Staff working through the night

It’s easier than ever to work away from the office: after all, we all have phones and tablets loaded with powerful apps, not to mention access to 3G or wifi everywhere. Whether it’s quickly checking email or writing a ten thousand word report entirely with your thumbs, it’s getting easier all the time to get work done at home, on holiday or even on the bus. But all of this ‘productivity’ might not be as beneficial as it seems.

A Microsoft ad that went viral earlier this year showed a world where you can stay tethered to work even when in the loo or spending quality time with your children. No doubt the ad was meant to showcase the company’s productivity apps, but it backfired as it seemed to endorse the idea of working every waking hour. If you recognise yourself in that graphic, things need to change; here’s why you and your team need to switch off from time to time.

Microsoft want you to burn out at work

You’ll burn out

Even those who truly love their work can get sick from it. Overworking is associated with all kinds of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and a weaker immune system. A cause of many health problems is insomnia, which you’re particularly susceptible to if you’re staring at screens in bed – and that’ll just make you less productive and reliable during the day.

Conversely, weekends and holidays where workers truly unplug are shown to make us happier and healthier. The right balance is essential to avoid working ourselves into exhaustion.

You need work-life balance

It’s true that the workplace is generally becoming a less formal environment. In addition to this, it’s easier for people to take their work home. However it’s still as important as ever to create a divide between your home life and your work life. This is about more than just relieving stress. Being able to switch ‘work’ on and off means you’ll be more refreshed and more productive when you come to it fresh in the morning.

When you leave work in the evenings, make a real effort to transition mentally to home time. It sounds funny but taking small actions such as changing into casual clothes or switching off your phone’s email alerts can help you get out of ‘work mode’ and be able to relax in the evenings.

Your team should enjoy working

Some workers take it upon themselves to dedicate every waking hour to their job. But in many cases, it’s actually the managers who demand that work begins when their team wakes up and doesn’t end until the small hours. It’s also common for bosses to expect their employees to be at least ‘on call’ while on holiday, if not to actually take part in conference calls from their hammock.

This is a definite sign of an unhealthy working relationship, and is a pretty good way to make sure that the best workers don’t stay with the company for long. Remember that most people don’t leave their jobs – they leave their managers, and all the unreasonable demands that are put upon them. Great workers can manage their own time, so if you’re asking your team to stay connected around the clock, we really think you’d be better off taking a step back. If nothing else, they’ll come to the office with much more enthusiasm for the work.

You’re not actually getting that much done

Losing your social life is all fine if you can squeeze a few more hours’ work out of the day, right? Well, it turns out you’re probably not productive enough to make it worth working through the evenings. In fact, research shows that beyond forty hours a week, people really don’t get much more done.

What’s more, holidays, weekends and even lunch breaks are shown to aid productivity greatly. There’s only so much focus the average person can hold, so unless you’re some kind of superhuman, consider switching off after forty to fifty hours’ work in the week. Enjoy your weekend and leave the rest till Monday.

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