Staying Late is Toxic: Being in an Office Doesn’t Equate to Working

Forcing employees to work longer hours in an office doesn't benefit anyone.

I’m in an industry where working late is commonplace. Not for me. Not anymore at least. But marketing agencies are busy places with lots of clients, fast moving parts and deadlines.

The result is, you might argue, natural. People stay later, work longer and try harder to make sure things get done and on time.

This isn’t unique to marketing. In fact I work with all sorts of organisations who are fairly open about the long hours their teams pull. Surprisingly few of the companies I work with offer any sort of remote working to their employees. And lots of people I know personally and professionally tell of late nights in the office all too frequently.

The odd late night is essential. But you know what isn’t?

Frowning on your staff for “only” turning up on time and for leaving on time.

How is it ok to contract someone to given hours but to really expect 5 or more additional “free” hours per week.

People have lives. Real lives. They have families, friends, commitments to their health, a need for down time, hobbies.

Most people don’t live to work.

But Long Hours Isn’t Just a Problem for your Employees…

It’s a problem for you too.

Why would you assume that sitting in front of a computer in an office equates to being productive.

A study suggests that in a standard working day, employees are productive for just 2 hours and 23 minutes.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

I’ve spent a long time working out my productivity patterns. I’ve figured it out (finally). I’m at my most productive from early morning until around lunch time. And, frankly, I’m not great in the afternoon. It’s better for me to make calls, run meetings, have catch ups with the team and things like that in an afternoon. Or, honestly, afternoons are best spent getting out for a walk or taking some downtime if it’s feasible.

Documentation is a morning activity for me.

And I get another couple of hours of good productivity in the evening.

I work no more hours than a standard working day, but I work them more flexibly and as a result, I get more out of my working day. I’m self employed. Maximising my working hours is incredibly important.

But for the businesses who employ staff and pay them for a day’s work only to get 2 hours and 23 minutes worth of productivity out of them? Well, that’s potentially an expensive chunk of time in which your business doesn’t benefit at all.

Flexibility isn’t only an incentive to help reduce staff turnover (another expensive problem in the service industries), but keeps your staff more motivated and wins you more productivity.

So consider loosening your rules about desk bound hours and experiment with getting more productivity, a more motivated team and a working environment people enjoy being in.

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