Why working long hours doesn’t mean more productivity

Working long hours leads to physical and mental fatigue. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Working long hours leads to physical and mental fatigue. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I called Beatrice to plan a meeting in her office and she quickly asked me, “Can we meet at 6.30 a.m?

I thought she was pulling a prank on me but when I arrived at 10.00 a.m, my requested time, I learnt she had already been in office for close to five hours.

“Normally I am here before 6 a.m and sometimes I don’t leave until 7 p.m,” She told me with some sense of pride.

I asked her whether it was really necessary to work all those hours and whether she gets enough time to relax and be with family.

Her response mirrored what most of us learn at school and from many entrepreneurs and managers; that to successfully manage a business, especially at the startup and growth phases, one must work long hours.

Like Beatrice, most entrepreneurs and managers spend several hours working in the office and off the office, courtesy of mobile technology that enables us to work anytime and virtually from anywhere including on bed.

Carrying work home, working while driving, eating, sleeping and in social meetings using gadgets such as mobile phones, iPads and laptops has become norm for busy people.

But does it add value or increase productivity? The answer is emphatically no. Several studies have proven that working more hours does not in fact translate to more productivity. On the contrary most busy people are the least productive.

A recent research by Stanford has confirmed that being workaholic is vanity. According to the study working more than 50 hours per week makes one less productive. In fact adding five hours more per week starts undoing the gains already achieved. So someone who works 70 hours in a week is practically worse off than the one who works 55 hours.

Contrary to what many believe working long hours is a virtue of industrious. It is a sign of poor management, lack of priorities, systems and orderliness both in workplace and life.

Generally, any worker or manager can accomplish more than enough by working say between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. This is on condition that they work on important things and are well organised. In other words 8 hours per day for five or six days is enough to accomplish all your goals whether you are employed or in own business.

Working long hours leads to physical and mental fatigue that reduces creativity and efficiency in performing tasks. When an executive works all the time without time to rest and recharge creativity and efficiency is lost resulting in slow accomplishment of task, poor problem solving skills and many errors of judgment on important aspects of business.

Most organisations are making it mandatory for employees to take regualar breaks, offs and leaves as well as reducing daily working hours even if the employees are not demanding overtime payment. They know it is good for both the employee and the organisation.