The Work-Life Imbalance
Spending your evenings at the office? We look at the impact of excessive overtime on your professional and personal life.
A recent survey by Towers Watson has found that working hours remain on the rise in the UK and are continuing to adversely impact stress levels.
57% of employers say staff are working some level of unpaid overtime and 32% say their employees experience excessive levels of stress on a regular basis.
Productivity and Stress
The 40-hour working week we know today was introduced by working unions and realised by businesses who found it actually improved output. 8-hour working days continue to be the limit at which productivity naturally caps.
So what happens if you start regularly working outside these hours? As you rise towards 60-hour weeks, 150 years of authoritative studies have identified the following impact:
- Between hours 10 and 12 each day, you are clinically exhausted
- After 2 weeks, productivity levels suddenly drop off
- After 6 weeks, you make more mistakes than you can fix
- After 8 weeks, you have achieved no more than normal workers
- For weeks afterwards, you will be far less productive than your colleagues
Avoiding Burn Out
An author and consultant who specialises in this field recommends fighting this trend to stay on top of your game:
ΓÇ£ItΓÇÖs important to grasp that for knowledge workers there is no simple relationship between hours worked and output!ΓÇ¥ says Alexander Kjerulf. ΓÇ£There are three things you can do about this.
ΓÇ£DonΓÇÖt work overtime. In fact, some studies indicate that knowledge workers are the most productive when they work 35 hours a week. Take breaks during the work day and make sure to take vacations.
ΓÇ£And experiment to find out what schedule works best for you. Five eight-hour days? Four longer days and a long weekend?ΓÇ¥
Life Outside the Office
The impact of stress on busy workers takes its toll outside the office as well as in ΓÇô a Regus survey found that 43% of workers are taking work home more than three times a week and 69% are regularly checking work emails on their mobiles.
This directly results ΓÇô unsurprisingly ΓÇô in 27% of stressed out workaholics reporting that their partners, families or friends have expressed ΓÇÿserious upsetΓÇÖ.
But if faced with an ultimatum to give up a high paying job at the risk of losing someone they love, a chemistry.com survey found that 74.6% of men and 70.3% of women would quit the job.
So if your heart doesn’t lie at the office but you have to work all hours, what can you do to spend more time with your loved ones?
Avoiding Relationship Strain
According to the dating experts, the key to success in relationships while stuck at work is in prioritising early finish times as well as long working hours.
ΓÇ£In the UK we are susceptible to ΓÇÿlong hours cultureΓÇÖ,ΓÇ¥ agrees a spokesperson of match.com. ΓÇ£But try to keep a close eye on your diary and work schedule to set clear boundaries about when you can and canΓÇÖt work late.
ΓÇ£DonΓÇÖt regularly cancel dates to stay late and finish that presentation ΓÇô you shouldnΓÇÖt work late at the expense of your love life and personal happiness.ΓÇ¥
Do you work long hours and suffer the results? Is it as simple as forcing yourself out of the office some nights? Share your thoughts in the comments below.