How productive are employees? Maybe not enough. (Photo: iStock)

Nearly half of American workers say they are feeling increasing pressure to be more productive at work.

Related: Focus on work-life balance will drive higher productivity

A survey of 1,200 full-time employees by Fellowes, the 100-year-old company known for workplace products, such as office furniture, shredders and air purifiers, finds that the average employee spends 44 hours a week at work but that only an average of 29 hours a week are “productive.”

Most workers also believe they have learned to be more productive as they have aged and gained more experience, although the generation that employees view as the most productive is Generation X, who are typically those in the middle of the age range at the office.

Employees identify talkative coworkers as the number one distraction on the job, followed by unnecessary meetings and technology malfunctions.

Bad equipment appears to be a serious concern for many; 59 percent believe updating technology could lead to major improvements in productivity. 

Related: Is caregiving the silent killer of workplace productivity?

Technological revolutions of the 1980s and 90s made American workers far more productive as paper, typewriters, file cabinets and fax machines were replaced by computers and email, Robert Gordon, the author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth, explained to the Atlantic in August.

But the significant technological gains of the past decade have not led to the same type of growth in productivity, Gordon argues. As much as the iPhone has transformed our lives, it may not have made us much better workers. 

“In much of the economy, daily practices of business methods are not being influenced by the recent innovations in terms of robots, smartphones, or the other things that have happened more recently,” he says.

The lack of a productivity game-changer helps explain why the U.S. economy appears to have settled into a period of steady but slow economic growth.

Related: What brain science can teach us about employee productivity 

If a technological change isn’t going to bring about the type of growth that corporate leaders yearn for, it may be workers out of whom bosses will seek to get additional productivity.