9 to 5? Why Bother

work productive

At this point, we might as well adopt France’s 35-hour work week.

A quarter of the workforce spends at least an hour per day doing anything but working, according to a national survey. Many employees cop to making personal calls, emails, and texts during their average day.  About 21% of professionals admit to spending at least an hour surfing the web for reasons that aren’t work related.

The gamut of distractions present in any workplace run far and wide–cell phones, unrestricted internet browsing, frequent meetings, noisy co-workers–have all been cited as productivity destroyers. So while Americans may either tout or lament working more hours than most other countries, the 9-5 (or 8-8 in some industries) might not be the most productive.

Employers are certainly taking steps to reduce all the stimuli that ruin productivity. They are monitoring emails, blocking certain websites, even checking personal cell phones at the door. But those steps make employees feel more like prisoners, and have a strong chance of ruining a desirable office culture.

What actions can you take to create an engaging, productive environment without attaching employees to a ball and chain?

Reduce Meetings

Often meetings tend to have no planning, no direction, and involve more people than need to be included. Most likely, the last meeting you attended left you unmotivated, and more interested in heading straight to the water cooler, lunch, or Facebook. Running frequent meetings are most likely to serve as an interruption to any momentum that people may have running – so take steps to reduce meetings by all means necessary.

Work/Life Balance

Consider why employees are flocking to their personal phones and social networks.  If they aren’t simply bored with the job they are doing, they are likely to be feeling socially cut-off.  If employees are consistently asked to stay late or come in on weekends, chances are high that they are starving for out-of-the-office time. Or they are scheduling appointments for themselves and their families, and keeping up with friends while at work because they aren’t home often enough to do so. The cure? Providing flexible hours and make sure employees take breaks and their allotted vacation time.

Provide Meaningful Work

Without meaning and purpose, employees will seek inspiration or entertainment elsewhere during the work week.  To keep employees motivated and excited to work, igniting their passion and purpose is essential.  This requires motivating beyond cash rewards or incentives.  In fact, a recent IvyExec study shows that employees seek job quality, and rewarding professional relationships over financial gain. Joshua Spodek, an executive coach in New York, advises leaders to take the time to interpret exactly what motivates employees, and apply this knowledge to create engaging work individually.

About the Author

Greg Olsten is Ivy Exec's Sr. Content Manager, producing Online Classes, and Executive Intelligence articles.