Despite accounting for 21.9% of the UK’s economic output, London is home to some of the least productive workers in the UK, with employees in this region achieving only 22 out of a possible 50 in the Canada Life Group Insurance Productivity Index.

One in seven Londoners (14%) admit to spending between 1 and 2 hours per day on non-work related websites during working hours, compared to 11% nationally.

Meanwhile, one in ten (10%) workers in London can only concentrate on a task for less than 30 minutes before getting bored or distracted.

Canada Life Group Productivity Index
Employee productivity by region


Productivity score (out of 50)

South West




South East


West Midlands


East Anglia


East Midlands






North West


North East








Online distractions are also a huge drain on Londoners’ productivity. Almost two thirds (62%) of workers in London say that online distractions have negatively affected their concentration, versus 47% nationally. One in seven respondents in London (14%) say online distractions damage their concentration all the time (vs. 8% – UK).

Emails are similarly counterproductive, with 78% of respondents in London saying this has had a negative effect on their output at work compared to 64% nationally. As a result, a quarter of workers in London are unsatisfied with the amount of work they achieve each day and 4% admit they hardly get anything done and wish they were more motivated.

Workplace stress and personal problems a barrier to productivity

Another significant barrier to productivity in London is workplace stress. Three quarters (75%) of workers in London say stress caused directly by their job has prevented them from being able to concentrate. Only 22% say that this has never been a problem, compared to 27% nationally.

At least 61% of Londoners find that their productivity is negatively affected by personal problems at least some of the time, with 4% admitting it is a constant problem.

Almost two thirds (65%) of Londoners pointed to a higher salary as a solution to improving their productivity at work, even though a fatter pay cheque may not always resolve problems associated with personal issues and stress.

What would improve your productivity at work?



A higher salary



Flexible working hours



Working from home



A four day week with longer hours



A reduced workload



Better benefit provision




Other solutions for Londoners, however, are more aligned to improving workplace stress. Employees in London are more likely than the rest of the country to say there would be a positive effect on productivity if they were offered flexible working hours, with almost half (47%) agreeing with this compared to a 36% UK average.

Working from home also ranks highly in the list of aids to Londoners’ productivity (33% compared to 28% nationally), suggesting longer commuting times may take their toll. One in seven (14%) workers in London say better benefit provision would make them more productive in the workplace.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group comments: “London is often perceived as the main hub of business and economic activity in the UK, but the results of the Index suggest employees in London are too beaten down by workplace stress to be productive. The strain of a long commute and a considerable desire among London employees to be able to work from home suggests employers in this region need to be aware of the negative effects of inflexible working. Allowing staff to work from home when appropriate could be a great help in reducing counterproductive stress.

“However, certain issues are not always so easy to fix, and employees should never be too embarrassed to admit that stress or personal problems are having a negative effect on their work. Engaging with an Employee Assistance Programme – such as those provided alongside most group protection products – can help to resolve these issues and improve both workplace happiness and productivity.”