Ways of working

Are you a workaholic?

We've all had 'one of those weeks' – you're working on several projects at the same time while juggling simultaneous deadlines, training new colleagues and meeting clients. Suddenly, you've racked up almost 70 hours in the office without realising.

Long days are a global phenomenon; in China, the average working week is 44 hours, while in Colombia and Turkey, employees work almost 50 hours a week.

The growth of 'workaholics'

These long hours spent in the office have given rise to the 'workaholic' – the worker who routinely puts in extra hours every week. In many ways, it can be compared to other addictions: the adrenaline rush during an intense period of work and the slump that comes afterwards.

The difference is that being a 'workaholic' is accepted by society – we've all come across someone who makes it a point of honour to brandish how many hours they've worked. For fast-growth companies, this is often a prominent issue, as employees find themselves under pressure to meet a high-velocity speed of business and to multi-task across a variety of projects.

A company-wide problem

However, working long hours isn't always effective. In fact, studies show that productivity drops sharply after 55 hours, and, by the time you reach over 70 hours, productivity is so low that the output is the same as having worked 55 hours in a week.

Not only that, but it can also have grave effects on your employees' health. According to research on overworking in Japan, professionals who habitually worked over 60 hours a week were an extraordinary 15 times more likely to suffer from depression than those who didn't.

What can you do?

Although it's a widespread problem, it isn't insurmountable. Often, the solution is more about culture change than anything else – which is a big advantage for fast-growing companies, who are used to taking on new, streamlined ways of working, and adapting quickly to new challenges.

In this case, it's all about being more flexible. Take, for instance, the commute. In the UK, workers travel an average of 55 minutes each way daily. But by switching to using coworking spaces closer to residential areas for days when staff don't need to be in the main office, you can instantly cut that time – and increase your employees' leisure time.

Equally, switching to a flexible model means replacing an 'hours worked' attitude with an ROI-oriented one. This means workers focus on getting results in shorter timeframes, and Regus research shows it drives up productivity for around 72% of employees.