 160M workers)**

Ok, now let’s put these together to show how much time collectively we are spending on Facebook:

**48,000,000 worker * 7 minutes per day = 336,000,000 minutes per workday**

Yikes, that’s a big number. But how can we translate that into cost-per-employee? Based on an average salary guestimate of $50,000 and 2000 work hours per year, we can assume a per-minute cost-per-employee of around $0.40/minute. If we take that cost-per-minute and apply it to time employees are spending on Facebook, we get a big number…

**Daily Productivity Cost due to Facebook Browsing: $140,000,000**

If we apply that to annual cost, we end up with a really scary number:

**Annual US Employer Cost due to Facebook Browsing: $28,000,000,000**

Before thousands of IT organizations across the US race to block the facebook.com domain on their firewalls, it’s worth noting this is just a fun exercise and people’s actual usage patterns will vary widely. We can also assume that there are some knowledge workers who aren’t using Facebook, or at least at work…

For those of you who also suffer from Twitter or HackerNews addictions, try your own model but avoid sharing the results with your employer!

*Edit: thanks to a reader for pointing out my exuberant use of an extra zero in my initial post…corrected…and still a very large number 😉*

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