Advice for Employees Working Outside of Office Hours

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A recent report shows that 35% of British employees work longer than their contracted hours with as many as 8% of us working up to 20 extra hours a week.

Being in the office after everyone else has left, completing projects and sending emails in the evenings as well as at the weekends is something most of us do at some point, unfortunately for many of us it is a regular occurrence. Sometimes it is just sheer workload and the need to relieve some stress by keeping on top of things. Other reasons for putting in extra hours are catching up on emails that you haven’t had a chance to get to, not getting all of your work done in the day due to distractions, wanting to show extra commitment to advance your career or for financial reasons such as earning some extra money.

Working excessive hours will eventually take its toll and is just not sustainable. It will become harder to cope with stress, concentration will diminish and you could potentially burnout. Whilst it may seem implausible to only work office hours, we all need to try re-evaluating our priorities. When stress levels increase, so too does fatigue, irritability, mistakes and the risk of mental, physical and emotional illness. Never has it been more important to try to find that good work-life balance, to have down time and unwind. Ultimately it will only have a beneficial effect on you and the Company.

Here are some steps that Senior Leaders and Managers can take as part of their duty of care to try to encourage their people to switch off when they leave the office:
  • leading by example would be a good start, ‘clock out’ when the bell goes as often as you can
  • encourage people to take their full lunch break – it’s amazing how much more effectively you work when you have taken a break and reset
  • consider offering flexi hours if the business can accommodate it
  • if you have an open plan office consider having a separate ‘quiet zone’ where people can get away to focus on a piece of work that is imminent
  • have regular meetings, assess their workload and see if they need help improving their time management
  • encourage collaboration between team members to help each other out when an individual has surge of workload
  • encourage people to step away from their desks and take a break (in Sweden they take a daily ‘fika’ – this is at around 11am and everyone stops what they are doing to meet and have coffee and cake!)
Some of our European counterparts have different working regulations; for example, Denmark has 6.6 hour workdays, in Luxembourg it is illegal to work on Sundays and employees in Finland enjoy a 1 – 2 hour lunch break. France has even gone as far as to ban sending work emails at the weekend. Whatever you do, it will ultimately be beneficial to the Company’s success.

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