General

How much do we slow down during holidays? A Toggl analysis.

You always hear about those studies that have found that American workers log the most working hours per capita in the world. Or that Germany is the most hard-working nation in Europe.

Or that in Scandinavia, jobs are simply a way to make money for free time. We started wondering one day whether this is also reflected in Toggl users’ behaviour…

world-work-holidaySo we took a total of 3.5 million hours that were tracked with Toggl during 5 weeks between December 2012 and February 2013, and looked at them with the help of Google Analytics

We normalized the results to equal scales so that they’d be comparable and then put the data into charts to illustrate what came out. We will now share with you the fascinating stuff that was revealed with this about the real working (Toggling) habits around the world.

The most hardcore workers live in East Asia

We started with some overall comparisons of activity levels during holiday versus non-holiday seasons in North America, Europe and East Asia.

E vs A

The biggest slowdown for both North American and European users was Christmas when activity levels in North America dropped by 52% and in Europe by a whole 63%. East Asia’s peak slowdown came a bit later, during the New Year festivities, and was much lower, with a total drop of only 35%.

holiday

Looks like Christmas is not celebrated quite as widely in East Asia. We predicted the Chinese New Year (mid-February) to have a fairly strong effect on East Asia’s activity, so were surprised to find in fact the opposite with their 22% increase from original activity levels. Respect to all the hard-working East Asians!

Northern Europe: work hard, play hard?

Digging into a bit more detail, we split Europe to Southern and Northern, leaving North America on the graph for a baseline also.

SE vs NE

What a finding! Despite all the talk of siestas and three-hour lunches in Greece, Italy, Spain and the likes, Southern Europe’s Christmas slowdown of 53% tells a different story since it’s totally on a level with North America’s 52%.

holiday-work

The Scandinavians, though, fit their stereotype perfectly – they take their holidays very seriously with a whopping 72% drop in activity. This is a record for all the regions. Once the Northern Europeans return to work, though, they also beat all other regions with their 25% increase in activity by February. I guess they live by the work hard, play hard mantra?

East vs West

The average amount of paid holidays in Italy, France and Germany is 38 days (how nice!). Where does that stand in comparison to Eastern European countries who are also known to get quite a few paid days off?

WE vs EE

With a drop of only 45%, East Europeans seem to be the next hardest working area over Christmas after East Asians. Although, the drop rate in East Asia was only 8% then, so actually the two areas should probably not be mentioned in the same sentence.. 🙂

With their 66% drop in activity, West Europeans seem to have fully enjoyed their Christmas. During New Year celebrations, though, East and West Europe both level out to a 37% slowdown while North America returns to work much sooner, being only 18% less active than in Mid-December.

holiday-work-snow

By February, East Europeans are heavily back at work, with their eventual 19% increase in activity. West Europe resembles the South more here, with their mere 5% and 6% increases in activity rates in the beginning of 2013. I wonder if it’s the cold and the snow that’s driving all the Northerners back into their working habits so much faster..?

So, an overview

Drop per region

When we talk about taking time off during holidays, it seems that East Asia is the least interested in this with their maximum drop in activity at only 35% over New Year. All other regions in this study took the most time off during Christmas, Northern Europe’s activity levels dropping the most – by a whole 72%!

They bounced back the fastest as well, being 25% more active in February than they were in mid-December. North America ranks somewhere in the middle in their taking time off (max drop 52%) as well as getting back to work in February (peak increase 13%).

Of course in the end what matters is not how many hours you track, but the actual productivity of the work that you do during those hours. Which holidays do you take the most of? With Easter coming up, will we see major drops in activity on Good Friday?

Disclaimer: This analysis is not based on and does not try to be any serious academic work. It is purely speculative conclusions drawn from the statistics of Toggl usage.

By On March 15, 2013

  1. I’m just wondering how many people use Toggl to track their personal activities, not just for a job. I’m a one who use it for both parts of my life. It could impact the results a bit.

  2. Interesting read, but I agree with the other commenters: it would be better to see a year’s worth of data, and as a brazilian, to see data from other parts of the world. Maybe in part 2 for this post? 🙂

  3. I think it’s important to point out that this chart says a lot more about how important Christmas and New Year’s are to people from different regions than it does about how hard they work. I’d agree that a year’s worth of data would be more telling.

    And of course comparing how “hard-working” someone is based on whether they continue to work on a holiday isn’t as telling as how much actual work a person logs in a typical week or a complete year.

    Still, good fun and a good read!

  4. @Liron Please write to us to support(at)toggl(dot)com and describe your account e-mail and problem some more. Where are you attempting to log in? Toggl web, Desktop or mobile app? What kind of error message do you get?

  5. hi, I couldn’t find any other way to contact you – there is no help center.

    I can’t log in to my account after the update you made today. I tried to resent my password twice and still nothing. That’s disappointing since I do like your app.

    Please help,

    Liron

  6. I don’t know if I would agree with these results unless they portrayed the entire year. Mid-December until Mid-January most of the web development dies down since most retailers are finishing up from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I would be interested to see what this looked like from October through January when the surge of “Change this on my website before thanksgiving” rush begins. I think this chart points out a cycle but does not necessarily imply that the US is lazy. In order to have billable consulting work during this timeframe you have to have billable requests and during this time shown here it is very slow for consulting work in the US.

    So I don’t buy into these very slated results. I think a full year of stats might portray different picture. So there is the challenge!

  7. Hello and sorry, I think I have to correct you a little.

    I’m from germany and we have in this country an amount of 24 [ especially the creative ones! ] to 30 paid holidays, not 38 days. I don’t even know a company how will give more than 30 days here in germany.
    But you’re absolutly right when it comes to france. They got an average of 37,5 days a year of paid holidays. Italy is somewhere in between with 33 days.

    Cheers, André