The long working day has been one of the many productivity myths that have been debunked over the past couple of decades, not least since the start of the pandemic when flexible working arrangements were widely adopted across many industries and occupations throughout the world, to great success.

Research has revealed that after six hours of work the law of diminishing returns sets in, resulting in a decline in productivity. This contradicts previous assumptions that an employee who is the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave in the evening is more dedicated and able to accomplish more than fellow co-workers.

Look at it like this. Kids who are left to explore and engage in unlimited and unstructured play time think in greater depth, gain a better understanding of a situation, and come up with more innovative solutions; and the same can be applied to adults in the workplace.

High levels of productivity don’t come from working long and tireless hours in the office, but from creating a rhythm or being in flow. Shorts bursts of productivity are beneficial to both the individual employee and the business. Why? Problem solving and creative thinking tends to stimulate cortisol in the body, and overtime this can cause symptoms such as stress and anxiety in employees; the opposite of happy and healthy workers and certainly not conducive to a productive working environment.

Momentum is the key to being productive and ultimately, is what will drive workers throughout the day. Scientifically speaking, employees who are able to establish a pattern of completing tasks, both big and small, set off neurotransmitters that increase motivation to continue with the work regardless of the difficulty level or personal interest in the project.

Businesses can take advantage of this by allowing employees to have more say in the hours and days they work, with the aim of working smarter rather than harder. While some employees are the most productive in the morning, others may be more inspired to complete their best work in the afternoons or evenings. By focusing on outputs rather than the number of hours worked, business owners will see greater results as employees feel more freedom and are able to work during peak productivity times, leading to more creative and innovative solutions.

As a business owner, if you’re interested in exploring strategies to support your workforce to unlock their full potential, increase productivity and achieve greater results through flexible working arrangements, join our Hybrid Work webinar on Tuesday 23 May 2022 at 10am. Register your attendance here.

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