According to a New York Magazine article from 2015, having employees work longer hours isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to run your business. In this article, author Melissa Dahl suggests that, unsurprisingly, quality reigns over quantity–she says that if you work harder over shorter periods, you’ll get more done than dragging out your day so you can brag about how many hours you put in.
We can see this trend gaining popularity worldwide–or at least, everywhere in the world except the United States. An article published in the New York Post in honor of Labor day states that Americans work more than most other countries. Annually, we work 137 hours more than the Japanese, 260 more than the United Kingdom, and 500 more than the French.
A lot of that extra work comes down to good old American work ethic; we’ve always been a hard-working people and rightfully proud of it. But we have to ask ourselves whether it’s worth it–are we working harder instead of working smarter?
Extrapolating from this data, our work environments probably aren’t as efficient as they could be. By strategizing how to make every facet of your office as useful as possible, we could easily increase employee work output by promoting mental and physical well-being. This means something different for every person and office–it could mean making employees more comfortable by using ergonomic chairs and sit-to-stand desks, or providing a break room for them to escape to if they need a moment to relax, or even just replacing your outdated coffee machine with a newer model.
So if you’re employees aren’t working at maximum productivity, don’t assume it’s because they’re lazy or distracted–it could be that their environment and schedule aren’t providing an ideal place to work. Ask what you can do to improve things for them, and wait and see how much better things get once you act on their qualms.