Americans spend an average of 47 hours a week at work (about 9.4 hours a day, if you want to get specific). And with technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to feel even more pressure to always be “on.”
Emails. Texts. Social media messages. They come through in the daytime, nighttime, and even, sometimes, during those precious few seconds when you’re about to sink into a hot tub and finally relax a bit. And it can be so annoying!
Still, most of us do muscle through it, going over and above and beyond to prove we can keep up and maybe even impress the people we work for, too. The problem is that eventually, this turns into working insane hours…and that’s a problem.
Putting in more hours doesn’t necessarily correlate to higher productivity. In fact, unrelenting work culture can actually negatively impact your health. Here’s how working less can benefit employees and employers alike.
Working Less Increases the Quality of Your Work
People might be working close to 50 hours a week, but most research shows the quality of work doesn’t necessarily improve as a result. Or, to simplify, you aren’t becoming any more productive just because you’re there until midnight!
One survey from Australia involving 6500 people age 40 and older revealed that productivity and performance were actually most optimal if people worked around 25 hours per week. Beyond that, cognitive function and performance decreased sharply in a direct parallel with the number of hours worked.
This makes sense. Working long hours can cause fatigue and stress, and both experiences make it harder for your brain to work at its best.
Working in excess of eight hours a day is not necessarily a reflection of an employee’s commitment, effort or ability. Is it really better if someone takes eight hours to complete the same task as someone who required only four? That kind of experience might be the result of poor time management or unclear job expectations.
There’s a growing body of evidence to support the idea that work expands to fill the time available for completion. So while a task might normally take four hours to complete, if you give yourself eight hours to complete it, you’ll like to fill that time by making the task more complex or not working as efficiently as you could.
Flexible working hours recognize the fact that not all workers flourish within a typical 40-hour workweek. This can help with retention, especially where high-quality employees are concerned, which reduces recruitment and training costs.
But there are benefits for you, too. Allowing workers to scale back their hours increases productivity, helps people feel valued and empowers them to use their time more effectively – essentially, you become a better worker.
Having more time and space to take care of your health, your family and your home without feeling pressured to work? That makes you happier and healthier, too.
What’s not to love about that?
A three day work week might feel like a massive shift, and it might even feel virtually unattainable to you right now. Think of it as a long-term goal, and find ways to reduce the hours you spend at work over time. It’ll have big benefits for your health and your productivity.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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