There is no myth that is as destructive than the idea that working long hours equals higher productivity. The effects that this can have on an individual, a team or a business hinder the progress of all involved. The 40 hour working week was accepted as the optimum time for people to work all the way till the end of the 60’s. Since then, it has become part of modern culture that if you don’t tie yourself to your desk for 12 hours a day, you aren’t working hard enough.
A relatively new phenomena which was born out of the Silicon Valley model of working from the 1970’s; long hours has now become the “norm” in many businesses. The interesting thing is that the culture of 24 hour a day coding or software development in Silicon Valley was done by a particular type of individual, who had a deep passion; an almost obsession for their work. It simply wasn’t the “norm”, and still isn’t.
What most people don’t realise is that there is 150 years of research that has gone into the 40 hour working week. Time and again it has been proven that the optimum time for people to work, whether that be labourers or knowledge workers, is 8 hours a day.
Still need convincing? Well here are 3 reasons you may want to take note of the amount of time you work.
It is less productive
One of the reasons most businesses ask team members to work longer, or at least “encourage” longer hours, is their belief it will increase productivity. Well, the mountains of research actually demonstrates that a knowledge worker only actually works at their optimum for 6 hours, allowing them 8 hours gives them time to deal with jobs such as emails, phone calls or meetings. Manual jobs are also most effectively done in an 8 hour day. On average the more people exceed these hours, the less productive they become. Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay, and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight, and I am pretty sure he did alright.
Humans are not computers
Through dealing with computers on a daily basis, we know that if we input certain things, we will then receive an output. What many businesses are guilty of is believing the same can be said of humans. So you hear if you just work this much more, you will give me this output. Well, unlike computers, humans are not running on unlimited energy sources, they have peaks and troughs throughout the day, and definitely need time to recharge those supplies. Would you ever treat a computer like a human?
It may just kill you
The single biggest reason that working long hours is destructive, is that it is extremely detrimental to your health. The heightened stress levels that come with the extra hours, and often lack of sleep have a direct impact on your health. The more your body works in stress mode the more it has to work; over extended periods of time, that will lead to medical problems. You need rest, and relaxation for your health. The fitter you are the more productive you will be, in those hours of the day you are at work.
So if you find yourself working extra hours over and over, just think to yourself is this really getting me where I want to be?
Would love to know you thoughts on how you deal with time, relax or do you find it difficult to switch off?