The top 10 most productive countries in 2023

Viesturs Abelis 11.01.2024
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  • Cameroon was the most productive country in the world for the 2nd year in a row, with an average productivity of 98.22%. Up from 94.1% in 2022.
  • Central and South American nations continue to dominate the productivity rankings, despite Puerto Rico falling out of the top 10 to #14. 
  • For the second year in a row, the least productive country in the world is Iran, with an average productivity of 29%. This is down from 38.6% in 2022. 
  • Ukraine is showing incredible resilience in face of war with an average productivity of 84.5%. This is up from 76% in 2022. It’s now the 9th most productive country in Europe, up from 17th.

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Earth has made another full revolution around the sun, which means we can wave goodbye to 2023 and dig into the data about who were the top 10 most and least productive countries. 

2023 saw several workspace trends that may have affected our productivity and how we work: 

  • The return-to-office movement picked up where it left off in 2022, with more and more companies requiring employees to work in person at least a couple of days a week. 
  • Artificial intelligence tools became ubiquitous and became a key part of many people’s workflows.
  • The viral productivity trends that emerged continued to push against hustle culture. If 2022 was all about Quiet quitting, then 2023 saw Bare minimum Mondays, Snail-girl era, and napping at work, which focused on the importance of good mental health and work-life balance. 

In parallel, the world was battered by ongoing geopolitical turmoil in Europe and the Middle East, as well as went through record inflation and high-profile layoffs, which affected our focus, motivation, and productivity at work. 

What impact did all of these events have on the world’s productivity rankings? Get ready to find out. But before we dive in, let’s take a moment to understand how we gathered the data.

How we collected the data

In 2023, DeskTime was used by over 500,000 users from all over the world. To ensure accurate and comprehensive results, our sample includes countries with at least 100 users and at least 40 hours of tracked data per user per year, on average.

Fun fact: if we didn’t exclude smaller user counts, then Papua New Guinea would rank as the most productive country in the world, thanks to the efforts of a handful of people.

Russia and Belarus remain excluded from the rankings this year – as of March 9, 2022, DeskTime is no longer available in these countries.

The final sample consisted of 89 countries. All our studies are fully anonymous.

What is “productivity” at DeskTime?

At DeskTime, productivity is defined as time spent on productive websites, programs, and apps – meaning, the time doing work-related things – divided by the total time spent at the computer, and then expressed as a percentage.

The most productive countries in the world, 2023

Here’s a list of countries with the highest productivity in 2023, compared to 2022:

1Cameroon (98.2%)Cameroon (94.1%)
2Albania (96.4%)Nicaragua (93.9%)
3Guatemala (95.2%)Guatemala (93.8%)
4Nicaragua (94.8%)Uruguay (93.1%)
5Uruguay (92.9%)Morocco (92.6%)
6El Salvador (92.7%)El Salvador (92.4%)
7Morocco (92.6%)Puerto Rico (92.3%)
8Uganda (92.5%)Spain (89.8%)
9Philippines (89.3%)Uganda (89.8%)
10Cyprus (88.9%)Albania (89.6%)
Most productive countries in the world, 2023

In 2023, the Central African country Cameroon maintained its title as the most productive country in the world boasting an impressive 98.2% average productivity – up by nearly 4% compared to last year. Similarly, Guatemala increased its productivity by 1.4%, which allowed it to maintain its position as the third most productive country. 

The only new entrant into the top 3 is Europe’s Albania, displacing Nicaragua and earning second place by boosting its productivity by nearly 7%. 

In 2023, the US moved up two positions and was the 13th most productive country in the world with an average productivity of 88%. 

Falling just outside of the top 10 are Spain and Puerto Rico, replaced in 2023 by Cyprus and the Philippines. The latter puts the South-east Asian region on the productivity map, which continues to be dominated by the Americas and Africa. 

That said, Malta and Spain earned the 11th and 12th spots respectively, suggesting Europe is knocking on the top 10’s door and may change the dynamics in coming years. 

# in Europe# globally2023
12Albania (96.4%)
210Cyprus (88.9%)
311Malta (88.8%)
412Spain (88.1%)
516Netherlands (87.8%)
929Ukraine (84.5%)
1135United Kingdom (82.9%)
Productivity of European countries, 2023

Despite on-going war, Ukraine continues to improve its productivity – a testament to the country’s resilient people. In 2023, they increased their productivity by 8.5% and ranked as the 9th (+8) most productive country in Europe and 30th (+29) globally.

The least productive countries in the world, 2023

Now, let’s take a look at the least productive countries from last year:

1Iran (29%)Iran (38.6%)
2Mongolia (38.2%)Mongolia (41.9%)
3Cambodia (48.5%)Nigeria (47.7%)
4Nepal (56.3%)Nepal (55.8%)
5Slovenia (59.5%)Cambodia (56.4%)
6Vietnam (61.4%)Dominican Republic (57.4%)
7New Zealand (61.5%)Kenya (58.1%)
8Moldova (61.6%)Vietnam (58.4%)
9Mauritius (63.6%)Austria (60.3%)
10Austria (64.2%)New Zealand (62.7%)
The least productive countries in the world, 2023

For the second year in a row, Iran is the least productive country in the world with an average productivity of 29%. It saw a whopping 9.6% drop in productivity compared to the year prior, making Iran the uncontested anti-record holder. 

It’s followed by Mongolia (38.2%) and Cambodia (48.5%), both of which also appeared in the previous rankings.

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The data suggests that overall productivity is increasing, which means that countries that fail to make significant positive progress are more at risk of making the list. For example, despite improving productivity by nearly 4%, Austria failed to make it out of the unproductivity rankings, only moving from 9th to 10th. 

Sri Lanka, France, and Switzerland have narrowly avoided the list, placing 11th-13th respectively.

Wrapping up

Despite the ups and downs of 2023, productivity is trending upward. 

According to DeskTime data, the most productive countries are growing more productive. And the least productive countries are also (generally) becoming more productive. Others are noticing it, too.

For the fourth year in a row, Central and South American nations made up the majority of the top 10 most productive countries. However, that may soon change unless they can maintain and improve on their stellar results since other countries are catching up.

Similarly, the bottom 10 is also seeing very few changes despite a generally positive trend. 

And with that – farewell to 2023, and bring it on 2024!

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