How many hours did you work last week? How many hours did your employee’s work? Chances are, if the total is closer to 60 than it is 40, productivity was actually lost rather than gained.
This information falls into the “Things-we-know-but-do-nothing-about” category regarding human behavior and performance. Studies reaching all the way back to the early twentieth century have shown time and again that people working less hours often produce, not only more per hour, but more in total than those working longer hours.
As I started to research this post, I had imagined that here I would say, “With the exception of short periods of activity…” which is typically what is said about long work hours. But try as I might, I can find no data that supports even that idea. The fact is that, if just for today, you work 14 hours rather than 8, your productivity will decline in the latter half of the day to the point that it may even be negative by the time you’re finished. In other words, you may start to eliminate gains you made earlier in the day by trying to stay at work longer.
As I’ve stated before, there’s no such thing as work/life balance. There’s only life. A reader by the name of Allison Morris helped create the infographic you see here which was originally posted over at the OnlineMBA blog. Check it out and see what you think.