Posted: September 16th, 2023
Topic: Workers are less productive and make more typos in the afternoon — especially on Fridays
Date: August 2, 2023
Author: Ann Kellett
Source: Texas A&M University
On August 2, 2023, a groundbreaking study was unveiled by the Texas A&M School of Public Health, which illuminates previously intuited beliefs regarding employee behavior and productivity patterns. This interdisciplinary study leaned on the innovative approach of using computer usage metrics for data collection, offering an objective view of worker performance. The data conclusively showed that employees exhibited diminished productivity in the afternoons, especially on Fridays – the latter being the absolute base of weekly productivity. The study analyzed the computer behaviors of 789 office employees from a large energy firm in Texas for two years. This data was then juxtaposed against the typical days of the week and specific times of the day to discern patterns. The findings present a case for employers to consider flexible work arrangements, given that 60% of full-time paid workers worked onsite as of May 2023. As per previous studies, flexible arrangements have proven beneficial for both employee well-being and potential cost savings for businesses.
Diving Deep into Productivity Metrics: A Revolutionary Approach
A marked transition from conventional methods, this research exemplifies an innovative departure from standard productivity metrics, such as self-reports or supervisory evaluations. Traditionally, business research heavily leans on subjective feedback—a method often tainted with bias. Intriguingly, in their study, Vij & Bedi (2016), Are Subjective Business Performance Measures Justified, shed light on the omnipresence of response bias in such subjective measures, highlighting the hazards of an over-reliance on them. Venturing beyond this, the trailblazing team at Texas A&M introduces a refreshing perspective. They crafted an objective lens to examine productivity through computer usage metrics, such as typing speed, error rates, and mouse activity. To illustrate, consider the claim: “Employees tend to be less active and commit more typos in the afternoons”—this assertion draws weight and authority from empirical data (Kellett., 2023, para. 1).
But here’s what’s truly fascinating: this approach’s potential universal application. The Annual Review of Psychology recently presented an article, “Replicability, Robustness, and Reproducibility in Psychological Science,” highlighting the power of replicability in advancing knowledge (Nosek et al., 2022). Such findings, when reproducible, amplify their meaning and validity across various sectors. Could businesses, then, harness such methods to delve into the intricacies of their employees’ productivity rhythms? It seems that the answer is a definite “yes.”
For businesses grappling with a decline in productivity, revelations of a noticeable drop in computer use every afternoon, particularly on Fridays, can be the beacon guiding HR strategies and refining operational blueprints. The implications don’t just end there. According to a study documented in PMC, mounting evidence indicates that work flexibility—both in terms of location and timing—can bestow workers with greater job control, thus accentuating their work-related well-being (Ray & Pana-Cryan, 2021).
Moreover, onsite staffing patterns are seeing a resurgence. The New York Times notes from a recent survey, “12% of the workforce remains fully remote, and a substantial 60% is entirely onsite, with the remainder opting for a hybrid model” (Goldberg, 2023, para. 3.). One compelling solution to tackle the afternoon lulls and the notorious Friday productivity dips? Allow employees the liberty to chalk out flexible schedules. The emphasis should squarely be on scheduling pivotal tasks during zenith productivity windows. Yet, management must also be attuned to the implications of these policies on workforce morale. A 2020 Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology publication posits that such flexible arrangements can elevate employee well-being and boost performance (Mache et al., 2020).
Thus, the path forward seems clear. Companies benefit immensely from embracing flexibility—promoting remote work, shortening the work week, or both. What are the potential outcomes? An uptick in productivity, a harmonious work-life balance, reduced carbon emissions, and significant overhead savings.
Goldberg, E. (2023, March 30).
Do we know how many people are working from home?
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Kellett., A. (2023, August 2).
Workers are less productive and make more typos in the afternoon — especially on Fridays. ScienceDaily.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230802235453.htmLinks to an external site.
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