Employee productivity is at risk through insistence of maintaining an ‘always on’ mentality, according to new reports. Being encouraged to power through to the end of the working day, many are finding their work overwhelming without the ability to properly wind down and take a breather. Examining how fatigue affects workers and how to overcome office exhaustion, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Manel Baucells has studied how to make the most out of workers.
When managing fatigue for ‘analogue’ jobs where work fluctuates through the day, try to avoid starting the day slowly, Baucells recommends in the study it’s time to get some rest that work should be structured in a high-low-high method, giving space to breathe and reassess in the middle of the day, when you are at your most naturally alert. Starting off slow and gradually building productivity through the day can leave workers feeling like they’ve left things unfinished when they leave work, only to restart the process again tomorrow.
For non-analogue jobs, or ‘binary’ work, such as working in retail or catering, breaks are vital for mental relief. Describing breaks as “investments in future productivity,” Baucells and co-author Lin Zhao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered how a seven hour working day with three breaks is more productive than a straight 10 hour shift. Allowing for the workload to be distributed evenly through the day instead of relentlessly tackling each challenge for your whole shift could increase your efficiency by nearly a third by the end of the day.
Have fun distractions
Bosses should encourage, and even provide workers with fun distractions through the day to keep morale and energy high, improving engagement when it matters. Believing the change won’t only affect an individual’s mental and physical health by relaxing them, even getting them out of the office, the positive effects will also be reflected in the business and economy as a whole.
“The bottom line is, when it comes to rest and managing fatigue, the incentives of companies and workers are perfectly aligned: Reducing fatigue increases productivity, lowers the cost of providing effort, increasing work satisfaction, lowering turnover and absenteeism, and ultimately increasing profits,” said Baucell. “Google seems to have learned this lesson and makes the work environment pleasant, promoting fun distractions, while at the same time encouraging long work hours.”