A survey has found that workers are wasting about a fifth of their time on the job each week at a cost of about $19 billion a year to the economy.
Employees questioned in the Productivity Pulse Survey carried out by audit firm Ernst & Young estimated that 15% of their time at work is wasted, and the biggest culprit was dealing with emails.
Others time-wasters were unnecessary meetings, technology waiting time and process waiting time.
Employers estimated that 21% of the work done each day by staff was of no value to their company.
Ernst & Young partner Braden Dickson says businesses can do much to reverse those figures.
"Many of the things that would make a difference actually do lie within the control of an individual workplace; with the workers, the management and the owners."
Employers and Manufacturers Association spokesperson David Lowe says a little discipline in the workplace can stem email volumes and allow people to spend time on their job.
Mr Lowe says suggestions for improvement should come from the workers themselves.
CTU secretary Peter Conway says the wasted work time is mostly due to disorganisation in businesses, rather than because people are not working hard enough.
"This is about how well work is organised and that's a very big part of productivity, can you organise effectively in terms of the tasks that people do and the lines of communication and getting that right can make a big difference to productivity".
The survey questioned 1220 people in March and has a margin of error of 2.8%.