Hail to short workweeks! New scientific evidence suggests working more than 3 days a week takes its toll on the performance of those employees who are older than 40 years. You may probably have known it since the very beginning (even when you were twenty-something–especially when you were twenty-something), but now it is backed by research!
Image Credit: mediabakery.com / Blend Images
A team of Australian researchers from the University of Melbourne revealed that for those who have reached the age of 40, it is better to have a workweek of no more than 3 days. Well, you can work more, but your performance won’t be that good.
Let’s admit it: we all wouldn’t mind working only three days per week. This way, it would be less intimidating to be a commuter, more interesting to do routine things, and leave room in your schedule for something that would inspire you. However, this pattern turns out to be justified only in the case of those older than 40. Don’t be upset – in this day and age, many people manage to reach this period of life.
Is that really news?
In the study, the researchers invited about 6,500 Australian citizens (3,500 were females) to take part in their experiment. The participants were asked to take a set of tests aimed at assessment of their work habits. They read words aloud, matched numbers and letters in a speed test, and recited numbers backwards.
When the investigators adjusted the test results for the volunteers’ well-being, marital status, employment, and quality of life, they found that the best results were achieved by the group of adults who worked 25 hours per week. Working less than that also turned out to be a disadvantage, as the performance was worse both after and before the mark.
If the workweek lasted longer than 25 hours, fatigue started to take its toll, and stress was another contributor. If there was not enough work for the brain to do, they did not have an opportunity to stretch their thinking muscles. Once the 25-hour mark is hit, the brain activity is stimulated without stressing it too much.
Assuming that most office workers (who now make up a significant share of the Earth’s population) enjoy their nine-to-fives every working day, the golden 25 hours are 3 working days (well, with another 20 minutes per working day to chat with colleagues).
Not so funny
However unrealistic it may sound, overworking can have a detrimental effect on health. Not only does it cost you time, money and energy – it is also a financial burden for the state, so reevaluating standard working patterns could be a good way out: as performance increases, the quality of work improves. However, it is unlikely that such researches will change the way people work nowadays: less working days means less profits for the employer and less money for the employee.
It has recently been reported that working more than forty-five hours a week could be a significant diabetes risk factor in women. More researches related to working are being conducted, and their findings encourage people to do something to relieve stress. If there is no siesta or some zone for relaxation in your office, you could do yoga breaks while sitting on your chair, or help your mind and body relax some other way. Northern people vote for niksen.
It is worthy of note that to combat work-induced stress, you should sleep at least 7 hours a day. Other ways to compensate for the extra hours are eating healthy foods (the good old Mediterranean diet will do in most cases), and doing physical activity (like jogging or yoga).
Use It Too Much and Lose It? The Effect of Working Hours on Cognitive Ability – Melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au