Professionals Increase Productivity, Not Hours
AlterNet has an unmissable story on why we need to go back to a 40 hour work week. The short, short version is that 150 years of research proves shorter work hours actually raise productivity and profits — and overtime destroys them.
And yet most managers and businesses are obsessed with their teams working more without stopping to consider that, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, it is hurting them.
Some interesting bits in the article explain why the overtime obsession doesn’t make sense:
…every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing.
By the eighth hour of the day, people’s best work is usually already behind them (typically turned in between hours 2 and 6). In Hour 9, as fatigue sets in, they’re only going to deliver a fraction of their usual capacity. And with every extra hour beyond that, the workers’ productivity level continues to drop, until at around 10 or 12 hours they hit full exhaustion.
The writer also poses the all-important question: why do we still do this?
And the answer is simple: some people think being busy, or even simply present, equals productivity. Silly. These people are covering for their lack of actual talent or holding on to a legacy mindset as to what “work” is. It’s not being busy, it’s achieving results. Period.
The truth is in the post-industrial age our creativity is what matters, and (sustainable) creative work only comes from a healthy mind and body.
Which also got me thinking, passionate professionals don’t just work longer. They create processes and use automation to decrease time spent on the work that’s not as enjoyable to focus on the things they love. This increases productivity, not hours.
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