In my last post, I referred to the macho nature of workaholism as a factor that increased the challenges faced by professional women. The increasing interest of men in spending quality time with their families is likely to bring the issue of work-life balance to the forefront.
Businesses fear that having people working fewer hours will mean having to hire more people and/or affect performance. But there is research to show those assumptions may be wrong.
Studies have shown that productivity declines when people work excessive hours. While most easily measured in manufacturing settings, this applies to white collar work as well. Working long hours over time can also contribute to health problems like hypertension, depression, or heart disease – all of which can lead to absenteeism (which = $$$).
So working fewer hours (something like 40-45 hours per week) can be more productive than working 60. Where I live- in Silicon Valley- many people would say that is crazy. So- if you do have to work really long hours- what can you do?
- For individuals:
- Take breaks. Wake a walk around the block, take a 10-15 minute nap, grab a healthy snack awway from your desk.
- And by the way- stand up every 20 minutes to improve your health.
- For companies:
- Provide flexible hours (like 4 day work weeks) or
- Provide flexible work arrangements (where you work). Medtronic invested $800,000 to create an office environment to facilitate telecommuting; workers come in just a couple of days a week. It saved that much within 6 weeks because of the reduction in buildings needed to house the employees full time.
None of this is rocket science. This knowledge has been around for a while. What it really takes is the willpower of executives to make these changes. Hopefully, as men become more concerned about work-life balance, we’ll see a push to make that happen.