Study: 25 Billion Work Hours Lost to Poor Collaboration Every Year

12% of time is being saved thanks to AI, although many still aren't harnessing the technology on a regular basis.

It may seem like an unfathomably large figure, but Fortune 500 companies are wasting 25 billion working hours each year due to ineffective collaboration.

That’s according to a new study of workers and executives at those incorporations, which also estimates that less than a quarter of their teams’ work is spent on mission-critical work.

The effect of artificial intelligence tools on productivity was also a subject of the report, with only half of the respondents feeding back that they use AI on a weekly basis.

Teamwork Doesn’t Always Make the Dream Work

The State of Teams report carried out by global collaborative software company Atlassian surveyed 5,000 knowledge workers and 100 executives at Fortune 500 companies, with questions focused on team collaboration.

It found that respondents generally agreed that they are busier than ever but are accomplishing less. 93 of the 100 executives concurred that their teams could deliver similar outcomes in half the time if they collaborated more effectively.

Surfshark logo🔎 Want to browse the web privately? 🌎 Or appear as if you're in another country?
Get a huge 86% off Surfshark with this special offer.See deal button

Those same executives estimated that only 24% of their teams are doing mission-critical work. With that eye-catching figure, wasted work hours totted up to 25 billion due to ineffective collaboration between teams.

Wasted Time

The study probed further into the wasted work hours, asking the knowledge workers why they think their teams work inefficiently. They answered:

  • 65% – Responding quickly to messages instead of progressing top priorities
  • 64% – Pulled in too many directions
  • 56% – Teams at company work in different ways
  • 55% – Find it hard to track down required information
  • 50% – Spending more time in unnecessary meetings than progressing high-priority work
  • 50% – More than one team working on the same project

With another recent study suggesting that eligible employees currently spend 2.2 days per week working remotely, these numbers show the paramount importance for businesses to concentrate on getting remote collaboration right.

AI Is Effective But Underused

The study also shined a spotlight on the use of AI as a means to be more productive.

It reports that executives using AI have 12% more time to focus on their business priorities and 19% more time to create work with their teams. Teams who use AI on a regular basis will be 1.8 times more likely to have goal clarity and more than two times more able to “make knowledge easy to find.”

However, only 50% of the workers and executives who participated in the survey said that they used AI on a weekly basis for work. That’s despite the majority (79% of executives and 63% of workers) agreeing that AI is important, but that they don’t really know how to use it effectively in their daily work.

Working on the Right Things

To complement its research, Atlassian set out areas that businesses should focus on for more effective collaboration.

“Innovative teams prioritize the highest-impact work over short-term performative goals. They make it a point to ask themselves, ‘When we look back in a year, or at the end of the quarter, will we have done work that advanced mission-critical goals?'” – Atlassian State of Teams 2024

To ensure teams are working on the right things, the company suggests setting clear goals, making goals visible to everyone, and building rituals that clarify priorities.

To progress goals, it says, business leaders should make calendars reflect priorities, run more meaningful meetings, and share updates through videos rather than meetings.

While using AI and obsessing over the quality of documentation will help to make knowledge easier to find in the organization.

Did you find this article helpful? Click on one of the following buttons
We're so happy you liked! Get more delivered to your inbox just like it.

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at

Written by:
Now a freelance writer, Adam is a journalist with over 10 years experience – getting his start at UK consumer publication Which?, before working across titles such as TechRadar, Tom's Guide and What Hi-Fi with Future Plc. From VPNs and antivirus software to cricket and film, investigations and research to reviews and how-to guides; Adam brings a vast array of experience and interests to his writing.
Explore More See all news
Back to top
close Building a Website? We've tested and rated Wix as the best website builder you can choose – try it yourself for free Try Wix today