Did you know that 1st June is Leave the Office Early Day? Especially seeing that this day falls on a Friday this year, it’s an attractive proposition – although many of us are likely to be in two minds about the concept.
You see, as much as we all like the idea of getting off work early, most of us are too addicted to our gruelling schedules to actually celebrate Leave the Office Early Day. In this era of staff cuts and uncertain job futures, many workers feel guilty about taking time off, afraid that it will inconvenience their colleagues or endanger their career. While dedication to your work and willingness to put in a little overtime when the pressure is on are signs of a good employee, it is equally true that working too much, too hard and for too long can actually harm your productivity.
This is no new-fangled psychological theory, either – as Cara Stein noted on Work Awesome, in the early 1900s, car manufacturer Henry Ford proved he was visionary in more ways than one when he observed that employees work better when they are given sufficient rest time. He first cut daily work hours from 10 to 8 hours, then cut the work week from 6 to 5 days – with no discernible loss of productivity. His conclusion? There was no point in keeping his employees in the factory for more hours when he could get the same results in less time.
The idea here is that having a proper work-life balance helps to reduce stress and improve focus, clarity of thought and creativity. This means that by taking time away from the workplace, we’ll function a lot more effectively when we are there. Plus, it has long been recognised that happy employees are more productive workers and are willing to put a lot more into their jobs.
Moreover, stress lowers our body’s immune resistance, meaning we’re more likely to get ill and have to take time off work anyway. Even those who run their own business and feel they literally can’t afford to take their eye off the ball even for a second can actually benefit from taking a step back and giving their ideas a chance to mature – for instance, read Theresa Goodwin’s account of her experience on The Bold Think Blog here.
Granted, it doesn’t always take a massive holiday to make a difference to your outlook. Even leaving early some days, or working from home can give you a chance to relax and refresh your mind. For those who feel really panicky at the thought of being away from work for too long, nowadays it’s easy to stay in touch with the office even when you’re not physically there, and even something as simple as using your mobile to access the internet and check emails can make you feel less cut off.
The possibility of remote working and the recognition that employee time off benefits companies has even led some employers to bring in unlimited holiday time. As Fast Company reports here, this innovative approach takes away the stress of scheduling holiday time and trying to fit in certain amounts of time within a designated period.
To celebrate Leave the Office Early Day, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 tips to make sure you can leave the office on time, at least, if not early.
How do you feel about your work-life balance? Do you take enough time out to recharge?