“While technology certainly helps in streamlining processes, it’s also part of the reason why work hours have skyrocketed! In this post, we talk about long hours and how they can affect productivity.
A Global Issue
Aussies are among the hardest-worked citizens in the Western world. Even with four weeks annual leave, we bear an average workload of 1,885 hours a year. But we’re not the only ones working long hours. According to a Gallup Poll, the average American works approximately 2,370 hours a year. Many Asian countries also have a reputation for working long hours; about 22% of Japanese employees work more than 49 hours a week, and a whopping 35% of South Koreans working more than 49 hours a week. Working long hours isn’t just limited to our borders but in other highly developed countries too, so, what is the appropriate hours to work?
Long Hours = Productivity?
Research suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overworking does not help productivity. In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, (Boston University’s Questrom School of Business), managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.
Considerable evidence shows that overwork is not beneficial — it hurts us and the organisations we work for. Numerous studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and her colleagues have found that overworking and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems; including impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease. Those are bad enough on their own. But they’re also bad for a business’s bottom line, showing up as absenteeism, poor work quality and high employee turnover.
What to do as a manager
It’s no secret that overworking can have a negative effect on a person’s productivity. Persistent long hours are contributing to higher levels of depression and anxiety. To become more productive, there needs to be a focus on work/life balance, as an employee, it all comes down to time management.
Tips to increase productivity
Making the most of your time is critical, manage it and use it well. There are two ways to increase your output - either put in more hours or work smarter. Surely you’re like us, the best way is to work smarter. Being more productive at work shouldn’t be hard, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time.
- Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks. Research suggests that only around 17% of people are able to accurately estimate what they’ve been doing with their time. A tool like Manic time can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and app .
- Take a break. What? Someone is actually telling you to take break? Did you know that breaks can actually improve concentration? Research has proven that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.
- Minimise distractions. This may mean setting office hours/ keeping your door closed/earphones in during scheduled task without interruption/ checking emails only at certain times of the day etc.
If you feel the need to increase your productivity at work, resist the temptation to put in longer hours or ask others to work longer hours too. Instead, take a step back, and re-evaluate the ways you can utilise time more efficiently.