Working after-hours might not be as productive as you think

Working after-hours repeatedly has consequences. — AFP Relaxnews

Some employees stack up nocturnal work sessions throughout the week in order to get ahead on their work tasks. However this strategy proves counterproductive and even damaging to their mental health, as a Slack survey* reveals.

In fact, around 40% of office workers say they regularly work overtime. The survey found that most people who work outside their office hours (54%) don't do so by choice but rather feel obliged to do so.

Employees who turn to doing overtime sessions often feel that they don’t have enough time to complete all the items on their to-do list during the workday. Competing priorities prevent them from organising their time as they see fit, which in their view is detrimental to their productivity.

Meeting load comes up frequently as an obstacle. One employee in four feels that they spend too much time in meetings, which now take place either remotely or around a table. This feeling is particularly widespread among managers, especially executives (55%).

Some 25% of working people say they spend a large part of their time writing or answering email messages. And it’s not just an impression: according to a LiveCareer survey, office workers spend the equivalent of three weeks or even a month each year sorting through their professional mailboxes.

The proliferation of meetings and email messages (as well as notifications on professional messaging systems) contributes to ever more intense days, which are increasingly broken up in parts. Employees are often interrupted in their personal productivity work, prompting them to make up for lost time outside their normal working hours.

However, repeated overtime comes with consequences. Employees who feel obliged to work overtime tend to be more stressed and more dissatisfied with their careers than their counterparts who respect their working hours. They are also twice as likely to feel overworked.

This can lead to fatigue, exhaustion... and a general drop in productivity. Indeed, Slack's report* claims that employees who feel compelled to work overtime are 20% less efficient during their working day. – AFP Relaxnews

*Some 10,333 workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK were interviewed for the survey between Aug 24 and Sept 15, 2023.

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