A new study has confirmed what many employees have long known to be the case: more than a third of workers report that they stay late at work and that workplace culture is making them feel obliged to do so.
The phenomenon of ‘presenteeism’ is alive and well according to some new research carried out by Totaljob, which collected data from 1,000 workers and 250 employers. Two out of five people who provided information to the study reported that bosses were encouraging employees to stay late. However, it is not only the management that is contributing to the issue. One in three employees admitted that they would look down on a colleague who left work on time.
There are variations in attitude between professions, regions and age. Those working in occupations associated with IT, accounts, human resources and teaching are most likely to stay late in work. Employees based in Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and London reported the biggest ‘presenteeism’ issue. Unsurprisingly, younger workers (aged 18 to 34) worried most that they would be perceived as unwilling to work hard if they left on time.
However, staying late at work does not benefit employees or employers in the long term. Studies indicate that workers can only be truly productive for approximately four hours. The remainder of the working day is filled with unimportant tasks and procrastination. The result is that there is no time for activities that benefit physical and mental health such as socialising, preparing healthy meals and getting enough exercise. Workers could be storing up health problems for the future.
There are clearly benefits to getting away from work on time and below are some tips for how you can do just that.
How to leave work on time
Maximise the time that you are in work so that you can get essential tasks done in less time. If you are distracted by an open-plan office, you can use noise-cancelling headphones or book a quiet meeting room where you can focus on the job.
It helps if you don’t take on too many tasks at once. It is better to impress an employer by doing an excellent job on a small number of projects than an average job on a huge number. Play to your strengths so that you can impress with quality over quantity.
Motivate yourself to leave the office by a certain time by arranging something to look forward to at least once a week, such as a get together with friends or a gym class.
On days when you know it will be impossible for you to leave work on time, pace yourself during the day to stay productive. A lunch break where you get away from your desk and actually eat something is essential. Some exercise, preferably in the fresh air, will also be beneficial, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
Finally, Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk is reportedly an advocate of walking out of meetings if they are going on too long or are not adding value. This is one of the more extreme ways that you can make sure that you remain productive all day and get to leave work on time.
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