Technology has greatly improved communication and allowed us to streamline processes and improve final work products. As a result, you would think that the number of required work hours would continue to decrease. Unfortunately, it seems as though the opposite is true. Many of us are now staying connected around the clock. This, in fact, can actually decrease overall productivity.
When many of us talk about a typical workday, we might use the term “nine-to-five.” This was a standard that was adopted by Henry Ford in the early 1900s. But before this time, the typical workday was much longer. In fact, many workers could expect to be on the job for up to sixteen hours a day!
The eight-hour shortened workday first resulted in a surge of productivity. And as technology continues to increase, we would expect to see productivity continue to rise, and the required office hours further decrease. But it seems like the opposite is actually true.
Nowadays we have access to an almost unlimited number of apps and systems designed to make our jobs easier and more streamlined than ever. However, instead of putting in less hours, it seems like many of us are essentially always on the clock.
Many companies and managers make the point that they do not expect their teams to work outside of the scheduled office hours. However, by having constant access to work email and databases, many employees feel obligated to check in.
Studies have shown that many employees feel a sense of pride from being overworked – or, on the other hand, guilt from taking allotted time off for vacation. And, when employees do take time away from the office, many never actually fully “disconnect.” Having things like “unlimited vacation time” can also do more harm than good – in this situation, there is often only illusion of time off, and employees tend to work even more hours.
As a result, more employees than ever are experiencing chronic fatigue and burning out. This, in turn, is lowering overall productivity and having dramatic effects on employees’ personal health and wellbeing.
Companies are slowly beginning to realize the negative impacts from being constantly connected. It may seem counter intuitive, but in order to actually improve overall productivity and decrease things like employee burnout and turnover rates, some organizations are actually mandating that employees take their allotted personal days and that they fully disconnect during this time.
In many ways, technology can help us become more productive and improve our work-life balance. But there are also many ways where the opposite is true. It is important that companies realize this and look for ways to promote their employees’ health and wellbeing – productivity will increase as a result of them doing so.