Competitive ‘Research’ About Overtime

It’s worth taking a quick listen to Commentary – Overtime’s not good for your health. The folks from University of Arkansas actually have data that says overtime is ok and doesn’t reduce productivity. Hah! I wonder where their data came from. On the other hand, Joe Robinson’s commentary makes perfect sense to me. Here are some of his comments:

“Excess overtime reduces productivity during regular and excess hours” (paraphrase by JR)

“People working 7 50-hour weeks produce less than people working 7 40-hour weeks”

“Long hours are a tragic failure of the knowledge economy”

So forget the idea that you’re making progress by working overtime. It’s not going to happen. I wrote a bit about preventing overtime in my last Pragmatic Manager newsletter. Some ideas: ask how little you can do, look at your fix rate to verify you’re making progress, look at multi-tasking, create release criteria, and review if everyone’s late, or just some staff. Help those staff where necessary.

Whatever you do, understand that you can push as much as you’d like, but you still can’t think any faster. (Thanks to Tim Lister, from whom I first heard that gem.)

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