Office gossip and banter is costing employers £43bn a year, research from More Than Business revealed.
The small business insurer found more than 18 million working hours a day are lost when employees discuss the previous evening’s premiership game or the latest reality TV show eviction.
But the company pointed out that although chats by the water-cooler may be costly, they are basically good for business.
Mike Bowman, head of More Than Business, said: “On the face of it, £43bn a year is clearly a large amount, but in reality a bit of office banter is hugely important for business.
“Not only is it essential for staff morale and keeping informed on social affairs, but it also helps office workers solve any problems they may have in their job and generate new ideas.
“While excessive chit-chat is certainly not encouraged, it is clear that a happy office is a productive one, with 56% of UK office workers claiming they feel happy when there is a buzz in the office.”
The average UK office employee was found to spend more than three hours a week gossiping and 84% of the UK population socialise with workmates.
About 6% get together with work buddies a few times a week and one in five said they had benefited from their support and help in getting through momentous life-changing events, such as divorce and family bereavement.
Bowman continued: “People often moan about the office environment and politics, but it appears that we value and invest almost as much of our time in our work colleagues and relationships as we do our family – be it asking for advice, networking or just letting off steam.
“In some cases, the line between work and home life has even merged, with 8% of the UK population finding love in the workplace, which is more than two million individuals nationwide.”