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Could You Boost Productivity By Cutting Staff Hours?

The harder you work the tireder you get. So, logically, long hours regimes are the enemy of productivity. Is it time to trim the working day of your employees?

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The harder you work the tireder you get. So, logically, long hours regimes are the enemy of productivity. Is it time to trim the working day of your employees?

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Could You Boost Productivity By Cutting Staff Hours?

The harder you work the tireder you get. So, logically, long hours regimes are the enemy of productivity. Is it time to trim the working day of your employees?

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After starting my first business straight out of university, I was thrown head-first into the rat race and soon found myself drowning in it.

It took a drastic lifestyle change for me to find a healthy, sustainable work/life balance (namely, moving my family to Costa Rica), and now armed with that retrospective knowledge, the approach I take to not just running my company, AVirtual, but living my life, is completely different.

At our most recent monthly social, one of my PAs came up to me and said "Do you know how lucky your clients have it?" When I asked her why, she replied, "Well, I only get paid for every second I’m working. When I get up and go to the toilet or get a cup of coffee, I press pause on my timer. In other jobs, I used to get paid for all of that time."

Surprisingly, it was said without any resentment.

In fact, almost all of my employees seem to be happy about their productivity, and feel satisfied with the work they achieve in their recorded working hours. They work when they want to and get paid for what they do, saving them boredom and my clients' money.

Cheryl Conner wrote in Forbes magazine last year that, "Employees are spending longer periods than ever before 'wasting time'", adding that "the challenge of wasted workplace time is even worse than before".

office golf

Getting paid just to be there?

The statistics to back it up are overwhelming with 24 per cent of people in a CareerBuilder survey admitting to spending at least an hour a day on non-work related tasks, with social media (no surprises there!) leading the way as one of the most consistent distractors.

So is there a good argument to keeping tabs on all employees’ productivity? I probably wouldn’t want to go that far. It only works so well for my employees because they are working part-time, flexibly and from home.

They might be having their working rate monitored, but really they have complete freedom and my trust. They choose when the timer starts and it’s a compromise that they’re willing to take. In a normal office environment that kind of tracking would be too stringent and would create a restrictive and pressurized atmosphere.

Maybe the best solution, then, is to have more part-time workers or flexible working days. Last year, Filimundus, an app developer based in Stockholm introduced the six-hour working day with minimal meetings, social media banned and distractions eliminated.

Linus Feldt, the company’s CEO said in an interview: "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable."

Would people be willing to get paid less for fewer working hours? Probably not. But I bet most companies and CEOs would be willing to pay the same salaries for a higher productivity level - which they will almost certainly get if employees are less exhausted and bored.

With shorter office hours, people leave work with enough energy to enjoy spending time with their families, to exercise, to learn and most importantly, to relax and recharge.

fitness

Less time in the office means more time recharging

A frightening recent study published in Science Alert reported that individuals working 55 hours or more per week had a 33 per cent greater risk of stroke and a 13 per cent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. In some cases, that might be due to an under-active heart, but burning out is just as – if not more dangerous.

Companies all over the world promote wellness programmes based on the idea that your quality of health affects your work, but ignore the fact that the reverse can also be true – and be detrimental. It shouldn't be about packing as much into your day as possible so that you pass out as soon as you hit your pillow, but about using your time to unwind and doing the things you love.

I believe that most people like working and feeling proud of their work. When employees sit around on social media and waste hours they feel bored, demotivated and guilty.

We must stop micromanaging our employees: being constantly on their case and treating them like children does not help. ‘Letting go’ will give them more freedom, autonomy and the chance to be responsible, grow and thrive.

Ultimately, companies are the ones who have to 'let go', and sometimes we will get burnt, but we can’t let the minority of dishonest employees influence overarching decisions. It’s pretty obvious to me: happier employees lead to better results.

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Could You Boost Productivity By Cutting Staff Hours?

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