Why going home from work on time is good for you – and your employer

Source from The Guardian: Why going home from work on time is good for you – and your employerVerrrrry interesting. Very interesting indeed.

  • Top 5 countries (spend the least hours working): Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, France

And the countries above actually turn out to be some of the most productive countries in the world.

  • Bottom 5 countries (spend the most time working): Mexico, Korea, Greece, Chile, Poland

And yet these countries were not usually the most productive. In fact, the article goes on to suggest that there is emerging evidence that there may be a negative correlation between time spent working and productivity.

NB: I'd like to add a disclosure at this point. A very good friend of mine who has a strong economics mind has helped me understand that we cannot draw conclusions as simple as that. I completely agree and am myself usually hesitant when it comes to media because there are many times when sweeping conclusions have been drawn from insufficient evidence or links.

For example, my friend points out the following:

For example, Germany has a lot more technological capital than Greece (where the majority of people are self-employed running small businesses). So it is expected that Germany would be more ‘productive’. This is a result of how survey data measures productivity, which is usually defined as GDP per person/hours worked, and it doesn’t really capture the nuances of each country's labour market.

I think he captures a very important point about research methodology and I get where he's coming from. Because, if you really want to draw links, you need to be able to isolate individual variables (e.g. separating productivity from a country's structural factors) in order to compare. So indeed please take any conclusions that I might draw, or even in articles you read, with a critical eye. :)

NNB: (If NNB even exists) Actually, this is actually one of the reasons why I love having this website. I've had friends read a post and say "Actually..." and discussed it further with me. For me, it's become a really nice platform to have my views challenged and also to learn from my friends. :)

Anyways, so you probably already know that work hours is a topic I find really interesting. I've had posts talking about moving away from the 40 hour work week and also my future 'ideal work situation'.

So this article and line of thought just adds further to my work philosophy. When I was working in my last internship, two of my managers were amazing at keeping a work life balance. They completed their work, even shone in what they did and still managed to leave work at a reasonable time. This is especially amazing compared to everyone else who usually stayed at work past 6pm, 7pm, 8pm...

And I know that this is not an anomaly but instead almost the expected standard. People expect to stay past 5pm, both the employee of themselves and the employer expecting it of their worker. I recently had a conversation with someone who did an internship at an investment bank and the NORM was to work until 12am or sometimes even later. Sometimes the managers would leave work at 6 or 7pm, assigning work to the interns as they were leaving. I couldn't beleive it.

I have other friends who don't work in the finance industry but still never, EVER leave work at 5pm, usually taking it as the norm to leave around 6pm or later. I thought that too, when I was in my internship. I thought that staying late was a sign of a hard worker, someone who was willing to stay late and work more. It'd reach 5:30pm or 6:00pm and I could've gone home, but I saw other people were still working and figured I'd just do a little extra work, to finish something off or to get myself a little ahead of tomorrow's work.

But now I realise I respect more the people who are able to do it all, AND still have a good work life balance. I think that says more about a person than someone who stays many hours later and spends all their time at work. This lead to my belief that if I was to ever have my own organisation, I would try to encourage everyone to leave on time. I would want to create a company  culture where those who are looked up to perform whilst still maintaining other aspects of their life. Because those aspects are important too. No one is SOLELY interested in just their work.

So I'm happy that this article and data helps to back up this philosophy that this might be a better way of working. :)