Is Technology Making Us Less Productive?
The standard of eight hours per day, five days per week has been the norm for so long, but that norm has been quietly changing – and not for the better. While technology has allowed us to do more in less time, it has also allowed us to work anytime from anywhere. This has become a double-edged sword for most.
The concept of the eight-hour work day began with Robert Owen in the late 18th Century, but was not implemented until Henry Ford adopted the standard in 1914. The standard of eight hours of work each day was not created in a scientific manner. It is simply one third of a full day, which was actually less than the average of ten to sixteen hours that workers typically logged in at that time. Ford saw productivity rise when adopting the shortened work day, thus we have a society that works from nine-to-five.
Technology now allows us to access our work email and computers twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week. While most managers do not expect their teams to work outside of normal office hours, many employees feel that because they have access to their work via technology, they are obligated to check in. This access is quickly leading to longer hours spent working, which results in sleep deprivation, an increase in chronic disease (especially in women), and a dramatic decrease in overall productivity.
In response to the effects technology has on their teams, many organizations have adopted the work from anywhere, flextime, and unlimited vacation policies. While shorter days foster a better work/life balance that allows for more time with families, as well as for hobbies and exercise, employees feel guilty for taking advantage of them.
Organizations need to foster a culture that supports maximum productivity. If flextime or unlimited vacation policies exist, they should not create an illusion of decreased hours that ultimately result in longer days.
Technology has changed how we work and, when used properly, can make us more productive. In many respects, it has caused much debate on the validity of the eight-hour workday standard. When people begin blurring the line between work and home life due to constant access to their work email, technology can ultimately become a toxin to one’s productivity and health.
In our next article, we will expand upon this discussion by taking a closer look at how to schedule your day for maximum productivity.
Gary Vice is sought out by leaders in Software and Services who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through Strategic Recruiting Partners’ extensive network of relationships, they are able to identify high level opportunities for well qualified candidates. To discover how this process can benefit your job search, simply reply to this email or call Gary at 469.402.4008.